If you asked the average person to name any of the industries most likely to be affected significantly by the march of technology, it’s unlikely that they’d name the fashion industry — but if they really thought about it, maybe they should.
After all, the fashion industry relies on extensive and complex engineering, has a complex sales funnel that covers both practical and stylistic concerns (often in equal measures), and — perhaps most importantly — is a huge money-spinner. Where there’s profit, there’s a high-level determination to increase that profit, and technology takes you down that road.
Indeed, the fashion industry is currently undergoing some major technological developments that are significantly improving the average customer experience and making life much easier for suppliers. In this piece, we’re going to focus on the latter, looking at 6 ways in which technology is working wonders for the fashion industry. Let’s begin.
It’s reducing wasted stock and material
From the perspective of a seller, it’s tricky to get stock levels right, and the same goes for manufacturers regarding materials. You need enough to meet demand but not so much that you’re struggling to find enough storage space for all it.
And while manufacturers can at least find year-round use for most materials, sellers who don’t offload their Christmas stock by the new year will be left facing a tricky choice: discount it massively to get it sold, or hold onto it for 11 months in the hope that it will sell next year.
Fortunately, AI systems are perfect for handling stock forecasting
(drawing from countless data sources to accurately predict how much stock will be needed at particular times or throughout particular periods) — configured correctly, they’ll minimize your risk and maximize your profit.
It’s enabling informed purchasing from (almost) anywhere
The more places in which you can sell, the better. It’s very simple. And I’m not talking about different stores that might damage perceived exclusivity: I’m talking about extending your brand to multiple channels and supporting varied purchasing options.
If you want to, you can even sell your wares through chatbots. Facebook Messenger supports e-commerce bots that can be customized to suggest products, answer common queries, and allow one-click buying through mobile payment gateways such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.
If you can establish a strong brand, you can use the power of technology to make your products available to customers no matter where they are, making you more likely to benefit from late-night purchasing impulses and general spur-of-the-moment buying.
It’s providing new pattern and material options
For many fashion brands, standing out from the pack is a core part of the value proposition. There are only so many colors and patterns available, so anything that expands your production options is likely to prove highly valuable.
Look at how companies such as Modern Meadow
are using advanced technology to create entirely new materials. Bioengineering is particularly important given the myriad ethical and environmental issues involved with materials such as leather — in time, these advanced materials should prove cheaper, stronger, and easier to use.
And the more of them that hit the market, the more options a fashion manufacturer will have for its latest range. It’s an advance that’s going to work out to everyone’s benefit.
It’s allowing more in-depth personalization
The types of virtual previewing tool that we’ve already looked at don’t just function in isolated cases — that would be a waste. Instead, wherever possible, they feed into complex user personalization systems, providing superior UX and making it possible for sellers to better establish customer loyalty.
Imagine using a service such as Ditto
to preview a pair of glasses, then deciding against making a purchase and leaving the site. Since the service requires a user login, the preview information (the face scan) can be stored and folded into further marketing materials (for instance, if the seller starts stocking new frames similar to those the user previewed, it can send them an email previewing those new frames and encouraging the recipient to keep looking).
Because part of the appeal of a high-end retail experience is having a unique customer experience, anything that technology can do to make that possible is hugely valuable.
It’s supporting sales teams with virtual previews
Hiring and funding a broad and experienced sales team is expensive, but in the past it has been entirely necessary. Prospective customers who can’t get some much-needed advice and feedback from people who know what they’re doing are unlikely to want to stick around.
Virtual previews, primarily provided through augmented reality (AR) tech
, make it possible to scale back on human support teams without affecting the customer’s experience (and thus without damaging their likelihood to buy). The more sales requests technology can handle, the more time salespeople can spend on higher-end customers with more niche requirements.
Think about the prevalence of Snapchat filters, as well as previewing services such as Ditto (used to shop for glasses, as pictured in the featured image) or IKEA Place (which allows you to virtually place a scale-accurate 3D model of a furniture item in your home).
If you’re a seller and you want to implement AR content
, make sure your store can handle it, because not every CMS is a good fit — consider expanding your site with a secondary storefront. Save time by repurposing a pre-built site: check a marketplace like Exchange
, find something cheap that suits your style, then brand it accordingly and connect it to your inventory.
It’s bolstering credibility through blockchain
Blockchain is the business buzzword of the moment, but it isn’t all hype. In certain areas, it excels, and the fashion industry is one of them. Think about the extent to which top brands suffer from the prevalence of counterfeit goods. They have to work hard to shut down sellers copying their work, but it’s all but impossible to get them all.
Using blockchain technology, any given garment can be tagged and have its full history traced
, going from its point of origin to the present day. Sooner or later, every item produced by a top brand will be tagged in this way, ensuring that any prospective buyer can tell whether it’s genuine before they commit to buying.
Given the importance of scarcity in the fashion world (regardless of whether it’s artificial scarcity), a blockchain system for proving items to be genuine is going to prove very popular.
There you have it: 6 ways in which technology is changing the fashion industry. Over time, it’s going to make life so much easier for fashion suppliers: saving them money, expanding their options, and allowing them to sell in more advanced ways.