Technology that has made the most interesting impact on the fashion ndustry
It goes without saying that changes in technology and digitalization have had a huge impact on fashion retail and the fashion industry. But how are these changes being felt? We asked these fashion retail influencers for their opinion on which innovative technologies made the biggest impact and why.
What technology has made the most interesting impact on the fashion industry, in the past 5 years?
Artificial intelligence (AI) enables highly successful fashion retailers like Stitch Fix, Adore Me and Rent the Runway to develop algorithms based on rich shopper profiles. Shoppers fill out detailed questionnaires about likes, dislikes, favorites, styles and more. Algorithms use the data to personalize shipments and learn from mistakes over time.
I think 3D printing has had an interesting impact on the fashion industry. It has allowed fashion designers to expand beyond traditional design boundaries and freeing them from being limited by pre-built molds, and it furthers the ability for brands to deliver personalization options to their customers.
Founder of RETAIL SPEAK, Author of the 2015 IBPA Award winning RETAIL SCHMETAIL
Augmented Reality & Fitting Rooms: Certainly with the introduction of AR-Smart Mirrors, there have been advances in personalization and editing a brand’s offering while allowing a customer to model an outfit in virtual terms. This dovetails with the store’s increased ability to develop customer profiles, which helps enhance brand loyalty.
Social Media Influencers & Styling Apps: The less obvious answer, but one that has arguably moved the ‘technology in fashion’ needle the most, is the convergence of smartphone technology, social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest and styling apps like Stylebook, The Hunt, and PS Dept. Add to that the emerging stars of the fashion blogosphere and you have the makings of the “New Arbiters of Style”, empowered by technology.
There have been big technological breakthroughs in fashion in the last five years and a lot of busts. Every week there’s another article on a new technology will revolutionize how we shop, but it never seems to come to fruition. At least not in middle-America where I live. Between ideas offered on social medias and apps like Pinterest, women shoppers in our focus groups say their smartphone is their best shopping companion.
You think of something you want, visit the retailers’ website or app, click around, and make a purchase. Your credit card and important information is already stored so it’s easy, and when the package arrives a couple of days later, you’re thrilled. We also appreciate online help when we need it from knowledgeable associates who can talk via chat about quality and fit, and who suggest items to complete the look.
There may be bigger technologies out there but shopping via smartphone is the one we all talk about.
It’s no one standalone technology but the elegant blend of multiple technologies which is having the biggest impact on the fashion industry. For example, the work which Milan based luxury boutique Larusmiani is doing with Accenture which combines facial recognition with augmented reality, digital mirrors, virtual reality and digital payments thus creating a bespoke, luxury customer experience.
Interactive video has made one of the biggest unseen impacts on retailers by creating active learners who are more engaged. Those associates can be certified on the training which allows trainers to concentrate on making sure the learners can do what they learned on the sales floor which increases conversions.
Just like there are classic styles in fashion that never go out of style, this is how I feel about point of sale for retailers. Its functions have evolved and modernized to meet the demands of today’s merchants and customers alike, but it’s still critical to have as part of your fashion management strategy. One of my favorite resources beyond point of sale, however, is Salesflloor.net which allows in-store associates to connect with their customers out of the store. This dynamic app is the missing link retailers have needed to optimize their in-store sales, customer service and overall brand visibility.
Sustainability has to be one of the biggest trends to hit the fashion industry in recent years. The younger digital-savvy generation are more concerned with the impact their buying habits are having on the environment – from the state of our oceans and climate change, to poor factory conditions and cheap labour.
“Fast-fashion” is becoming increasingly unfashionable as consumers realise the negative implications of buying yet another new outfit for the weekend to wear only a handful of times. It’s been interested watching the industry rise to the challenge and use technology to address this social issue, from the high-street giant H&M to smaller boutique brands like MUD Jeans. Not to forget the start-ups and businesses which are built around sustainable trends – Rent The Runway, where you can get a regular fashion fix or Orange Fiber which manufactures fabrics from orange peel. But it’s still early days and many complications on the journey to creating truly sustainable fashion.
In my opinion, the technology that has had the most impact on the fashion industry over the past 5 years has been social media. The ability for consumers to see, share and converse about emerging trends as they’re taking shape has fundamentally changed the entire nature of fashion collections and releases, and reduced the control brands have in dictating trends to consumers. Social media has moved power in fashion closer to the consumer.
There’s a lot of great gee whiz technology out there but I give the win to artificial intelligence. AI offers the best combination of brass-tacks capabilities that improve profitability, like inventory and workforce management, with shopper-friendly features like image recognition. AI also has the most promise when it comes to bridging to mobile and across multiple platforms.
This retail fashion expert round-up interview was conducted by Manthan.
Manthan is a leading cloud analytics company, pioneering analytical applications for consumer-facing businesses. Manthan’s products are powered by AI, cloud and prescriptive capabilities and are unique in their ability to use machine intelligence to process decision contexts and respond automatically with actions and recommendations to manage every aspect of a consumer business.