How Smart Technology Is Disrupting The Fashion Industry

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Smart technology is making huge advances in almost every industry and sector ranging from manufacturing to healthcare and customer service. So, it should be no surprise that it is also creating big waves in the fashion industry.

Like almost all advancements, however, what’s great for some is not so great for others. Here is how smart tech is interrupting fashion and some of the potential ramifications to retailers.

#1 Fashion Moves Online

In 2016, online shopping reached a tipping point. With 51% of purchases being made online, consumers were officially doing more online shopping than in retail stores.

Overall, retail stores are becoming smaller and fewer and many brands are eschewing retail stores at all. In the age of smart tech, it is now possible to build a fashion powerhouse without ever opening a physical store.

#2 Fashion Gets Smart

From connected jackets to smart sports apparel, clothing is quickly becoming connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Soon, your clothing will get you into your building in the morning and may even be able to unlock and start your car. Heart rate monitors that are somewhat inefficient when worn on the wrist become finely tuned when integrated into a bra. Biofeedback on everything from your golf to your running stride is also available through smart fashion.

#3 Fashion Gets Faster

Advancements in production allow retailers to purchase smaller lots of garments, which can be produced and shipped much more quickly.

This has given rise to a broader range of holiday offerings as well as the introduction of micro-seasons. In addition, this also allows smaller retailers to provide a greater range of offerings to their consumers, and if they find themselves with a huge hit on their hands, they can even order more and get them in the hands of their consumers before demand dies down or the competition catches up.

#4 Fashion Is Driven By Artificial Intelligence

The fashion industry is just one more industry suffering from information overload.

Artificial intelligence (AI), however, can quickly church through masses of data in order to provide useful insights into buying patterns, spending habits, and even color and style preferences. AI can tell you if historically scarlet has been a bigger seller than rust or whether narrow ties have far outpaced wider ties in sales. This data can be then used to design clothing that people really want to wear.

#5 Fashion Gets Personal

Every designer knows that no two bodies are the same.

Two people may theoretically wear the same size, but one may have a smaller waist and wider hips, while the other has a higher waist and lower hips. All of these factors affect how fashion fits. Smart tech allows designers to offer more variations in a single design to fit a wider variety of bodies.

The Challenges Retailers Face

While brick and mortar stores may struggle the most, the truth is consumers simply want more out of retailers today. Here are some challenges that retailers face in the modern world:

#1 Brand Loyalty Faltering

With literally a global marketplace at their fingertips, consumers have more options to choose from than ever before. This is making brand loyalty harder and harder to come by.

In addition, where consumers may have once purchased products from a single brand across a variety of categories, they may now mix and match their brands quite a bit more.

#2 Augmented & Virtual Reality-Driven Experience

Imagine walking into a clothing store and being able to check a garment with your smartphone to see if it fits and how it would look on your actual body.

Home retailers like Ikea and Lowe’s are already leveraging AR and VR to help consumers see how a couch might look in their living room or if an area rug might fit in the room. With this same tech, brick and mortar retailers might actually gain back some ground from online shoppers.

#3 Multi-Channel Shopping

The truth is, when it comes to clothing, most consumers still want to try before they buy. When it comes to the human body, size has very little bearing on fit. Finding one garment that actually looks good and fits well can be a time-consuming chore.

There is little more frustrating than finally finding a garment you love only to discover the store doesn’t have it in your size or the color you want. When consumers know they can quickly jump online and order it right while they are standing in the store, however, they are more likely to frequent stores that offer this option.

#4 Higher Demand For A Seamless Experience

Once consumers have had an experience with this kind of seamless shopping, they want it everywhere.

Retailers that don’t offer both a brick and mortar store where customers can try on apparel and a robust online shop where they can quickly order what you don’t have in stock may quickly find themselves going the way of the buffalo.

#5 Lack Of Data Analyses

One huge advantage that online retailers have over brick and mortar stores is data.

Online retailers know exactly what customers are looking at, how long they are looking, how quickly they buy something or how many times they come back to look at it before buying. This gives online retailers a competitive advantage brick and mortar stores just don’t have.

Smart tech is certainly moving the fashion world forward, but this may also cause some retailers to get left behind. Innovation is always a double-edged sword. Early adopters that jump too soon can find themselves without a market, while retailers that lag too far behind may find themselves outpaced by the competition. The savviest of retailers keep their finger on the pulse of the future and find just the right pace to move into it.



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