Berlin Fashion Tech takeaways
Fashion week in Berlin was hosting a Fashion Tech conference on the latest developments in the e-commerce and retail sector and on the upcoming trends in wearables and smart textiles. Connectivity and Internt of Things (IoT) were a silver lining of this event. Not only how fashion is being marketed, but also products itself will get digitally connected. Here are some takeaways of the event and a short description of what latest technology trends can do for the fashion industry and the way we present it.
Virtual reality technology (VR) that is already being implemented in various industries, can get a new perspective also for retail shops. Currently it’s mainly used for storytelling, but in the future it’s expected to be more and more involved in the presentation of the products itself. Fast Forward Imaging (http://www.fastforward-imaging.com/) presented their VR goggles, that took us to a virtual store, where we were able to look around, see the products available and by touching them even see them up-close, details, price and availability and finally to put them in cart and order them. The technology enables users to shop virtually from the comfort of our own sofa. It enables retailers to present their products freely wherever they want – summer collection on the beach of Caribbean for example, or skiing collection on the ski slopes.
Augmented reality (AR) is currently also already being used at fashion shows, as seen during the last 2016 fashion shows, but the technology is still quite expensive. Jasna Rok (http://www.jasnarok.com/) showcased an example of of a hologram, that enables retailers to display products anywhere and additionally by moving the hologram, change the perspective, the color etc. Even though brands are not implementing this on a large scale yet, we believe this technology will be a game changer in a way fashion or in general products are being showcased today.
DYNAMIC PRICE LABELING
A very nice showcase of how technology can help in the price competitive retail space were electronic price labels by Mariella Labels (http://www.ellafashion.com/). A label shows real-time price, but the technology enables the store to update those immediately, to offer „happy hour“ special price offers, campaigns… This flexibility and centralized change point enable consistency and a more dynamic approach to pricing. Additionally, it also helps with the inventory and has built-in anti-theft system.
Multiple designers at the event showed how clothes can be an interactive extension of our inner selves that adapt to different situations and be seamlessly integrated into our life . Some examples of such clothing are pollution/tracking clothing, smart jewelery, clothing that can charge our phones, self heating jackets… also digital printing technologies that enable customers to choose their own colors, patterns and get the garments printed directly in front of them. Google and Levis even introduced interactive jeans, that react to touch, where typing and swiping the fabric sens signal to chip and hence to smartphone. Furthermore smart fitness apparel that measures heart rate, speed and running rhythm and can be evaluated with the use of a smartphone; it additionally can give tips/feedback on training style and so on… What is common to most of these products is that the technology isn’t visible directly, although very useful, which makes it harder for retailers to market it. Mass production for such products, connectivity and power supply are still issues that have to be solved, but marketing will be one of the main challenges for the retailers. According to the experts speaking at the event, the market will become relevant in 2020 to 2030.
Technology based devices in the past took a „one size fits all“ approach, but nowadays one of the key areas of success is the ability of personalization of such devices. Smartphones are a great example of such accomplishment. Even though there are only a couple of major brands that dominate the market with devices that look pretty much the same, they can be personalized by each end user (with different applications, backgrounds, ring tones, cases etc.). Trends show that in the future smartphones will be the main hub for monitoring connected devices and that there will be always more of those (even clothes). Due to it’s huge potential brands will definitely have to explore this area more.
Last but not least, with the implementation of the technology, brands will get access to a lot of consumer data and they will have to make it their friend. Measure everything from available sources and using it accordingly in marketing and product development strategy will be essential for success. In the future we will see a rise of aggregators, such as comparison pages, e-commerce pages, Zalando & Co and for brands to be competitive and to attract consumers to visit them or their online sites, they will have to make the most of what is available.