Today, as the importance of a digital presence is recognized, especially for D2C (direct to consumer) initiatives, digital native brands are also realizing the importance of an offline presence to foster greater consumer satisfaction. As a result, offline and online fashion brands are taking an omnichannel approach to providing customers with a better value proposition. Anurag Saboo, co-founder, DaMENSCH shares his insights into the technology that is reshaping the fashion industry.
Some of the multiple tech trends dominating the fashion firmament include:
Artificial Intelligence: By keeping customer experience at the heart of operations, AI helps brands deliver personalized products and services. AI helps predict fashion trends by tracking social media traffic and understanding consumer behavior, providing recommendations based on customers’ previous purchase records, time spent browsing specific pages of the brand portal and much more. AI minimizes the percentage of errors during production, thereby reducing operational costs, improving efficiency, increasing revenue, and improving customer experience. Additionally, AI highlights what’s trending for brands and customers and even helps predict emerging styles based on changing shopper habits.
Chatbots: A growing number of D2C fashion players are using chatbots to manage customer queries and expand consumer engagement for cross-selling and upselling. Chatbots are also part of conversational commerce where brands use WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to interact directly with consumers to sell clothes.
D2C mode: An online presence is now considered imperative to interact with consumers and sell clothes directly. In addition to ensuring better margins, D2C enables brands to benefit from better control of customer experiences, complete visibility of consumer data and direct access to buyers which promotes greater brand loyalty. . Additionally, it helps brands streamline future growth strategies based on changing demand. Through mobile apps and social media platforms, brands can seamlessly reach out to customers when needed.
Blockchain: This innovative technology transforms and protects supply chains by tracking and recording all assets and transactions through a permanent, tamper-proof database. By giving each product a unique digital identifier, blockchain improves supply chain efficiency. Therefore, apart from products, data and documents can also be exchanged securely. Using blockchain, brands can create digital designs, which will be virtually impossible to counterfeit. Blockchain could also have a major role to play in the Metaverse, which is a promising area for the fashion world.
The Metaverse: This coming new realm can be described as the merging of the real and virtual worlds. Here, customers could be offered an immersive experience via VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) when selecting clothes. Customers can then “try on” the pre-selected garments in virtual try-on rooms. Once the selection is made, it can be delivered to them through the brand’s online or offline stores.
In the Metaverse, clothing can be customized to individual preferences and different sizes. For example, a consumer can select a specific style, print pattern, and color. He will then receive many summary photos showing him wearing all the chosen styles. The consumer then places his order and enters a 3D measurement cabin. A multi-digit size number is generated and sent to a computerized 3D modeler. A digital printer produces the required 3D print which is sent to a micro-factory, which manufactures only one part according to the order.
Once the Metaverse becomes a reality, digital goods will come into their own as brands monetize their best products through NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Slow fashion: Another noticeable trend is the preference among growing cohorts of consumers for clothing made using sustainable practices. The emerging trend has immense implications for the fashion fraternity – one of the biggest contributors to global warming due to unsustainable fast fashion practices. This refers to the universal practice of rapidly producing garments using cheap but high carbon drag synthetic fabrics.
In contrast, slow fashion deploys sustainable manufacturing practices that use environmentally friendly materials. Although relatively expensive, these garments are durable, meaning users do not need to change clothes periodically like with fast fashion. Hence, sustainable fashion brands are gaining prominence due to growing consumer demand.
Eco-Friendly Fabrics: Believe it or not, these unique and eco-friendly alternatives are made from cactus, pineapple, apple, orange, banana, potato, mushroom , algae, nettles and more. Most are made from the by-products of various industries, reducing the waste of discarded items and conserving Earth’s resources.
For example, Vegea or wine leather is a fabric produced from waste grape skins (from winemaking), as well as vegetable oils and other natural fibers from agro-industry. Then there is nettle fiber, enjoyed by humans in the Bronze Age. Made from nettle plants, the use of nettle fibers quickly declined after the discovery of cotton as the latter was more convenient and easier to grow. The fiber from wild Himalayan nettles is perfect for denim. Best of all, these items are biodegradable.
The above trends clearly show that technological innovations are increasingly driving the shift to sustainable practices. Simultaneously, they highlight the need to leverage digital tools to maintain an online and offline presence that fosters greater brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.