Tech in fashion industry has hit acceleration button
The estimated $3 trillion fashion industry has typically been slow in adapting newer technology in the past. But the current pandemic has had industry hit the acceleration button. Fibre2Fashion spoke to few techexperts to know their views.
There are significant opportunities for businesses to drive competitive advantage through increased digitisation across the supply chain, particularly through 3D design and development. It has the capacity to shorten lead times and help get products to market, even when people are forced to work virtually. These shorter routes to market will allow for less stock risk, and will mean that businesses will work in a more responsive way to market ﬂuctuations.
I totally agree, but now it’s going to change. I think the circumstances will make everyone move faster and look for new opportunities. I think e-commerce will be on top of the list and the fashion industry will be forced to adopt new tech solutions.
(a): Retail is an entirely diﬀerent conversation but with respect to fashion: how the creative side of the business functions going forward will change dramatically. The use of new technologies, especially 3D solutions, will assist designers, merchandisers and product developers to bring collections to the market in a much faster way. Timelines will shrink, there will be less physical samples that get thrown into landfills, and better, more collaborative decisions will be made with 3D concerning silhouettes, colours, patterns, accessories and other details. Changes can be made on the spot and all of this will be shared with factories in real time. The same holds true for the textiles involved as well as how things will appear within the retail environment. These are not hopeful plans or ideas for the future, but this is taking place today. (b): This is an understatement. One of the reasons the industry is in such a difficult position is because the digital transformation and process improvements needed have not been implemented.
I agree the fashion industry has been quite slow in adopting new technologies, and this is due to the peculiarity of the industry where the production quite often is not managed internally by the final brands. Being so, they are not incentivised to invest that much in technology. However, I believe this crisis has accelerated the openness of fashion corporates toward digital technology, as in same cases using digital was the only possibility to continue the activities. I’m referring for instance to the use of digital showrooms, or new ways of selling to the end customers such as using live sales streaming.
Yes, it is true the uptake of technology in this area hasn’t moved as fast as one could have expected but we believe we are seeing a substantial shift in the current context, where the online experience has come under such sharp focus and the offline shopping journey and services will have to be adapted. To optimise the online experience, we believe we will see the fashion industry put a much larger investment in emerging technologies and customer engagement tools, such as VR, AR, AI personal stylists, customised delivery preferences, alternative payment methods and more, to deliver a more personalised end to end service. The future of the in-store checkout will be one that is free of cash, lines, paper receipts and stationery checkout hardware, and will need to be seamlessly integrated with online when it comes to the purchase, the transaction, as well as the last mile delivery and post purchase experience. We are already seeing these come into play as retailers reopen stores and prioritise cleanliness, new try-on/return processes, and touch less payments to minimise contact at checkout. Even in-store events, which have become very popular, may be challenged to go online. Retailers will have to bridge the gap between the digital and physical to provide a seamless customer experience across all channels and touch points.
While it is true that the estimated $3 trillion fashion industry has typically been slow in adapting newer technology, it's equally true that many big brands have made significant strides in using technology, especially to streamline their retail front stores and supply chains. The impact of the current pandemic has only accelerated the thrust on technology adoption, especially for consumer-facing retail companies. This trend is here to stay, regardless of the pandemic.
There is significant anxiety regarding the timing and extent of While it is true that the estimated $3 trillion fashion industry has typically been slow in adapting newer technology, it's equally true that many big brands have made significant strides in using technology, especially to streamline their retail front stores and supply chains. The impact of the current pandemic has only accelerated the thrust on technology adoption, especially for consumer-facing retail companies. This trend is here to stay, regardless of the pandemic. The fashion industry’s recovery from covid-19. In late February, the biggest concern was supply of product from China. Today, the biggest concern is demand for product in North America and Europe. There have already been a few retail bankruptcies with more to come. Also, I expect that many Asian production facilities will go out of business. Many of my customers are interested in our ‘Covid Recovery Capsule’ solution which deploys available inventory—currently in stores, in DCs, in transit and at the factory—to the channels and regions with highest demand. It also analyses causal data such as increasing infection rates by locale and makes sure that inventory does not sit idle during periods of store closures and low traffic.
We had already been observing an increase in the fashion industry’s adoption of new technology in the nine months prior to the pandemic. This trend significantly accelerated during the covid-19 crisis, as e-commerce moved to the forefront. At the same time, retailers have been exploring how to use technology to manage the in-store experience going forward.
Published on: 24/06/2020
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.