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The Fashion Tech Stack Series Part 6: Emerging Tech Products

Image courtesy: Luxury Heterotopia

The fashion tech stack has endless possibilities, primarily due to the opportunities to blend real and digital experiences. Many fashion brands have realized that their digital-only presence has helped them grow in times of limited mobility (aka the pandemic). However, costs of digital-only strategies beyond a certain point escalate to levels in excess of the outlay required for as well as the advantages of having a physical store presence.

This has led to several brands expanding their presence from digital-only to a combination of physical and digital stores, in order to build better experiences and loyalty for customers. A few technological advances and products have been adding to the retail end experiences for customers who now have a choice between buying online or visiting the nearest store to decide their purchase. This is the new omnichannel reality.

Here are three notable advances in the fashion tech stack for omnichannel retail that build upon the D2C experience.

Endless Aisle

Ever walk into a fashion retail store, and don’t find just quite what you want, even though you’ve seen it on the retailer’s site and online store? A shopping assistant might just step up to you with an iPad and offer to show you the inventory available with them in their other locations or in the warehouse, and offer to have it shipped to you at no extra cost. This is the concept of the endless aisle, where you can shop online through their point of sale while getting the full retail experience of the physical store itself. Neiman Marcus is one of the brands to have done this successfully with their Neighbourhood Store concept.

Since touch, feel and other tertiary senses make up such an important part of the fashion buying experience, brands want customers to get the complete 360 degree experience of the store, without having the cost of keeping large inventory at each location. This led to the development of the endless aisle, where you shop digitally while being present physically at the store. The endless aisle can be in several formats – the mobile online store accessible via employees' devices, shopping kiosks or Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminals where you place an order and pay, or even virtual store experiences within the store itself where you can have an interactive experience virtually trying out clothes… which brings us to our second omnichannel tech stack advancement, Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality or AR uses a combination of digital and physical experience allowing customers to “see” how they would look wearing a particular garment. Augmented reality overlays the real world with some elements of digital input to create a combination of both that enhances the customer experience. Canada Goose, a luxury outerwear retailer, creates virtual environments in their trial rooms to replicate the kind of experience customers will have wearing their gear in different types of climate, from “a seed vault in Norway, to the Arctic when it snows”. And it sells more from these experience stores without carrying any inventory other than the trial pieces, at prices in the range of $1000 and more.

Augmented Reality can also be in the form of Magic Mirrors, which show customers what they would look like in various outfits when standing in front of the mirror, essentially an AR integrated camera and monitor setup like your selfie camera. Others have created fitting rooms that recommend sizes of various designs based on infrared measurements of the customer, allowing them to choose online purchase options quickly.

Virtual Reality

Going beyond augmented reality, some fashion brands have begun to develop Virtual Reality (VR) platforms such as on the metaverse, in order to showcase to customers how they can design or put together their outfits. Companies like Nieman Marcus also record the images of customers trying out various outfits so that customers can browse through these when they are ready to make a purchase decision, either through the store or online.

The potential for Virtual Reality in fashion is immense, as it can give brands numerous ideas on future design collections as well as the type of outfits customers are looking for, which brands can then use to detail out their next designs. The value of this feedback is the biggest benefit that brands can derive from the creation of this type of environment.

While these are just three examples of the advance of technology getting added to the fashion tech stack, several innovations in data, artificial intelligence and more will continue to add to the customer experience and the fashion tech stack.

The question for you: Where is your brand on this technology curve?

NOTE: This is the sixth and penultimate part of the fashion tech stack series.

Haven’t read the earlier parts of this series? Catch the first five parts of fashion tech stack here:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Fuel4Fashion is a design, branding and technology consultancy for the fashion and apparel industry. We provide consulting and advisory services across design, business and IT processes to early stage and mid-sized apparel manufacturers and brands looking to grow their business with the help of smart sustainable management practices. Visit our website here and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for regular updates.

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