A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending and sponsoring Product Innovation Apparel
in New York City. We were delighted to explore the intersection of fashion and technology alongside the industry’s biggest brands and retailers. The event showcased a number of technology companies that are disrupting the fashion industry through innovation and product improvements. Attendees included CLO Virtual Fashion
, Gerber Technology
, Under Armour
, and Gap
. The two industries merged together with forward thinkers to collaborate on solutions for some challenges retailers are facing in the current marketplace.
Many brands and retailers are facing roadblocks in adopting new technology. While the ease and popularity of improved technology is on the rise, it can still be a challenge to implement these technologies across departments and in large organizations.
Lack of data readiness has stifled many retailer's attempts to improve their services. Some retailers are conditioned to apply metrics that measure the success or failure of new business processes but applying mature metrics to a new technology that shapes the way the customer shops may not be the right way to measure its success.
These innovations can only succeed with internal buy-in from the top down. Competing priorities within an organization forces retailers to ask: What technologies would benefit the whole of the company?
Brands and retailers recognize the importance of harnessing and implementing this technology because it can empower and inform, help understand evolving customers, and prove that details about evolving customers matter.
Customers are more powerful and more complicated than ever with higher expectations for the e-commerce shopping experience and are holding retailers at a higher level of accountability. Mark Charlton, VP of Technical Services at Calvin Klein, PVH, made substantial observations in the ways that the customer base has shifted and evolved in recent years, specifically that "fit has a communication problem
." Brands devote time to perfecting the fit of their items, but as more consumers are shopping online, this notion of fit gets lost when consumers cannot try items on. This poses a new challenge to retailers and brands - how to effectively communicate intended fit and size digitally. He also discussed how fit is increasingly complex, due to trend adoption, ease preference, fabric content, a faster pace in adoption, new body types, customers shopping across locales, and brands entering new markets. There is less focus on body shape, and more focus on ease preference.
True Fit’s co-founder, Jessica Murphy, spoke at the conference to discuss The Flaw of Averages
, and to share ways in which brands can take advantage of data to improve the overall customer experience. “The customer today is empowered, engaged and impatient,” said Murphy. “We have to consider that our customers are engaged at all times but at the same time, never fully engaged. Technology has driven us to live in a constant state of multitasking. Our brains have literally, and clinically evolved.”
She presented that the customer is experience-driven, and each customer expects their interactions with retailers to be customized, uncomplicated and instantaneous. This is an opportunity and challenge to retailers today.
It was an inspiring and thought provoking conference, especially hearing from brands and retailers that experience the same challenges come together as an industry collective to help one another to adapt and thrive in the age of the constantly changing consumer.