Technology - Redefining the Landscape of Apparel Industry
Technology - Redefining the Landscape of Apparel Industry
Let me share a glimpse of what I learned from one of my client, DuaVivo (Luxury destination for pre-owned apparels). The concept of pre-owned luxury apparels is quite a nuance to the Indian market. First and foremost, to create a commercial model for the apparel industry you need to understand the market expectations, and then frame strategies to meet the customer demands. The rapidly accelerating technology innovations are redefining the key economic drivers of the retail industry. Forcing the retail sector to change at an agile pace.
Before we leap into the details, let's take a dip check on the fashion industry.
It’s time you dreamt of owning a companion that knows your taste and preferences better than anyone else. Yes, your own personalized bot. The technological outburst makes it vividly clear that we are mere steps away from creating the most comprehensive system ever existed.
A subtle reference will be a humanoid. One step closer to the singularity.
Smart devices have already gained momentum in the market. People find it more convenient to hop into the virtual world, try an outfit, and place the order. Why the fuss when you could enjoy the comfort of your home and place a customised order. Neatly designed and trimmed to fit your personality.
Fashion trends are the most volatile of any industry. Creativity, craftsmanship, and precision are tested to the extremes. Quality presentation that suits the target demography become the mantra to lure the masses. Almost all apparel stores started to prioritise a customer oriented strategy. One in which customer data is subjected to scrutiny poked and probed to gain significant knowledge about the future. To realize the customers preference way before they even grasp it One step ahead of all, innovating and reinventing styles for a generation that never settles with a near to perfect couture.
Need to Understand the Essentials of a Changing Market
Is it just the changing customer preferences that cause a dynamic revolution in the apparel industry. Not so. What about the social causes and concerns. If fashion is to augment your personality then what about the environmental causes related to it. Personality is never a mere reflection of what you wear. It’s time you realise the stakes involved. Just imagine the pollutants expelled into the atmosphere, toxic dyes, pesticides for cotton farming, disposal of non biodegradable fabrics, so on goes the list. The carbon footprint of the fashion industry is tremendous. Certainly, it questions our moral values and forces us to review our actions. Making us realise the importance of prioritising eco-friendly clothing and to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Climate change is one major cause that the whole world is concerned about. It is not so far that the new wave of genesis hits the apparel industry.
Stats published on WorldWildLife.org shows us an alarming figure, it takes 2,700 litres of water to grow the cotton required to manufacture a single T-Shirt. Maybe it's time we shift our concern from filling our wardrobes to a third world country where infants die because our gruelling desire for fashion apparels entices the manufacture to exploit nature. Brands need to be a bit cautious about what they offer, the reality is that there is a generation that still cares for the social causes.
Nanotechnology in the Field of Textile Manufacturing
Nanotechnology is slowly introduced into the textile industry, opening whole new implications and opportunities in the apparel market. Hypoallergenic materials are manufactured to fight pathogens (will have a great impact on the healthcare and hospitality sector). Advancements are also made in the field of designing clothes with personal climate control systems. Efficient waterproof nano fabrics and nano addictive fabrics are also gaining significance.
The Online Retail Industry
It’s imperative that an apparel store establish and maintain a strong digital presence. For a startup entity, the digital channels are the best source to reach out to a diverse customer base. If you are not set to accommodate change and to build an additional touch point for customer’s, then it will be a difficult scenario for your startup to thrive. With increasing online penetration it's important that you have a virtual presence.
The retail industry is slowly expanding in the virtual world. People are ready to pay a premium for convenience. That's the only reason why you are ready to pay an extra sum for the food you place online (delivery charge). Every entrepreneur needs to rethink their strategy, to what extent can I grow with a traditional retail model.
Let’s think about it from a customer’s perspective. The virtual stores enable fellow shopaholics to visit a store with a simple tap. They could navigate through multiple stores and hunt for specific products at their comfort. Be it while commuting, or laying back on their favourite couch. That’s what your customers are looking for “convenience”. Your virtual store gives an opportunity for luxury buyers to interact and engage with your establishment. The more people get familiarised with your identity the easier it gets to build a relationship with the customer.
Electronic commerce has revolutionized the retail space. Numerous pre-build platform providers like Shopify, Shopnix, Volusion, Weebly made it much easier for luxury stores to adopt the change. One small signup and they own a digital store. E-commerce stores have become so cheap that there are diverse business models that are built around this concept.
AI - A Companion to Select the Right Fit
Technology can influence fashion. Wondering how?
Check this app, Pureple. The app will help organize your wardrobe and make suggestions that will help you select the right outfit. What an amazing invention. Isn’t it? An app like pureple will give a second chance to the long-ignored apparels which are stuffed and let ignored at the corner of your closet. With this technology, you will get an opportunity to use the best out of what you have. A genuine solution on how to use your wardrobe to its best. Organize, plan, and execute the best style for you. As I mentioned before the future may be dominated by cognitive systems and humanoids that recommend you what to wear.
Online retail business could leverage a competitive advantage of this opportunity. Consider integrating an artificial intelligence system that could understand the customer's concern and respond to it prudently. Maybe a chat-bot with a propensity towards fashion. The system will take inputs from the user, or better will analyse the user's social profile and will make recommendations based on it. An example will be, the AI will analyze the person's body type and will advocate apparels that best suits the anatomy.
There are a lot more examples where leading tech industries are partnering with legendary clothing companies to promote smart clothing. Dressing has way surpassed fashion. There is more to it. Maybe in future, you only need a single dress that learns to adjust and fit any occasion.
Virtual Stores will Become the Favourite Spot for Shopaholics
Why not experience before you place an order. Exactly, that's what augmented reality can offer you. Consider holding a premium handbag or a bridal gown and visualizing how it suits you. Great isn’t it. Hopefully, technology will be able to bring that comfort to your home. Your digital store will be a trial room. People could hop in and try out whatever they like. Don’t forget the virtual assistant, who just stands by your side and give your genuine response on how individual products match your complexion. In the future, apparel brands will be making use of technology to provide a transparent immersive experience.
Data to Offer a Personalised Experience
Digital technologies help you collect and manage your customer data in a well structured manner. Every time when your customer interacts with your digital store he/ she will leave traces and bits of information behind. As a luxury store owner it's important that you make use of the information to offer a personalized experience to the customer. The impulsive drive seems to be a bit higher in the apparel/ fashion industry. A luxury apparel store can retarget their prospects using dynamic ads and entice them to revisit your store. A great opportunity to remarket to people who have shown interest in your business.
Technology that Enables Higher Transparency
Working closely with a pre-owned apparel store? It’s important that you put across what you offer is finely refurbished products (not a first copy but a refurbished authentic piece). The preowned apparel industry is a narrow space (if you look at a country like India) which is getting crammed with startups. In addition to the increasing competition and the complex business nature, as and how people perceive the term pre-owned and judge the aesthetics of the products, at times it’s an ordeal venture. A transparent online strategy is the best to convince the prospect and explain why a pre-owned Louis Vuitton still costs INR 50,000.
How to display the information and convince the customers regarding the authenticity/ condition of the product, projects a challenge. Transparency was the best solution. By leveraging technology it was much easier to put across the message. The product page was modified to accommodate a certificate that states the authenticity of the product and a chat box where the visitor can discuss with the representative. The technology was able to add an additional channel which could help convince the customer.
Parting Note:- Technology can contribute a positive experience to every step in the customer value chain. At the same time investing just in technology is not enough. Falling for the buzzword digital transformation and integrating the latest technology will never promise success. You need to prioritize your customers and business above technology. Use technology as a means to increase your business.