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iHeart Studios iHeart Studios

Future Smart Retailing

Posted by I Heart team

On October 9-10th, I Heart Studios attended the World Fashion Convention in Maastricht with 300 industry leaders from more than 20 countries around the globe.

The theme of the convention was building a smarter future for fashion, and I Heart took part in the Future of Retail panel covering trends in online retail, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

Technology is having a large impact in changing the fashion landscape, and a brand or a manufacturer can perform better if it can anticipate what will happen in retail

Jorij Abraham from the Global Ecommerce Foundation; Jeff Streader, former SVP and COO of VF, Billabong and Guess Jeans; and Matthew Drinkwater from London College of Fashion were on the panel to share their insights.

Here are some of the key outtakes:

The impact of online retail
on the apparel business (Jorij Abraham)

Consumers are changing their shopping behaviour. The rise in online shopping has caused traffic in shopping malls to drop (50% in the last few years in the US alone). Brands and retailers must consider a multi-channel sales approach to adapt with the changes and build a more engaging “Love Brand” based entirely on consumer data.

We have seen major stores (like Decathlon) open smaller stores supporting all omnichannel flows. The consumer can order online, pick up instore, or order in store and get home delivery, and still offer in-store experience and workshops. Panera Bread is another example of a brand investing in their instore mobile experience and seen great results with their new in-store ordering app, they now have seen a 30% digital sales increase and up to 45% customer frequency increased.

Visual is the new TV inspiring people to shop. Consumers want to discover new products online while still enjoying an instore experience. Companies must focus on building a stronger love brand using customer data to understand their consumer and create fun, relevant, engaging, social, and helpful experiences across all channels online and in person.

Investments in technology improve
results in retail (Jeff Streader)

The retail supply chain continues to become more interconnected. Investments in new technologies for retailers are needed to improve results in both retail and manufacturing.

Recently the focus on investments has been in Artificial Intelligence (AI) which can be used by retailers to bring their offerings closer to their customer’s demand. Knowing your customer is now more important than ever.

Stitch Fix is an example of a brand who successfully uses AI to grow their brand. The online subscription and personal shopping service sends personalised boxes of clothing to their customers based on an initial questionnaire, then continues to use data based on customer preferences to customise and provide a targeted and personalised service.

Improving customer experience becomes even more important when you consider that future brick and mortar stores may no longer employ sales assistants, so AI will become more important than ever.

High tech retail (Matthew Drinkwater)

Technology is being used to entice and seduce customers in retail. Augmented Reality (AR) can be used to enhance the online shopping experience.

Augmented reality technology superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a combined view.

Many retailers are adopting AR technologies to bring the physical experience of trying on clothes so that brands can interact with their customers either at home, online or in stores or events. Facial mapping technology, body scanning technology for customers to “try before they buy” In a virtual changing rooms or experiment with applying different shades of makeup colours before purchasing - Warby Parker for example uses an AR app to virtually fit their glasses on to consumers faces so they can decide which style suits best without having to go instore to try on.

Fashion is one of the industries where some of the most rapid innovations in this technology sector are being put into action.

In summary

We cannot understand the future of the fashion industry if we don’t understand where the retail business is heading. All the money that goes into the system eventually has to enter through retail, coming from the wallets of the consumers.

A brand or a manufacturer can perform better if it can anticipate what will happen in retail, and as retailers, emotion is absolutely crucial to the experience we’re offering.

The interaction between consumers and the entire fashion chain must be quicker and more efficient. We need new investments in new technologies to achieve this.

Rahul Mehta, President CMAI, summed this up perfectly, “Change is inevitable, necessary, and good. The old adage is giving to a brand new one, which says – disruptive change is inevitable, disruptive change is necessary, and disruptive change is good!”