We’re days away from the New York fashion industry’s biggest tech event. In the city that never sleeps, Fashion Digital is hosting over 600 innovative fashion and e-commerce leaders to discuss digital solutions for industry challenges and opportunities.
This year’s speakers, hailing from game-changing companies like NET-A-PORTER, Gilt and Steven Alan, are considering how digital implementation can advance operations and strategies. From customization to transparency, here’s how the fashion industry is opening its doors to the right tech solutions.
Accessibility and Discovery
“Process and efficiency have rarely been hallmarks of our industry,” says Keith George, Chief Merchandising Officer of Gilt. “Technology delivers this efficiency in our ‘want-it-now’ culture and enables full visibility across the globe.” As one of the first digital platforms to initiate members-only shopping, Gilt hosts timed flash sales, seamlessly integrating the need for efficient e-commerce. “Consumers can see the latest styles and trends and buy with a click of a button,” says George.
Gilt focuses on members-only shopping through timed flash sales.
Ease of access to merchandise is just one way in which technology is shaping how consumers are engaging with the industry. Another significant benefit is, of course, the ease of discovery. “This is not only empowering for the consumer, but also for the brands,” George explains.
The adoption of digital solutions allows for additional avenues of discovery for brands, especially ones that are new, alternative or up-and-coming. ”Technology ensures that people will beat a path to your digital door.”
Customization and Optimization
Making digital solutions a priority comes with its own set of challenges, though — especially in terms of data collection. Marilyn Webber, Director of Marketing at NET-A-PORTER, says, “The main challenge is keeping up with changes in consumer shopping habits.”
With shopping habits ever-changing, so too do consumer expectations. Where the consumer was once responsible for seeking out relevant merchandise, now brands with technology solutions are stepping in to offer personalized shopping experiences. Customization has led to guided product discovery.
“These solutions will enable them to shop anywhere, anytime, within a personalized environment,” she says. “Technology is the new personal shopper — it tracks your habits, how you shop, your size preferences, and the brands you love.”
NET-A-PORTER publishes an online fashion magazine, The EDIT.
Yet, collecting consumer data is just one aspect of customization. Analyzing data and implementing findings is a necessary — and often challenging — next step. That’s where companies like Omer Artun’s AgilOne come in. As CEO, Artun founded AgilOne to serve as a prescriptive marketing analytics platform. The platform provides customer profiles for advanced segmentation and personalization opportunities across channels.
Artun explains: “The problem is that many fashion companies are unable to organize data across channels (in-store and online), and therefore lack an accurate picture of their clientele.” Analytics tools, like those that AgilOne offers, can take the data collected from digitally-monitored consumer interactions, and translate it into actionable opportunities for increased engagement.
AgilOne uses predictive marketing to restore company-consumer relationships.
Understanding who the customer really is can help brands better meet their needs. Rohan Deuskar, CEO and co-founder of Stylitics, agrees, ”Most fashion brands and retailers have very little visibility into how their products are actually being worn and where else their customer is shopping. That makes it difficult to act on new trends or new competition quickly.”
Stylitics is a virtual closet and fashion insights platform, which uses the largest panel of millenial shoppers in the world to provide brands and retailers with key data on their target demographics. Deuskar explains, “Connected technology solutions like universal shopping carts and closet/outfit tracking platforms like Stylitics can offer the fashion industry a better view into their customer’s entire shopping bag.”
By turning their focus to consumer data, brands are enabling stronger relationships with their customers and accelerating their response to new trends in the market. Artun says, “Retail companies now have the ability to gather all of their in-store and online customer data, own it, interpret it and use it to make their brands more tailored to each unique customer.”
Customization applies to the full user experience, beyond simply surfacing the most relevant brands or products for the customer. From providing a seamless checkout to offering fit confidence, technology solutions can address an incredibly wide range of the customer’s needs.
Steven Alan, founder of the eponymous boutique chain and design collection, makes full use of the user experience advantages that only digital solutions can offer. “This 360 degree view comes from areas such as fit, cross channel selling, simple checkout, [and] photography,” he says. “The motivation comes from the fact that within the fashion sector things are moving rapidly and the results can be seen immediately.”
Steven Alan’s collection is now sold in over 300 stores worldwide.
Effective results lead to one, incredibly valuable asset for brands and retailers: customer confidence.
“Fashion is a form of self-expression. And consumers want the confidence to discover,” says William Adler, CEO of True Fit. “The right technology, partnered with amazing retailing, helps consumers explore confidently.” By providing customers with fit recommendations, True Fit is built on a challenge that all e-commerce platforms face. Leveraging its billions of data points, the company can show customers how well the products they see onscreen will fit them in real-life.
“The online apparel and footwear market is booming, but relative to other categories sales are very under penetrated and the percentage of returns is very high,” he says. ”Consumers lack confidence during the online shopping journey.”
Ultimately, the service is just as beneficial for the brand as it is for the buyer, as confidence in fit can lead to sales conversions. Adler explains, “Leveraging insightful data to build consumer confidence is the key to making that connection, and unlocking this market.”
True Fit has a database of the world’s top apparel, footwear and consumer fit data.
The natural extension of increased dependence on technology solutions implies further adoption and analysis of data. “The fashion industry is now beginning to see the value and necessity of customer analytics,” says Artun. “By learning more about their customers and potential buyers, fashion companies can react quickly to new trends and better target consumers that are ready to buy.”
This industry is faced with more than just the difficulty of scaling the analytics process so that the consumer experience becomes consistently smarter; it also has the challenge of keeping up with the clipping pace of digital innovation.
Webber emphasizes the need for brands and retailers to prioritize: “As these consumer habits evolve, fashion companies need to catch up.” The need lies within the immense, still-untapped potential of the e-commerce space. “E-commerce share of wallet is growing at a faster pace than total luxury sales.” She adds that the fashion industry has come a long way in the past half-decade, but that it still “needs to adapt quickly to meet this upward incline of demand and opportunity.”
However, for some growing companies, the opportunity is bigger than customization and technological adoption. Instead, it’s about creating social change.
Zady.com is a lifestyle destination for conscious consumers.
Soraya Darabi co-founded ethical e-commerce platform Zady in 2012 to help bring about sustainable economic development. The Zady team is able to harness a cultural product of the digital age: the customer’s expectation of access to information on the brands they’re shopping. She explains, “brands that believe in two-way dialogue will end up benefiting.”
The Zady experience is built off of transparency, calling for an end to fast fashion by exposing the reality of that sector. ”Disposable fashion ends up on landfills…that fashion is created using pretty toxic chemicals,” she says. “The truth of the matter is that we cant do this forever. Our ecosystem at large is paying the price for it.”
For socially-conscious brands like Zady, the power of technology lies in giving customers a choice, or, “enabling people to say ‘there is an alternative.’” With access to information on both production conditions and material usage, Darabi believes that customers will feel empowered.
“What we want the internet to do [and] what we want social media to do is galvanize,” says Darabi. “People are voting with their dollars and choosing brands that stand for something.”
Fashion Digital NY will bring together over 600 leaders in the fashion industry on October 20-21. The conference seeks to build high-end thought leadership around e-commerce strategies and technology solutions for the fashion retail industry.
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