"Technology leaders such as Amazon, Deliveroo, Netflix, and Uber Technologies have raised customer expectations of speed and convenience. Amazon, through Prime offering, has created a system of same day delivery. Customers can now expect to get a taxi, watch a film, or receive a meal almost instantaneously and to make a choice based on an easy-to-assess interface or app."
Technology leaders such as Amazon, Deliveroo, Netflix, and Uber Technologies have raised customer expectations of speed and convenience. Amazon, through Prime offering, has created a system of same day delivery. Customers can now expect to get a taxi, watch a film, or receive a meal almost instantaneously and to make a choice based on an easy-to-assess interface or app.
However, fashion companies have failed to streamline customer decision process. They often struggle to shop based on their ideas, desires, or inspirations.
Customers inspired by external sources
One reason for fragmentation is change in the way consumers get inspired. A 2017 survey revealed, consumers are more likely to be inspired by external sources such as influencers, friends, and TV than by the brand or retailer. Around 41 per cent respondents relied on influencers and bloggers, compared to 20 per cent who put their faith in store employees.
This increasingly diverse nature of inspiration removes the direct connection between the idea and the item. Instead, consumers should seek the product they are looking for based on best guess of the right brand, description, season, or retailer. The key concern arises when the product is available for purchase before it is identified by the consumer. This frustrates his instant-gratification impulse, eliminating the opportunity to sell the product.
Cumbersome mobile sales process a concern
The average sales-conversion rates on desktop devices are around 3.2 per cent, while its 0.9 per cent on mobile devices. Reason: mobile consumer journey is not yet streamlined or compelling enough to inspire a purchase. Often, products are difficult to view on a small screen, or the checkout process is cumbersome and contains too many steps. In any case, the experience is not as seamless as it needs to be. This is a serious challenge for the fashion industry, especially given the relentless migration from desktop to mobile channels.
Emerging technologies help identify products
Some emerging technologies aid product identification, Social network, 21 Buttons, is designed to increase “shoppability” by enabling influencers to share shopping links to items they wear in posts. WeChat users are linked from blog posts directly to brands’ mini e-commerce sites, allowing them to purchase in one place without leaving the Chinese “mega-app.”
Visual search can be a particularly interesting proposition for the fashion industry in future. For instance, Screenshop enables users to take a screenshot or picture of “tops, skirts, shoes, etc,” and then shop similar items straight from their phones. Israeli company Syte.ai has also developed a visual tool serving some of the big high-street fashion names as clients.
Tools to drive sales
Larger fashion players and retailers are either developing tools in house or partnering with technology companies. ASOS, for example, has developed a Style Match search tool, and the company expects visual search to help drive a sales growth of 30 to 35 percent. eBay has launched an app that allows users to find items based on photos.
Amazon uses artificial intelligence to help people shop. Its Echo Look functionality can learn about an individual’s style and make recommendations based on what it sees. While many players are innovating in this space, no single player has captured mass customer adoption. 2019 will see clear signals of both how these tools will integrate into the day-to-day shopping experience for the average fashion consumer and which ones will succeed.