“Wait and try” luxe delivery service Toshi wins LVMH Innovation Prize

LVMH has been seeking ways to elevate the online purchasing experience. Now, it has awarded the 2022 LVMH Innovation Award to London-based start-up Toshi, which offers a “wait and try” delivery service for online luxury consumers.

Photo: Marie Rouge

Founded in 2017, Toshi brings in-store services to the customer at a time and location that suits them, using public transportation as well as electric vehicles. Through its “wait and try” service, the Toshi delivery person waits while the client is doing fittings. “It’s delivery but with retail services. We are really the opposite of Amazon,” Sojin Lee, founder and CEO of Toshi — who helped to launch Net-a-Porter — tells Vogue Business.

Toshi already works with LVMH houses, including Christian Dior Couture, Celine, Tiffany & Co., Berluti and Rimowa, and just started with Louis Vuitton. It operates in London and New York and plans to launch in Los Angeles early next year, followed by Paris, Milan and Chicago, according to Lee. It won in the “operations and manufacturing excellence” category, as well as scooping the overall prize. More than 950 startups applied for the award, and 21 finalists were selected.

“E-commerce is at the heart of our business, in the context of elevation of online purchasing experience, like we have been doing for decades in physical retail,” says Antonio Belloni, LVMH group managing director. LVMH’s online penetration is “in the mid-teens”, according to the executive.

In the other categories, winning start-ups were MarqVision (data and artificial intelligence special mention), Bitski (3D, virtual experience and metaverse), SeenThis (media and brand awareness), Gamino (employee experience and CSR), The Showcase (omnichannel and retail), and WeTurn (sustainability).

San Francisco-based start-up Bitski “allows companies to more easily and more efficiently navigate the whole NFT development and selling process”, LVMH group chief omnichannel officer Michael David says. “[Buying NFTs] is still for technophiles at this point,” he adds, describing the start-up as the “Shopify of NFTs, very streamlined, one step at a time”. David also praised French startup Gamino, which offers employees digital training to raise awareness of disabilities via simulations.

Paris-based startup WeTurn transforms fabrics that haven’t been used into new yarns or fabrics with the yarns. “Once woven, they are re-introduced to our house,” LVMH environmental development director Hélène Valade says, adding that the startup already works with three LVMH houses.

Presenting the awards during the Vivatech conference in Paris on Thursday morning, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault said he is warming up to the metaverse. “I remember using the first Apple, the Lisa. I think today with NFTs and metaverse, we are at this stage, we have enormous progress to make,” he said on stage. “My kids are very familiar with NFTs, but it’s complicated – when you want to buy one, you have to go to Opensea. We have a lot of progress to make. This being said, we are doing a lot.” Tag Heuer unveiled on Wednesday a new functionality on its smartwatches allowing collectors to display NFTs on their wrists: “It’s fun,” Arnault said. Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Guerlain, Kenzo, Bulgari and Hennessy have all launched NFTs.

Arnault said he is “optimistic” about the luxury market, despite headwinds in the key markets of China, where persistent lockdowns continue, and the US, with rampant inflation bringing challenges. “The global economy is at a turning point. Will inflation continue so strongly? He said, “I am optimistic, so my answer is yes. The central banks, which are very well managed both in the US and in Europe, will be able to slow down the inflation without triggering a global recession. On top of that, the first semester is on a very good track.”

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