Technology has become a huge part of everyone’s lives over the past decade, with new and exciting advancements emerging every year. No truer has this been than for the fashion industry, with innovative ways of finding, ordering, and receiving the hottest new looks materialising all around us. Here’s some of the ways technology has changed the fashion industry in recent years, and where it might take us in the future.
How has technology changed the online shopping experience?
The proliferation of online shopping in recent years has led to the emergence of fast fashion giants like Pretty Little Thing, Motel Rocks and Shein. These outlets promise style at a great price, with unlimited next day delivery available for a cheap yearly subscription. Using social media to position themselves as key players in the fashion industry, they draw in customers with their convenience, allowing immediate order of ‘trending pieces’ the second they’re considered ‘in’. However, compromising quality materials for inexpensive, instant outfits, these garments are often discarded as soon as the fashion tides turn.
Targeted adverts online are nothing new, but are now being increasingly used to encourage interaction with clothing retailers online. Driving these targeted adverts is data analytics software, which is used by companies to provide real time, personalised shopping experiences for their customers. In other words, the items you search for online, the adverts you click on, the items you ‘add to basket’, all help to build up a picture of who you are and what you like. Because of this, fashion companies know exactly which products to suggest and which products you might like to buy, showing you the chosen items first to make your shopping experience much more convenient.
Emerging app Snap Fashion is a key advancement for online clothes shopping, allowing customers to search for a particular item of clothing they like using a picture. The app then pulls up results for where the item is currently available to buy. There are even options to search by colour or cut, meaning customers are able to get straight to the clothes they really want to see. The app then allows direct check out, meaning the customer can search and order items in minutes, all in one place.
‘The British company has partnered with more than 250 retailers, including big names such as Topshop, Mr Porter, Farfetch, Uniqlo and Selfridges’(Helen James, The Future Of Clothes Shopping).
How has technology changed the in-store shopping experience?
One brand that brings in-store shopping to the next level is Nike. By downloading The Nike App, customers can unlock ‘the insider experience’, referring to exclusive tailored discounts, the ability to request products to try on from your phone, and a way to check out directly from the fitting room, completely bypassing the till. Streamlining the process of in-store shopping provides a much more relaxed and convenient experience for the customer, making them much more likely to return.
Similarly, augmented reality app DressingRoom, created by Gap, allows customers to virtually ‘try on’ clothes in store and at home, without the need to get undressed, as well as the ability to ‘check out’ directly from the dressing room.
What does the future look like for clothes shopping?
Same day delivery, currently available on Amazon, could soon be seen widely adopted by online fashion stores, while cashier-less clothes shops could also make an appearance. This could include adopting smart shelf sensors and cameras, tracking what customers pick up, put down, try on and buy. Customers could simply walk away with their items, being automatically charged without the need to wait in line for the check out.
‘It might seem like a distant future, but the truth is that physical stores are increasingly becoming places for experiences rather than purchases’ (Darell K Rigby, The Future of Shopping). These experiences may be things like Zara’s AR experience window display – where the use of an app brought the shop window models to life, and Burberry’s ‘Magic Mirror’, which placed the customer’s reflection onto a catwalk – but on a much larger scale. Although these features are of little use for the process of actually buying clothes, the showmanship draws in shoppers who come for a fresh new experience, and happen to purchase clothing while they are there.
Using Radio Frequency Identification, Mastercard has announced it has developed a ‘smart mirror’ for installation in clothes shop dressing rooms (Emil Wazkowski, How Technology is Transforming In Store Shopping). The mirror will allow customers to pay for the clothes they are trying on, and walk out of the store in them, as well as changing the lighting of the dressing room to mimic different settings. The mirror also intelligently suggests different items of clothing to pair with the outfit, and is set to hit UK shops soon.