How did Pandemic Impact the Fashion Retail
How did Pandemic Impact the Fashion Retail

2020 has forced many businesses to reflect upon their existing plans. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on almost every industry from essentials to non-essentials. Businesses faced issues like lockdowns, shutting down, pressure to deliver quickly, regulated opening and closing hours, along health and safety concerns. These major disruptions in industries made strategic players reinvent their brand. And, fashion industry which is already trying to keep pace with customers focusing on eco-friendly products and digital shifts was rocked by pandemics more. 

‘Casualization’ was in progress, casual Fridays are now from Monday to Thursday, concerts got canceled, weddings postponed, thus impacting how, when, and why customers shop. 

Anxiety/ Worry for the Industry

Companies have seen the most awful financial performance in 2020, which is, even more, worse than the global financial crisis in 2008-09.  

Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Business of Fashion described 2020 as a difficult year and shared that "the coming year will require fashion companies to make significant changes in their value chains, as on many other fronts, while learning to reduce their risks and manage in a climate of uncertainty”. 

Businesses started paying more attention to monitor the emerging markets and diversifying their risk by entering into other growth areas. The excess use of social media platforms by almost all fashion businesses is creating challenges as well as high competition for businesses to retain their customers.

Customers have started giving weightage to the fashion products which have a positive impact on the environment and thus, fashion industries have to focus on the usage of sustainable fabric and promoting the same through their new sustainable model. The fashion industry has always experienced its journey from ‘need’ to ‘want’ to ‘aspire’, which makes it an evolving sector where there are a group of challenges and a range of opportunities. 

Pandemic has made the fashion industry, remarket and retarget themselves. And then ‘Department Shows’ and ‘Virtual Fashion Shows’ became the new normal, bringing new ways of being seen and understood by the customers. This new-age customer and their changed behavior brought interesting lessons for the fashion industry and made the businesses design a new strategy model by focusing on every customer as ‘one segment’. 

Good News is that ‘It’s FASHION’

The fashion industry is just transforming not disappearing, as fashion is an essential part of one’s lifestyle. The difference this industry has observed in the last year is the shift of the ground rules of self-care, from haircuts, facials, manicures to breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels.

Customers lost interest in buying formal and professional clothes and started buying comfortable clothing and loungewear, and workwear is not a category anymore. 

Erin Schmidt, a Senior Analyst at Coresight Research, mentioned, “The consumer is rewriting that definition of workwear. And it might be a little while for employers to figure this out”. 

But very soon customers have realized that we are just ‘out of office’ and in the new ‘on-camera’ zone, where looking and feeling best will bring confidence and motivation to your work. 

Customers have started giving preference to ‘comfort’, and the fashion industry taught all, that comfort doesn’t mean sacrificing style. The new customer lifestyle comprises of casual-aesthetic, and brands are focusing on the launch of the ‘athleisure' collection. 

Brands just need to revise their marketing strategies through weighted content which influences the customer to buy, as women are not buying lipsticks as it gets smudge inside the mask but are buying eye makeup as it emphasizes their ‘smize’. 
 

 
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Top 15 Technology Trends Reshaping Fashion Retail in 2024: Dress for the Future
Top 15 Technology Trends Reshaping Fashion Retail in 2024: Dress for the Future
 

The fashion industry is in the midst of a digital revolution, with technology weaving its way into every aspect of retail, from design and production to marketing and customer experience. As we step into 2024, the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, presenting exciting opportunities for both established brands and emerging players. To stay ahead of the curve, understanding the key technology trends reshaping fashion retail is crucial.

This article dives deep into the top 15 trends that will have a significant impact in the coming year, providing insights and examples to help you leverage them for success. Whether you're a fashion designer, retailer, or simply an avid consumer, buckle up for a journey into the future of fashion.

1. Immersive Shopping Experiences:

Gone are the days of static images and basic product descriptions. Consumers crave engaging and interactive experiences, and technology is delivering. Here are the key drivers:

  • Augmented Reality (AR): Imagine virtually trying on clothes before buying them. AR superimposes digital clothing models onto users, allowing them to see how garments fit and look on their specific body type. This reduces returns and boosts customer satisfaction. (Source: The AR/VR Headset Market is Expected to Reach $20.4 Billion by 2024, Statista)
  • Virtual Reality (VR): Take things a step further by stepping into immersive, 3D virtual showrooms. Brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger are already offering VR experiences, allowing customers to explore collections and interact with products in a realistic setting.
  • 3D Product Visualization: High-quality 3D models give a detailed view of products from all angles, zoom levels, and even in different lighting conditions. This enhances online shopping experiences and increases conversion rates. (Source: 3D Modeling Market to Reach $3.8 Billion by 2027, 3D Printing Industry)

2. Personalization at its Peak:

One-size-fits-all is a relic of the past. Consumers expect personalized experiences, and technology is making it possible:

  • AI-powered Recommendations: Leverage customer data and purchase history to suggest relevant products, predict styles they'll love, and offer personalized styling advice. (Source: 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized experiences, Epsilon)
  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: These AI-powered tools provide real-time customer support, answer product inquiries, and offer personalized recommendations, 24/7.
  • Dynamic Content: Showcasing products and offers tailored to individual preferences based on demographics, browsing behavior, and past purchases creates a more relevant and engaging experience.

3. Livestream Shopping Takes Center Stage:

Livestream shopping blends entertainment and real-time commerce, allowing brands to connect with audiences directly and generate instant sales. Expect to see:

  • Interactive Livestreaming: Viewers can ask questions, interact with hosts, and purchase products in real-time, creating a dynamic and engaging shopping experience.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Partnering with relevant influencers for livestream shopping events leverages their audience trust and drives sales.
  • Shoppable Livestreams: Products featured in the livestream are tagged and instantly purchasable, removing friction from the buying journey.

4. Omnichannel Integration Seamlessly Blends Online and Offline:

The lines between physical and digital retail are blurring. Here's how:

  • Click-and-Collect: Customers order online and pick up in-store, offering convenience and flexibility.
  • Buy Online, Return In-Store (BORIS): Allow customers to return online purchases to physical stores for added convenience.
  • Mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS): Empower store associates with mobile devices to assist customers anywhere on the shop floor, enhancing the in-store experience.

5. Sustainability Takes Center Stage:

Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of fashion. Technology is helping brands become more sustainable:

  • Transparency through Blockchain: Blockchain technology enables tracking the origin and journey of materials, ensuring ethical sourcing and responsible production.
  • Sustainable Materials and Production Processes: Utilizing recycled materials, organic fibers, and low-impact dyeing techniques is becoming increasingly important.
  • Circular Economy Initiatives: Resale platforms and rental services encourage clothing reuse and extend the life cycle of garments.

6. Voice Commerce Emerges as a Powerful Tool:

Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are changing how we interact with technology, and fashion is no exception. Expect to see:

  • Voice-activated Shopping: Purchase clothes hands-free using voice commands, ideal for multitasking or busy consumers.
  • Product Information and Reviews: Ask voice assistants for product details, size recommendations, and customer reviews for informed decision-making.

7. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Streamlines Operations:

AI is automating tasks and boosting efficiency across the fashion value chain:

  • Demand Forecasting: AI algorithms analyze sales data and trends to predict future demand, optimizing inventory management and reducing stockouts.
  • Automated Design and Production: AI can generate design ideas, personalize patterns, and even optimize production processes.
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention: AI helps identify and prevent fraudulent transactions, protecting both brands and customers.

8. The Rise of Social Commerce:

Social media platforms are evolving into powerful shopping destinations:

  • Shoppable Posts and Stories: Allow customers to purchase products directly through social media posts, eliminating the need to switch platforms.
  • Social Proof and Influencer Marketing: Leverage user-generated content and influencer partnerships to build trust and drive sales.
  • Social Gifting: Social media platforms are introducing gifting features, making it easier to purchase and send fashion items to friends and family.

9. The Metaverse Beckons:

The metaverse, a virtual world where people can interact, shop, and socialize, is still in its early stages, but fashion brands are already experimenting.

  • Virtual Fashion: Design and sell digital clothing items specifically for avatars within the metaverse.
  • Virtual Showrooms and Experiences: Create immersive virtual spaces where customers can explore collections and interact with brands.
  • NFTs and Digital Ownership: Offer unique, limited-edition digital fashion items secured through NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

10. Data-Driven Decision Making:

Data is king, and fashion brands are leveraging it to gain insights and make informed decisions:

  • Customer Analytics: Analyze customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history to understand their needs and personalize offerings.
  • Marketing Attribution: Measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across different channels and optimize advertising spend.
  • Trend Forecasting: Identify emerging trends and styles based on social media data, search trends, and sales patterns.

11. Robotics and Automation Take Over Repetitive Tasks:

Robots are taking over repetitive tasks in warehouses and factories, improving efficiency and accuracy:

  • Automated Picking and Packing: Robots can speed up order fulfillment and reduce errors.
  • Quality Control and Inspection: Robots can inspect garments for defects with greater precision than humans.
  • Automated Customer Service: Chatbots powered by AI can handle basic customer inquiries, freeing up human agents for complex issues.

12. The Power of Community and Co-Creation:

Brands are building stronger relationships with customers by fostering a sense of community and co-creation:

  • User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaigns: Encourage customers to share photos and videos wearing your clothes, leveraging their authenticity and reach.
  • Crowdfunding and Collaborative Design: Allow customers to contribute to product design and development through crowdfunding platforms.
  • Loyalty Programs and Exclusive Experiences: Reward loyal customers with exclusive access to products, events, and experiences.

13. Cybersecurity Becomes Paramount:

As technology advancements create new opportunities, cybersecurity threats also evolve. Brands need robust security measures:

  • Data Protection: Implement strong data encryption and access controls to protect customer information.
  • Payment Security: Ensure secure payment gateways and transaction processing to prevent fraud.
  • Cybersecurity Awareness and Training: Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices to minimize risks.

14. The Future of Retail is Phygital:

The physical and digital worlds will converge further, creating seamless and engaging experiences.

  • Interactive In-Store Displays: Interactive displays with AR features and product information enrich the shopping experience.
  • Personalized In-Store Recommendations: Utilize customer data to offer personalized product recommendations while they shop in-store.
  • Frictionless Checkout: Implement self-checkout options and mobile payment solutions for faster and more convenient transactions.

15. Continuous Innovation is Key:

The fashion industry is constantly evolving, and staying ahead of the curve requires embracing continuous innovation. Here are some key strategies:

  • Invest in Research and Development: Allocate resources to explore emerging technologies and experiment with new solutions.
  • Partner with Tech Companies: Collaborate with technology providers to develop innovative solutions and access expertise.
  • Adopt an Agile Mindset: Be open to change, experiment quickly, and learn from failures to continuously improve.

By embracing these top 15 technology trends, fashion brands can unlock new opportunities, enhance customer experiences, and thrive in the ever-evolving retail landscape. Remember, this is just the beginning. The future of fashion is brimming with possibilities, and those who embrace technology will be the ones shaping it.

 

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