A few years ago, people did not find it safe to feed information of their debit/credit cards while shopping online. Instagram used to be non-existent in the fashion world, but now, the social media platform has taken the landscape by storm. Direct-to-consumer labels did not exist then, but corporate giants such as Tata and Reliance industries have ventured into e-commerce space and are betting big on private labels to drive sales. In 2017, things are expected to turn a little more sci-fi with artificial intelligence and big data analytics taking over the evolution of the fashion and retail segment. As we embark on a New Year, let’s take a look at some of the emerging technology and trends that are likely to redefine this space in 2017.
Smarter recommendation engines: Smart recommendation engines will help to reduce the complexity of a decision to just a few suggestions. Big data analytics will help recommendation engines to filter data by analyzing user behavior and later process it to predict and showcase some of the most likely items a customer can buy. The launch of Facebook Messenger’s bot store in 2016 has inspired several brands in the fashion and retail space to experiment with interactive mediums. In 2016, several fashion and retail brands including Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, and eBay launched their own versions of bots. This year, more brands are expected to launch interactive channels and make consumer engagement possible at a much wider scale than could have been achieved before.
Virtual trial rooms: Before making a purchase, be it online or offline, customers are keen to try out their outfits. The process of waiting, going in and out of fitting rooms often tends to be time-consuming, and, at times, bothersome for both consumers and fashion retail stores. Here, augmented reality and virtual reality can be the solution. Virtual reality mirrors help to record one's measurements and display clothing items on a virtual screen. Through virtual fitting, customers can view different outfits with simply a swipe of the hand, and the retailers can keep measurements on file to ensure the perfect size every time. In addition, VR allows designers to create better designs and new products through an immersive 360-degree look at the clothes that they are designing. Virtual reality is here to stay and will change the way customers interact with brands.
Big Data analytics: The integration of big data collection tools and data collection automation is helping to reshape the fashion and retail landscape–and with good reason. Companies are now learning to use data analytics and consumer feedback to find patterns and identify trends more effectively than ever. Fashion firms are not just relying on designers to launch new styles, but are making use of big data to create predictive algorithms intended to help and guide designers to create styles as per customers’ requirements. Big data analytics is also going to play a major role in bringing down the cost per order by helping marketers to optimally reach out to their target audience and spend less on marketing.
Omni-channel retailing: Both offline and online retailers are adopting omnichannel strategies to sustain in the fashion industry in the long run. In 2017, we can expect retailers across the country to push their omnichannel strategies further in the pursuit of providing truly seamless shopping experiences to customers. This year is bound to witness more brands going the omnichannel way to increase sales and drive customer engagement.
Personalization will be given importance: Consumers will look for more personalization and money-can’t-buy offers from retailers. Purchase histories, content tailored to customers’ preferences and location-based technology will be put to use more in order to design personalized offers for shoppers. Retailers will make use of technology to collect their customers’ data and design personalized loyalty programs and offers, rather than continuing with the generic options of the past.
Same-day shipping to become prominent: Usually, in order to avail free shipping a customer had to make a minimum amount of purchase. But, with more players entering the fashion and retail space, free shipping will no longer be based upon on any conditions. Also, most of the retailers will try to strengthen their logistics and make same-day delivery options possible to outdo the competition.Doesn’t it really seem like 2017 will be a turning point for the fashion and retail space? As digital realities steam forward, newer technologies and trends are expected to democratize this space. With the evolving consumer tastes and preferences, rising confidence levels, increasing disposable incomes, and exposure to international events and fashion icons, many more trends are likely to emerge and bring about a positive impact on the purchase behavior of consumers.