The Fashion & Apparel industry is home to some of the most creative applications of technology in business. As technology advances, businesses are under immense pressure to produce results fast and keep their share in the market. Here are 5 ways technology is changing the face of Fashion & Apparel.
Virtual Changing Rooms
As more and more consumers move to shopping online, Euromonitor’s 2014 study highlights the importance of the virtual changing room. With only a 2% conversion rate on apparel, the customer experience during the decision to buy is vital. ASOS and Boohoo.com have been answering this with their free returns policy but the cost of returns for the retailer has shifted focus to trying before you buy. Tools such as Virtusize and Fits Me attempt to solve the issue with size recommendation engines, taking a user’s inputted measurements to simulate a personalised fitting experience.
Cosmetics company Charlotte Tilbury takes an alternative approach – the virtual mirror. This concept allows customers to try on makeup in-store before they buy. The instantaneous nature of this method makes me think it won’t be long before the apparel industry replicates it, with no need to change in and out of clothes and an inventory of previously purchased items for outfit recommendations.
Amazon Go’s cashierless grocery stores use RFID tags to track products. Consumers can fill up their shopping bags with their chosen products and walk out – Amazon knows exactly what they’ve picked up and will charge accounts accordingly. This not only removes the need for cashiers but also allows retailers to track customer movements around the store, analysing the order in which they shop, the products they’re not interested in and those they ponder over. This could easily be replicated in Fashion, meaning customers could try items on in the changing room and walk out of the shop in a brand new outfit, charged directly to their account.
The Digital Showroom was a concept pioneered by Tommy Hilfiger back in 2015, swapping out physical samples and paper order forms for an interactive touchscreen table and projector. Buyers in the Amsterdam showroom can now use the technology to explore key looks, item details, textures, prices, colours and sizes. Orders can then be placed instantly and an order confirmation is sent via email. This makes the whole process more effective for both supplier and buyer.
Last year, Burberry disrupted the industry when they debuted their see-now-buy-now Autumn/Winter show at London Fashion Week. Rather than the traditional 6 month wait time from catwalk to store, Burberry’s entire collection was available to shop online as it was premiered. This model has now been emulated by the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. Not only does this model require a robust ecommerce solution, it also relies on Critical Path (CPM) functionality to ensure a full inventory is made available before show day.
High-street shops are turning over their stock every six weeks instead of following the traditional four seasons in an attempt to feed customers’ ever-escalating taste for consumerism. High-end fashion houses are no longer confined to two seasons per year but are releasing pre-season, cruise and capsule collections across the annual calendar. Originally an idea to distribute the workload of designers more evenly, these extra collections have only made things more hectic. Without a business system streamlining the workflow from design to samples to testing to delivery, it would be impossible to keep up with such rapid change.
These innovations all require a conscious control of inventory, procurement and distribution that a series of sporadic spreadsheets can’t handle. Sitting behind the glamour of Digital Transformation is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, telling businesses exactly where their stock is, how much they have and when it will become available. You can discover more about ERP and how it can prepare your business for a digital future by registering for our upcoming webinar “Future-proof Your Business: Fashion & Apparel”.