Top 3 Retail Technologies Fashion Retailers Must Adopt In 2018
It is no secret that fashion companies that adopted early tech have enhanced their competitive advantage. Technology has refined their logistical processes that used to eat away resources but the most significant impact technological adoption has made is the ability to personalise products and shopping experiences.
“We are only scratching the surface right now with technologies like virtual reality or artificial intelligence but we are fast-approaching a point where the margin of error for consumer shopping for clothing will be almost nil,” – Doug Stephens, author of ‘Reengineering Retail; The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World.’
WTVox highlights Top 3 Retail Technologies and innovations that will help fashion brands boost their commerce and gain a massive competitive advantage.
Top 3 Retail Technologies – Augmented Reality
Augmented reality offers a real-time view of one’s immediate surroundings but augmented by computer-generated holograms.
Augmented reality (AR) is still treated as a novelty rather than a solution to real problems in fashion. When Burberry launched their AR, the device was designed to communicate with a feed of cameras and digitally redecorate their surroundings with ‘Burberry-inspired’ drawings, created by artist Danny Sangra, ignoring its potential as a sales tool that could increase the potential of sales assistants.
“Compared to virtual reality, AR does not require dedicated hardware as it is built to work with smartphones and tablets. AR functionality is embedded in over 300 million smartphones worldwide, targeting 1 billion devices by the end of 2018, as Google’s AR software comes online,” – Ari Bloom, chief executive of Avametric.
In cosmetics, L’Oréal is among the many cosmetics companies offering AR-focused apps that allows buyers experiment with combinations of beauty merchandises on their smartphones, eliminating the mess of testing physical products in stores. To date, over 20 million users have downloaded L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app, showcasing the potential AR has if well implemented.
Not only cosmetics but fashion brands also are exploring AR opportunities. Last year Gap unveiled a digital dressing room, developed by Avametric in collaboration with Google. The digital dressing room enables shoppers to try on garments without having to step into a store. This year (January 2018), Amazon patented an AR-enabled smart mirror that overlays clothes onto users, letting them play with any desired look.
Some of the advantages of trying garments in the AR environment is the lack of restriction on the number of garments the user can try on. It can suggest apparel based on disclosed user preferences or the most popular trends at the time. Finally, it reduces the number of returned items to a great extent, cutting down on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and associated waste.
Top 3 Retail Technologies – Blockchain
Part of the Top 3 Retail Technologies is a very popular technology known to most as the engine that’s powering cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash, Dash and Monero and called blockchain. Blockchain tech is, in fact, a digital, decentralised and distributed ledger that presents new possibilities for managing goods, greenwashing, authenticity, safety and even ethical standards. Once added to the blockchain no records can be altered. Statista predicts the global blockchain technology market to reach $2.3 billion by 2021 but many experts see a figure at least five times higher!
The most prominent use of blockchain technology in the fashion industry is to establish the authenticity of the goods. Smart chipsets connected to blockchain can let the buyer with total certainty whether an apparel is genuine or fake; its provenience, materials used, if it was stolen, country of origin and other general records. All pieces of information are accessible via smartphones and would prevent counterfeiting, theft, and greenwashing.
According to EU’s Intellectual Property Office, imports of counterfeit goods are worth half a trillion dollars a year. That is almost 2.5 percent of the total goods imported worldwide. Moreover, Blockchain allows fashion retailers earn trust and brand loyalty throughout a transparent product lifecycle, as blockchain lets customers see where the goods are manufactured, by whom, in what conditions and much they workers are getting paid.
Similar Read: Ten Future Technologies That Will Transform Our Future
World’s biggest diamond producer, De Beers, aims to launch their first blockchain sometime this year. The company wants to track their precious gems from the moment they are dug up from the ground up to each time buyers hands are changed. Just like the fashion garments, the blockchain technology will be used to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from ‘blood zones’. However, blockchain tech is still in its early stages of adoption and very few luxury brands understand it or even know about it.
“The biggest challenge for fashion brands would be finding experts able to work with the technology and implement it. That’s why, blockchain providers such as VeChain, Stratis, Neo, Etherum will win big in the long run.” – Javier Seara, MD of The Boston Consulting Group.
Top 3 Retail Technologies – Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is by far the biggest technological development of all times. AI has the ‘intelligence’ to utilize large data sets, relevant information, connect M2M, run entire blockchain operations, extract AR, IoT and wearables data to decipher consumer emotions and much more.
In fashion, AI already helps retailers with predictive forecasting and stock planning, indirectly delivering benefits such as product availability and faster deliveries to the customers. According to a McKinsey & Company paper from 2017, the AI-powered system reduces inventory and forecasting errors by up to 50 percent, improving overall speed, cost, and flexibility across the value chain.
According to the International Data Corporation, by 2020 the market for AI and machine-learning based technologies is estimated to reach $40 billion.
In addition to supply chain benefits, AI can also help with facial recognition, smoother e-commerce experiences and improve customer retention through personalisation. Online platforms like Amazon, Alibaba, JD.com and Zalando use AI to generate accurate results and display virtual storefronts customised to each customer based on unique shopping habits and preferences.
“Retailers leverage data to provide seamless personal experiences, increasing conversion, repeat purchase and loyalty in return.” – Karen McCormick, CIO at Beringea, a UK-based Venture Capital firm.
Walmart earlier applied for an AI patent that uses facial recognition to identify customer satisfaction. Similarly, JD.com is opening in 2018 a new line of unmanned stores, where the use of AI and facial recognition technology will be critical.
“Last year there were huge developments from retailers around the world suggesting that facial recognition technology is on the brink of mainstream adoption,” added McCormick.
Both AI and facial recognition will provide customers with convenience in exchange for consumers’ regarding their decision-making process and choices, with the aim of developing personalised experiences for them.
Facial recognition and AI logs everything and deliver instant digital profiles that contain the customer’s prior purchases, shipping locations, previous holidays or business travels, food preferences. Do you think that these three technologies are too intrusive? If yes, let us know in the comments section below.