Recommended Read #7: The Future of Online Fashion

Don Hoffman

Don Hoffman

Though initially slow to embrace eCommerce, luxury retailers are catching up fast. In fact, some of the most exciting innovation has been happening in this sector recently, as major fashion brands seek to create immersive customer experiences that amplify and enhance traditional in-store transactions.

And the financial incentive is strong. Growth of luxury sales online soared 24% in 2017, according to Bain & Company, yet that figure accounts for only 9% of the total global market.

So what does the future hold? Which brands are making the biggest strides? What technologies are having an impact? And what changes can shoppers expect to see soon? To answer these questions, we scoured the web for the most insightful articles as part of our "Recommended Read" series.

First up, an article from Forbes that outlines the biggest stumbling block: how to successfully sell online while maintaining the luxury aspect of the brand. It also spotlights five major movers and shakers, including two of our favorites –  Farfetch and the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP) – both of whom are taking online fashion retailing to the next level. Read it here: 5 Brands That Reveal The Future Of Luxury Online.

We also like this in-depth piece by the market intelligence firm CB Insights, which focuses on the technology powering fashion innovation – from virtual reality dressing rooms to temperature-changing fabrics. For industry insiders, this report is a must read, with updates on product design (including how AI is influencing brands), manufacturing (particularly the impact of 3D printing), inventory management (with an examination of how blockchain will affect the supply chain), and more. Here's the full story: The Future Of Fashion: From Design To Merchandising, How Tech Is Reshaping The Industry.

The Brooklyn-based tech blog Futurism.com has a chatty overview about 3D body scans, which promise to revolutionize the fashion industry by making poor-fitting clothes a thing of the past. Leading the charge is Amazon, which snapped up the startup Body Labs in 2017. The biggest reason may be to address a major downside to the eCommerce boom, which is that consumers are returning items (particularly clothes) much more often, negatively impacting bottom line revenue. Give the piece a read to learn more about some other companies in the mix: Ill-Fitting Clothes: One More Thing We (Probably) Won’t Have to Deal With in the Future.

Finally, this post from the website Futures Platform provides some thoughts on the role brick-and-mortar stores will play in the future. It's a breezy piece but a quick read and raises some interesting points. Here's the link: The Future of Retail - Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar.

Enjoy these articles and stay tuned for our next Recommended Read!

Stage 1: Fragmented: Multiple Channels

You’re a digital dinosaur!

You have a beautiful website, but with fragmented digital experiences, you run the risk of extinction.

It’s time to evolve.

Your audiences want a seamless experience, no matter what's happening behind the scenes. When your experience is different or difficult, it’s important to start with the basics, such as cultivating a holistic approach to online digital experiences. Realign your teams, platforms, processes, goals, and metrics around a comprehensive view of the online experience. Focus on the end-to-end customer journey cutting across channels, desktop and mobile.

separate channels animation circle t-rex dinosaur square
Stage 2: Integrated: Multiple channels

You’re a fish!

Signs of exciting life are starting to form. Your DX is responsive and adaptive but it’s not quite personalized yet.

Keep swimming!

The integration of your brand content across every touchpoint (website, online store, social media, emails, apps, point of sale) creates immersive experiences. These flagship sites combine content-rich brand experiences with immediate conversion capabilities. Business teams and marketing are closely aligned. However, while the digital experience is responsive and adaptive, it’s not yet personalized.

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Stage 3: Instant: Global expansion

You’re a crocodile!

You’re taking it global. Speed and scalability are key and just like a crocodile, you’re fast…but you’re clumsy.

Oh snap!

In this stage, the online digital experience becomes completely dynamic. You need content that is global, yet relevant, with plenty of local insights: Who is the user? Are they using a mobile phone? Is it raining where they are? Is it snowing? If it is, maybe they need warm, waterproof boots. All of this contextualized information creates a better user experience. With one global orchestration, you’re able to adapt everything, in whatever country or language you choose – while keeping turnaround times low. So keep evolving.

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Stage 4: Dynamic: Real time personalization

You’re a lion!

You’re reaching more customers in more countries and languages than ever before, and now you’re finally hunting and collecting info with precision.

But you can do more to keep your brand roaring!

As you graduate to the Instant level, you’re able to rapidly update everything - not just in one language and for one country, but in 20 languages and for 100 countries. Speed and scalability are key, driven by the need to roll out global campaigns in all languages and all touchpoints and make updates in minutes or hours, not weeks. But there’s still more to do to reach nirvana.

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Stage 5: Immersive: Elevated experiences

You’re Captain Content!

You’ve done it! You have opposable thumbs AND you’re saving the world with your seamless, elevated customer experiences.

You're a superhero in the digital space.

Your digital world and your physical world are blending together in the most complementary way possible. When shoppers visit your store, they’ll be greeted with their pre-selected products. Language changes dynamically depending on country of origin – it's like the whole store was set up just for your one specific customer.

In this final stage, your customer experience is truly immersive and superior, and your flagship store merges your physical and digital world into one, with a truly personalized individual experience.

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