It’s not headline news that the retail industry has undergone a seismic shift in recent years. Evolving technological trends plus changing consumer preferences have driven brands to adopt e-Commerce, omnichannel and personalization. However, given the saturation of the market, it seems likely that this year brands will start to look beyond the traditional e-shop towards a post-eComm world. What does this new horizon look like? And which technologies will underpin the transformation? In this post, we’ll take a look at the trends that are dominating at the start of 2020.
Sustainable is number 1
2020 seems to be the year when Fashion finally makes progress on its green dream. At the G7 summit in August, Kering leader François-Henri Pinault took up the challenge by French President Emmanuel Macron to reduce his industry’s environmental impact by signing the Fashion Pact. Macron said 150 signatures were added that week, with over a hundred others since then. Brands are making progress with initiatives that are trying to increase consumer “green choices: this year Zara promised to use 100 percent recyclable materials by 2025 and also H&M plans to be using 100 percent of the recycled materials and resources by 2030.
At the Fashion Innovation Week 2020 in Lugano, this year a whole day of the agenda has been dedicated to the Fashion Innovation Award: Sustainability Edition, where young companies will pitch their eco-centric solutions to top brands, with the winners gaining a huge amount of international visibility with leading retailers and investors.
Improved experiential retail
Shoppers are increasingly interested in experiences rather than products. To meet customer demand, brands are using brick-and-mortar stores and pop-ups to give shoppers sensational experiences, unrelated to making a sale, using technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, beacons and improved mobile technologies to create a buzz around their brand. Sephora is one such company that has redesigned its stores to include mobiles apps and activities to entertain its shoppers.
Artificial Intelligence has been harnessed to improve personalization for some time, and now it’s set to really take off. One application of the technology is the chatbot, which is becoming so intelligent consumers are finding it difficult to know whether they are talking to a computer or a human. Smart wardrobes are also making an appearance in technologies such as the Intelistyle app, where users can upload photos from e-shops or their existing wardrobe to then be provided with a range of outfit suggestions.
Clothing subscription services such as Rent The Runway, Girl Meets Dress, WearTheWalk and FrontRow are redefining the traditional retail model. Rather than purchasing, users pay a one-off or monthly amount to rent items of clothing or accessories for a short period. This sharing economy model is particularly appealing to the Instagram generation who want to be seen in the latest trends and sustainability-focused consumers who value access over ownership.
Consumers have always shopped with their emotions, but millennials have taken it to a whole new level. Increased awareness around labels such as sustainable, cruelty-free, vegan, to name but a few, has resulted in brands thinking carefully about what their brand conveys and aligning their external identity to changing world views. However, how these good intentions translate into actual sales is still somewhat unclear.
Though in the early stages of development, voice technology is destined to revolutionize the future of retail. William Tunstall-Pedoe, the inventor of Amazon’s Alexa, predicts that the future will see superhuman sales assistant technology that has a conversation with users, shows them products and answers their questions, taking their personal circumstances into account, to secure a purchase. 2020 will see the development of existing technology to work towards this goal.