Behind smoke and mirrors, noticeable or not, there are constant changes, and there have been developments in the fashion industry for more than a decade now. The fashion retail sector to be more precise, as there is a clear distinction between fashion tech and retail tech.
Simply put, just to avoid the confusion, fashion technology deals with new materials and solutions that support technological infusion into the fabrics and garments of tomorrow; wearable tech, nanotechnology, anything that can make the materials lighter, stronger, easier to clean, sustainable and intelligent.
The retail tech, on the other hand, focuses on how fashion brands can employ innovative technology to augment their retail, such as artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality.
Over the past decade, technology has made it increasingly easier for fashion companies to get online, expanded their reach, giving them the unique opportunity of competing on much larger, or even global scales with the help of cloud technology, e-commerce and social media.
However, it is not just the e-commerce technology that disrupts the retail tech sector in fashion. The broad availability of portable POS systems, smartphones, one-touch payment options e.g. Amazon and Paypal helped also.
Retail Tech – A massive shift in consumer shopping habits
The evolution of social media and even the free shipping strategy shaped the traditional retail landscape into the powerful retail system of modern times. Most importantly, the Internet and the access to free information has driven a massive shift in consumer shopping habits, sweeping trends and forcing all retailers, not just the ones in fashion, to adjust, adapt or slowly become irrelevant, like your grandpa’s newspaper agent at the corner of the street.
The retail’s first upgrade started with the transition from local stores to the online world, maturing the overall retail concept into a technology based business. The second rise is in the adoption and implementation of artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, leveraging innovation and creating market differentiation.
It is worth noticing that the solution providers in retail hold equal importance as the fashion retailers themselves. Sometimes, arising, innovative retail solutions become more valuable than the brands and companies adopting the solution but that is a different story we’ll check it out next time.
To help you understand where I am going, I shall bring to your attention three billionaires that have made their fortune in retail tech, with Forbes Magazine ranking them as “The Richest People in Tech” last year. In no particular order:
- Pierre Omidyar or the genius behind the online auction giant eBay has divested himself from both PayPal and eBay but still owns around 7% of eBay. Pierre’s net worth is close to $8 billion.
- The founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is the third richest person in the world and the second richest person in technology. Amazon’s rise to dominance in the online shopping market is nothing short of spectacular. Amazon’s Web Services have sent the company’s stock to new heights, clocking Jeff’s net worth at $66.5 billion.
- Jack Ma. A self-made Chinese billionaire that transformed “just another” e-commerce portal (I am talking about Alibaba here) into the “Amazon of China.” An e-commerce giant that continues to grow and expand after more recently launching an online portal in partnership with the U.S. retailing icon Macy’s. Jack’s net worth is close to $26 billion.
Undoubtedly the governing forces behind the online retail, are very tech savvy, and all three billionaires are showing increasing interest in brick-mortar retail and fashion.
I foresee easier store pickups, drone deliveries, RFID tags and smart labels, IoT and beacons, magic mirrors and smart fitting rooms, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence. New, innovative technologies, slowly becoming a commonality in fashion retail, just like the process of ordering from your smartphone, almost inconceivable ten years ago.
Back to the original question, “Retail Tech In Fashion – Innovate Or Not?” Relax, the future of fashion retail is in good hands.