Havaianas used AI to create a shoppable virtual storefront in Los Angeles

To kick off summer and drive sales in the U.S., footwear brand Havaianas created a pop-up e-commerce store without bringing any product along.

The brand enlisted street artist Buff Monster to create a colorful mural for the brand on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, at Ocean Front Walk in Venice, California, that was more than just paint on a sidewalk — the pop-up was open for just one day, June 28. Romana said the location was strategic to catch Gen Z shoppers walking along the boardwalk, phones in hand, looking for something Instagram-worthy to capture.

“We didn’t want ‘bling tech,’ or tech for the sake of it. We wanted something that made sense for the path we designed: Spot the art, get curious, enter the art, get interested, discover a style, discover how to style it and finally shop,” said Fefa Romana, chief digital officer at Alpargatas S.A., the parent company of Havaianas.

Buff Monster was also a perfect choice for a younger audience, she said, especially considering some of his previous brand collaborations. In the past, the artist has worked with companies including Coca-Cola, Aldo, G Shock and more.

“Collaboration offers an opportunity to work in a new way or to work on a project that you wouldn’t have done on your own,” said Buff Monster in a prior interview. “I think people like to see what happens when two individual entities that they know come together to create something new.”

Shoppers simply had to open their web browser to StepIntoSummer.com, step onto the mural and snap a few photos of different parts of the mural. When a shopper captured certain colors or patterns in their photo, technology powered by Google’s Cloud Vision AI platform detected those pre-selected colors and styles from Havaianas merchandising assortment. Once the images registered on the website and with the Google technology, shoppers were then presented with curated style guides and style tips from celebrity stylist Tara Swennon. The shopper could then make a purchase directly from the Havaianas e-commerce site.

The brand declined to share how many people engaged with the activation or how many sales came out of it, but plans on moving forward with more out of home activations that incorporate tech as it expands its international presence. Currently, the brand focuses on five markets: Brazil, Latin America, North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. 

In the fourth quarter of 2018, parent company Alpargatas reported an 8.7% increase in net revenue, year over year, driven by Havaianas Brazil and a 29% increase in international operations. For 2018, Havaianas reported $3.9 billion in net revenue, up 4.9% from 2017, the company said.

The use of technology is something the brand has been looking to incorporate more of; some of that comes in stores, Romana said, whether that’s tracking foot traffic in stores to understand how the shopper moves through one of Havaianas’ global stores or adding new technology to make the payment process faster and simpler.

People love an experiment with interfaces and, once they discovered the tech, they really engaged with it and tried to discover everything about the art. To us, that means we can push the tech further and offer more content and engage in a larger conversation,” said Romana. 

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