Digital is disruptively transforming the fashion industry, and technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data, augmented reality and virtual reality, automation and robotics, as well as blockchain, will become increasingly important for business management and for intercepting consumers, involving them in an engaging digital experience.
The transition to these new models may appear scary because of the challenges they pose, but the opportunities out there ready to be grabbed are many, according to the major analysts and international marketing trendsetters who discussed the issue during the two live talks in the ‘Digital Transformation’ series, hosted on the Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags Swapcard platform.
Joanna Lowry, Senior Consultant at WSGN and expert in design strategies for luxury, beauty, retail and lifestyle sectors, together with Marcus Taubert, head of Storever, part of the M-Cube group, and expert in in-store digital media, Alfredo Orobio, Founder & CEO of Awaytomars, the largest platform in the world for design talent and Enrico Cietta, Fashion Economist and CEO of Diomedea, as moderator, will tackle these topics offering concrete solutions and demonstrating successful experiences from some of the world’s most innovative businesses.
Six B2B models are emerging from the digital market that offers interesting food for thought, according to Joanna Lowry.
- The affirmation of a smart supply chain, supported by algorithms powered by AI, useful for mapping and managing more efficiently the supply chain and stocks (as the e-commerce giants, such as Alibaba and JD.com have already discovered).
- Predictive algorithms make it possible to target the offer (Alibaba’s Single Day captures the essence of this).
- 3D design, already very popular in the fashion industry, is destined to develop further, meaning that the market can be reached much faster, avoiding over-production and also supporting the rise in on-demand production.
- Virtual collaboration, which has become a necessity during these months of remote working, will continue to maximise productivity and communication in the future.
- Hyper-real showrooms, the format that major brands have chosen to showcase their collections, will connect the creatives with the buyers in increasingly innovative ways.
- Blockchain technology, which will expand its powers in retail marketing too as valid sales support.
How, on the other hand, will B2C transform in relation to digital? Joanna Lowry cites three key concepts:
- The use of AI for data analytics to create a valuable shopping experience.
- The creation of sustainable interactive environments.
- The diffusion of the 'digital human'.
In particular, live stream shopping will assert itself. This is already very popular in Chinese e-commerce, makes it possible to engage in a direct dialogue with the consumer through social platforms, in the same way as Influencer 2.0, which brands will use as their virtual ambassadors. Virtual wear is the tool that the big brands in the fashion industry use (especially Moschino and Gucci), for their gaming areas, which also has the advantage of being sustainable, given that it’s virtual. Inclusiveness will also continue to be a key part of the rapport with the consumer. But it isn’t enough. Platforms will increasingly use personalisation interfaces based on AI to provide users with ad hoc answers, but stores too will be able to benefit from this technology, thanks to interactive apps, which have been useful during the COVID period and are perfect for efficient stock management. The shops themselves will be modelled on the idea of interactive showrooms, powered by social media and technology, as is already the case in the Nike Rising stores, and the Virtual Showcases, which came to life during the pandemic, will be utilised more and more to present products and collections.
And the bricks and mortar? Marcus Taubert is convinced that it will be increasingly phygital in the future.
The consumer’s journey doesn’t start in-store, but right from his or her sofa engaging through social media to click and collect. You need to capture the customer online to persuade him or her to visit the store. Once in-store, the key to success will be to utilise digital tools to offer the consumer an engaging experience through the use of promotional campaigns, communication via social media, touchpoints, digital catalogues and virtual shop windows, just as Benetton and Bally, who have developed the architecture of their new stores through digital instruments.
The design of the collections will also be revolutionised in the new digital world, as shown by the innovative example of the Awaytomars co-creating platform.
"Founded in 2015, it was a new experience, never seen before and linked to the current zeitgeist, that will revolutionise the world of fashion," according to Alfredo Orobio.
From the sketch to the marketplace, designers will be able to put forward their ideas, share them and co-create their garments, then see them created and even involving consumers in the creative process.
Companies are advised to aim, without delay, for an omni-channel approach and the implementation of new technologies such as AI/VR and to think about how they can use them strategically in their businesses, both from a B2B and B2C perspective, adapting them to their own business model, product and company scale.
The next in the series of live talks by Expo Riva Schuh and Gardabags will take place at 14:00 on Thursday 25th March on the Swapcard platform, to talk about 'The Post-COVID Globalisation Process'.