Technology has changed the way we do almost everything over the past twenty to thirty years. But one of the biggest impacts it has had on our lives is the way we do our shopping, whether that’s groceries, gifts, homeware, clothes or shoes. This has consequently had an impact on the retail and fashion industry.
In fact, technology has affected a number of aspects in the fashion and retail industry, creating both opportunities and problems for those involved. With highstreet stores struggling but e-commerce booming, it really is a mixed bag in terms of results. That’s why Inscripture.com have taken a look at how technology is changing the fashion industry and whether this is for better or for worse.
E-commerce is changing the way we shop
You can buy almost anything online these days and thanks to ‘next day delivery’ you don’t even have to wait that long to receive your parcel. This is particularly true for a lot of online fashion retailers who are now able to offer a huge range of delivery options to their customers to meet demand. Do you need a new dress for that party tomorrow? You’ve got it! You don’t even have to drag yourself down to the shops to find one, you can browse through hundreds of options from the comfort of your own living room.
While this is great news for consumers, it means that high street stores have suffered as a result. Given the choice of ordering online and having your clothes brought straight to your door, or dragging yourself out to your local shopping centre (which lets face it doesn't always have the right size or style that you want), many would choose the former.
This has led to many high street stores closing their doors in recent years, with huge chains going bust. This doesn't mean some of them haven't continued their business online, but it means they no longer have a presence on the highstreet. As such, e-commerce is having a mixed effect on fashion retailers, creating plenty of opportunities for some, but reducing the need for actual physical stores.
Embracing the power of social media and its influencers
Social media has given the fashion industry a whole new platform with which to target customers. What’s more, thanks to the new wave of fashion influencers, they're able to use celebrity endorsement to make new trends viral in a matter of hours. Take for example Kylie Jenner, with literally millions of followers all she has to do is wear a particular brand or style, leaving fashionistas all over the world wanting to wear the same thing! This creates plenty of opportunities for big brands to use these types of celebs to promote their products.
What’s more, social media has given fashion brands the opportunity for some great reactive marketing. The perfect example of this is the story of a woman who shared a screenshot of an insulting message she’d received on a dating app, in which a man felt the need to tell her the dress she was wearing in the picture wasn't very flattering. The dress was from ASOS and when they saw her post they decided to use her picture on their site to prove that fashion (and the world) has no place for internet trolls and awful people like him. This made them very popular and empowering in the eyes of their consumers.
That said, social media has also created problems for fashion retailers, with customers able to share reviews or bad experiences online and make these go viral. For example, if a company is found to be selling real fur or their clothes are poor quality, customers can share this online for anyone to see. This can create serious backlash for big brands.
Using Artificial Intelligence to target customers
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) fashion retailers are able to collect a huge amount of data about their customers. Each time you buy from a store or sign up for a newsletter you are asked to enter your personal details, even if it is just your name and email address. Using this information retailers are able to re-target customers with the latest trends they might be interested in, or drop them an email to let them know that they currently have a sale on. It also presents them with the opportunity to send them exclusive and tailored discounts.
Making the most of Virtual Reality and mobile apps
In today’s digital world we’re used to having everything at our finger tips and being able to live life on the move. This has meant that fashion retailers have had to adapt. It was one thing when people were shopping from their computers at home, but people are now shopping on the move, be that in the pub, on the train or at work. In response to this many online retailers have had to optimise their websites for mobile users and many have created dedicated shopping apps. This means that consumers are able to purchase their products often with just the click of a button!
Not only this, but Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly making it’s way into the world of fashion. Receiving backlash for a product not fitting right or not matching the picture online is not good news for a retailer. That’s why some have begun to experiment with VR products which allow users to model the clothes on an avatar of themselves so they’ll get a better idea of what it will look like when it arrives. This can help them to make better choices about what they purchase.
There are even some apps where users can stand in front of a mirror and look through their phone at an image of what a certain style of shoe would look like on their feet. They can play with the style and colour until they find the perfect match. They can then purchase these in store or online.
It’s clear to see that technology has already had a huge impact on the fashion industry and that this doesn't look like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon. With new technologies emerging all the time, this presents retailers and fashion brands with new opportunities to target consumers. That said, it can also bring with it more problems, which mean brands need to be prepared to deal with any issues that may arise.
All of these changes mean that it is now easier than ever before to set up your own fashion brand, or use clothing as a tool for building a community or promoting your business. Designing and manufacturing your own printed t-shirts is a great way to get started.
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