In recent years, technology has found its way to massively disrupt many of the traditional ways we used to do stuff. How we view and use fashion is no exception. The impact of technology on the fashion industry is one that cannot be ignored. The most common example will be how quickly brick and mortar stores we used to buy our clothes from have been replaced with online stores offering more choices at better prices. Let’s take a look at how future technologies are going to impact the fashion industry further as we know it, and how fashion retailers can be able to take advantage of the great opportunities that these new technologies bring.
Probably the most tech disrupted aspect of fashion has been retail. It is very evident in how quickly online clothing and fashion shops have cannibalized sales of popular brick and mortar shops that did not catch up quickly to changes in technology. Some of these shops have had to close down, and those that survived have changed their strategy to focus more on online retail as a result. That online retailer, Amazon, became the biggest U.S retailer of apparel and accessories in 2018, says it all. Current trends in retail dictate that shops that are going to be successful focus more on a good mobile shopping experience, since people are spending more and more time on their mobile phones and tablets. Retailers should create better mobile applications, and take advantage of the internet to run promotions through e-coupons, offering big discounts online to create more awareness for their products.
Virtual or augmented reality
Yes, big tech is betting on virtual reality to be the next big space after the smartphone revolution. Giants Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and several others have invested massively in this technology, and rightly so. Virtual reality offers a whole different experience than anything before it, and along with it, more opportunities. Shoppers can now try on clothes, glasses, accessories, and more using virtual reality headsets or augmented reality, with images of these accessories being superimposed in their real environment through their smartphone cameras. Some retailers also offer try-on avatars, where shoppers can customize an avatar with real dimensions and try clothes on them before they make a purchase.
It is what everybody is talking about now. Artificial Intelligence. Industries are being swept away by this new wave, and fashion retail is not going to be an exception. Data is being collected everyday by social media that we visit, websites we use, applications on our smartphones, etc. What we do not realize is that this data is the goldmine on which AI is being built, and consumers’ behaviors and interactions provide this technology all the data it needs to be able to predict trends so companies can more accurately produce what consumers need. The end game is always about profit – if you know what the people want and you can give it to them when they want it, you can always be ahead of your competition, and thus, make more money. The Amazon Fire phone, which sadly, was not patronized, came with a feature which allowed you to take a picture of clothing, and be able to buy it on the Amazon online store. That was a pretty early show of the ability of this new technology. These days, many fashion retailers have joined the bandwagon, and soon AI will be bringing a whole new shopping experience to consumers.
For every new buzz, there will always be the skeptics. Not every new technology trend that springs up will be able to make a big or significant impact on the industries it is intended for. However, the fact remains that, in the coming years, technology is going to bring even more possibilities and changes to the ways we traditionally do things. Fashion retailers seeking to be relevant in the industry over the long term should be able to anticipate these changes, and take advantage of the new opportunities that these tech will bring. Even more profound changes are going to take place, your fashion business should not be left behind.