SCROBLE LAUNCHES THE WORLD’S FIRST FASHION RETAIL PLATFORM FOR SEAMLESS PHYGITAL USER EXPERIENCE

PRESS RELEASE

SCROBLE launches the world’s first fashion retail platform dedicated to meeting shoppers’ demands, brand marketing and sales strategies anywhere and at any time. SCROBLE launches the onboarding stage of the very first end-to-end platform for the phygital fashion retail journey. The revolutionary tool enables brands to access new, ultimate product performance analytics, create a seamless user experience, and deliver unique marketing, besides enhancing their sales and improving sustainability.

Presentation – SCROBLE 

As part of the retail ecosystem, SCROBLE connects fashion brands with users via its first data-driven shopping mobile application (SCROBLE user app), thereby blurring the current, impermeable boundaries between offline and online shopping with unique features for phygital user experience. It has been created to help brands build and strengthen their relationships with their community, develop brand loyalty, and bring back people to the store. Having first launched its features during the pilot stage in Luxembourg in 2020, SCROBLE’s breakthrough innovations have gained incredible feedback with a 93% of brand satisfaction and resulted in strategic partnerships with Microsoft, the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg and the Ernst & Young Innovation programs.

An end-to-end ecosystem—A direct connection between brands and users, creating a unique “consumer journey” and a real “life path.”

More than ever, brands will get to strengthen ties with their customers through a personalized and engaging loyalty program. The conversation about shoppers needs to be at the heart of marketing strategies; thus, the “no-channel” strategy has emerged as a prominent trend among fashion professionals: here, the client needs to be recognized whatever be the channel they use. Digital information must be available everywhere, at any time. The boundaries of what is possible were disrupted during the lockdown, so retail must step up and evolve.

  • 92% of consumers say they want brands to be engaged and have a strong purpose and a positive impact on society.*
  • 92% of consumers say they are ready to consume more local products.**

These are significant trends that need to be taken into account by the retail industry. *EY Study—“Future Consumer Index 2020” **Zeno Study—“The 2020 Strength of Purpose”

A unique offer for brands with multiple advantages of newly invented phygital retail technology.

The SCROBLE platform is designed to do the following:

  1. INCREASE SALES: SCROBLE offers fashion brands a new communication channel with clients to showcase and sell products by making them digitally accessible anywhere and bringing people back in-store, much needed after the global crisis. The unique “Scan” in-store feature allows the shopper to collect relevant information about the garment, save, like, share it and post about it on the SCROBLE app.
  2. IMPROVE MARKETING & DATA: SCROBLE helping fashion brands track shoppers’ needs, interact with the shoppers by posting branded content, inspirations, or offering limited discounts enabled by SCROBLE app. It will also lead to engaging discussion and dialogue between the brand and its community. Moreover, it improves brand awareness and makes the new in-store interaction data available to businesses. As SCROBLE has been designed to be a helpful and personalized communication and sales tool, social communities, customer experience, and loyalty-building will be at the heart of all marketing strategies.
  3. REDUCE OVERPRODUCTION & UNSOLD STOCK: Fashion brands can test their non-produced collections and future designs by digitizing them on the SCROBLE platform. They can collect feedback from SCROBLE’s community and reduce overproduction in the fashion industry by better determining fashion trends. SCROBLE helps also brands to reduce the unsold stock by connecting the product information to the distribution points and providing this information to users in the SCROBLE app.

ONBOARDING OF BRANDS

By joining the SCROBLE platform, brands can become pioneers in phygital user experience.Early adopters of SCROBLE will herald the adoption of a phygital user experience in fashion. SCROBLE’s app is thought and designed to become a key player in marketing and sales channels for brands. The first selected brands that onboard the platform will enjoy visibility and the advantages of becoming the early adopters that are slated to make the fashion retail sector more sustainable and be a game-changer in the industry.

“Retail needs… a big shake-up and that’s precisely what SCROBLE aims to do for fashion retail.”

“To survive, brands and retailers need to bring together convenience and shopper experience. We need to support our retail businesses and our high streets, not just for the shops, but to help bring our communities together.”

Anna Salewski – Founder and CEO of SCROBLE 

This Press Release was officially published also here.

SCROBLE rend le «phygishopping» à la mode. PAPERJAM

La CEO de Scroble, Anna Salewski, réunira dans son écosystème les deux univers du shopping, celui qui va d’une boutique à une autre, et celui qui va d’un site internet à un autre site internet. Avec les bénéfices de ce mélange inédit pour les amateurs de shopping et les marques qui leur courent derrière.

Anna Salewski a annoncé, ce jeudi, le lancement, en octobre, de Scroble, un écosystème composé d’une première plateforme et d’une app, qui rendent «phygitales» les expériences de shopping numérique et réel. Après le commerce et l’e-commerce, le «phygicommerce» ou «phygishopping».

Faire défiler les cintres. S’arrêter sur un vêtement. Hésiter. Poursuivre sa recherche de la pièce idéale, par sa coupe, sa couleur, sa taille ou son prix. Oublier le vêtement. Y repenser, peut-être, au moment des soldes. Le retrouver. Ou pas.

Tout ce parcours d’achat de vêtements a été revu par Scroble pour permettre au client de scanner une pièce via son smartphone et de le stocker pour plus tard en y ajoutant toutes les informations à un achat potentiel ultérieur.

Ou, inversement, au lieu des grands magasins virtuels bien connus, le client peut chercher le produit dans l’application et se laisser guider vers le magasin réel qui le vend, sans avoir à le commander sur internet. L’application permettra aussi de le combiner avec d’autres vêtements, pour composer une tenue complète ou l’accessoiriser.

L’aide est précieuse pour le consommateur, mais l’aventure de la première plateforme phygitale pour le secteur de l’habillement va plus loin, en permettant aux marques de proposer des produits et de les tester auprès de leurs communautés, parfois même avant de les produire. À quoi bon faire fabriquer des produits qui ne se vendront pas en boutique? Car, aujourd’hui, les marques sont aveugles sur une partie de l’accueil que réservent les clients à leurs produits.

«Ayant lancé ses fonctionnalités pour la première fois lors de la phase pilote au Luxembourg en 2020, les innovations de rupture de Scroble ont obtenu un retour incroyable, avec 93% de satisfaction de la marque, et ont abouti à des partenariats stratégiques avec Microsoft, la Chambre de commerce de Luxembourg et les programmes Ernst & Young Innovation», relève la CEO de la start-up, Anna Salewski, dans un communiqué qui annonce son lancement officiel pour la fin de l’année.

L’application pour les utilisateurs est en mode bêtatest jusqu’à son lancement en fin d’année, et les magasins et marques ont jusqu’au 31 juillet pour s’inscrire et profiter d’avantages, dit le communiqué de presse.

Read the complete article here: https://paperjam.lu/article/scroble-met-phygishopping-a-mo

Fashion Reloaded – Adjusting the Focus within Sustainability with New #DeepData

by Anna Salewski, Founder & CEO at SCROBLE

Part 5

We all know that the fashion industry involves highly sensitive consumer behaviour with a lot of implications, as demonstrated in my previous articles. There are so many consumer journeys shared through different channels, and a lot of aspects influence the decision-making process, including the constantly evolving trends and styles. Running behind this ever-changing game is the reality of the fashion business. Now, the implications of COVID-19 have made the process even more difficult, and brands need to constantly reflect and adjust their offerings to produce products having a chance to be sold.

It is logical to assume that the role of consumer data for building the right perceptions and making predictions is quintessential for any brand. In my article on data, I stated that there is not enough special data available on the fashion industry from both offline and online sources. There is also the presented problem of brands’ accessibility to the existing data. Also, the process of transforming the existing raw data into valuable analytics is an expensive one, making it inaccessible to small- and mid-size brands that lack the relevant technologies and the know-how.

In this article, I would like to focus on the costs that the fashion industry and, in fact, all of us pay for wrong predictions resulting from the outlined factors. I would like to estimate the quantitative role of data in influencing overproduction. I also intend to compare the existing sustainable concepts and their overall capacity to influence sustainability in fashion. Is any other sustainable initiative able to change a significant part of fashion for the better? The huge need for change in fashion has been long debated, but what really needs to be changed to make our industry more sustainable? Is it circularity? Is it sustainable production? Or do we need to bring digital fashion into the context of user expression to reduce real consumption? What will we achieve if we do all that to a 100% capacity? Do you think fashion would be sustainable then? What would be the outcome of such change? Is it naive to believe that we can ever achieve it? Further, what else can we do to speed up the overall change? The well known, still shocking fact upfront: fashion was and still is responsible for 10% of all CO2 emissions without any evidence of this amount being lowered. It makes fashion one of the most polluting industries in the world.

I would like to start by clarifying exactly which business model is responsible for this overall situation. Many would expect “fast fashion” to be the answer here—I have a different opinion—and it is the problem of entire pre-produced fashion in which we can find examples for overproduction at any brand’s level, from small to big, from affordable to luxury. All pre-producing brands are involved here. Therefore, I prefer to address and refer to this widely used and global business model where fashion products are produced in advance for future sales. Indeed, with an estimated amount of 100 billion items— according to Vogue Business—we can attribute 95% of all fashion to this particular business model of advanced production.

Here is an overview of how the system works: All brands having the same structure of processes follow three stages (the speed, however, among the processes and the frequency of cycles may vary significantly). At the very beginning of the fashion value chain, there is a decision taken regarding what needs to be produced and where it needs to be distributed. Let’s call it the pre-production stage.

The next stages would be the production and the third one the sales process. Generally, the term sustainability can be found within all three stages but with quite different concepts and approaches. Let’s start with circularity. Circularity within this existing and widely used business model of a pre-produced fashion is a part of the after-sales product lifecycle. That means, that the core circular part begins when the garment is sold to a consumer. We need to distinguish this circularity from other business models, such as on-demand production. In the world of produced fashion, circularity happens only if and when the garment is sold. The question is, which part of the total amount of garments produced is getting sold to a final consumer?

According to the Australian Circular Textile Association (ACTA), the excess inventory is estimated at €210 billion each year which is about 30% of the overall global production. McKinsey reported this year that the value of excess inventory from the spring/summer 2020 collections alone is estimated (can be much higher, in fact) at €140 billion to €160 billion worldwide. This catapults the amount of excess inventory to almost 50%. We’re talking about over 30% of the unsold fashion products that are going regularly into the land fields, which is a “normal” situation for the fashion industry even without a crisis like we have now—this can go up to 50% in exceptional crisis situations like COVID-19. Knowing that fashion produces over 10% of the world’s CO2 emission would mean that 30–50% of the production is just to fill the garbage! Wonderful.

Consequently—and going back to the point of circularity within the existing business model—only 50 to 70% of all produced fashion products are getting in hands of buyers and can potentially come into the circular traction model. I found it really interesting to read the circular fashion report 2020 made by Circular Fashion Summit in partnership with PWC.

It was very clearly stated that there is no certainty about what circular economy really is—every expert has their own opinion about the topic. Not even industry leaders are able to clearly understand and articulate all these terms with a single voice and bring them into the structure of existing processes. Therefore, I am feeling confident with expressing my thoughts willing to apply here my way of thinking and logic, use the existing facts to understand everything I have learned by diving into the literature and combining information in my way.

Going further and taking into account the business model of pre-produced fashion, the circular economy is about different, specific concepts and ideas which are, ultimately, happening after the sales process. Some are connected to the traction of the product information, its resale, second-hand renting, and even renewing, reshaping – many concepts using new technologies, peer-to-peer connection or blockchain. From the number of clothes that can circulate, with a prolonged life cycle and trackable future usage, we need to deduct the garments that are being wrongly washed or damaged sooner than expected because of their low quality; these garments would not be part of the circular economy either. No concrete figures exist about how many clothes, that are bought by consumers are being processed through the circular economy afterwards, but it is certain that, for the moment, we cannot talk about more than 5–10%; this is an overoptimistic range and would make up about 3–5% of the overall produced fashion. There are amazing ventures in this field that involves business ideas and technologies allowing the prolongation of the life cycle of a garment.

All these processes of a circular model strongly depend on the digital capabilities of different products to establish peer-to-peer connections and build digital environments enabling users to find and utilize this idea in the most efficient way. We need to bear in mind that the time consumed by less efficient solutions will always prevent them from scaling and making progress in circularity. Technology is crucial for finding a novel way to connect similar minded people and enabling communications and circular interactions.

Now, let’s come back to the current business model in fashion. If we say that circularity can happen only after the sale, then what is the role of this sustainable concept in the production cycle? Simply put, we have sustainability in producing a particular item, considering the quality of garments, working conditions, remuneration of workers, chemical substances used to produce clothes, and the different materials and fabrics, some of which can be, for instance, degradable and compostable. These and many other concepts are all the factors influencing sustainability while producing fashion. According to the Business Research Company, the value of the global ethical fashion market size riches almost $6,35 billion in 2019 and was predicted to grow up to $8,25 billion by 2023. Considering the entire volume of the fashion market with $1.8 trillion – the overall amounts of ethically and sustainably produced fashion remaining very little. Of course, thinking rationally and economically in producing more expensive garments would cost fashion brands more, and they already have more than enough troubles at the moment to figure out how to settle the dust with the overall situation and changes around COVID19.

And still – being produced sustainably, there is no guarantee for a garment to be sold to a final consumer. So, there is still an open question to answer, that I have raised in my previous articles: Can we consider sustainably produced but unsold garments sustainable? I am not sure; in my personal opinion, such products have a lower environmental impact but do not completely fulfil the purpose of sustainability. By increasing costs for sustainable production, it is a big question of economic rationale (where up to 50% of products are not getting sold) and one of the main reasons, in my view, for the slow speed of change towards sustainability in fashion.

Now, we are coming to the last part of sustainability within the widely used fashion business model mentioned in the beginning. This part, actually, comes first in the value chain; decisions are taken on what will be produced and where it will be distributed. The decisions taken here, including the distribution politics, are tremendously influencing sustainability in fashion, more so, than any other decisions taken in the production cycle or circular economy. But how are these decisions made, and why is there still so much overproduction? How is data influencing these processes, and why? Again, how is it possible that we have so much data but there is still limited improvement toward reducing the unsold stock? How can we fill the data gap and make it more accessible and affordable? Why do we still need to produce four t-shirts to sell two? I have already published an article with the very clear conclusion that, despite its overall availability, we don’t have enough relevant data in fashion due to many factors—this is a result of both the technological inability to capture the user journey at every step of the purchase and deliver this data to brands as well as the absence of data from offline retail (where most of the sales still happen). Another burden of accessibility of online data is the presence of diversified distribution strategies with varied online sales channels. The new e-commerce distribution channels are increasing sales and are executing their own power by leveraging customer connection and technology to gain unique data from the source under the surface.

Even if brands were able to access all the existing data, would this really help fashion? What data is actually needed? How should we get it and make it directly accessible to brands to influence sustainability more efficiently within the existing business model?

I am sure that we can significantly reduce the level of dead stock at this stage by predicting the demand and building trends that correspond to the needs and desires of the consumers. For the moment, sustainability within the existing business model doesn’t yield fruit quickly and there is no real evidence of achieving sustainable goals within the industry according to the very recent report from BoF. There should be a way for every brand to reach the sale target without producing excess inventory. At least, this should be considered as the most important sustainable goal to achieve, which is also the greatest challenge according to the BoF report mentioned previously. Do we need to change the entire business model to make it possible? If yes, would it be realistic? I don’t think that the fashion business model can be changed so quickly. But I truly believe that we can make powerful adjustments to the existing model to allow businesses to improve at a faster pace.

One of the most important things to be achieved here is to let brands get precise and relevant data through direct access, thereby obtaining all the required details to improve the processes. In my view, this data must reflect the concrete interactions between products and users, giving the users the space to express themselves through a product and interact with it as a digital asset that can conduct different user journeys. There should also be sufficient space to understand the multiple decisions made by a consumer during the discovery and purchase process.

This is also about answering the question: why somebody who was initially interested in a product did not purchase it? This is a great source of information and data to improve fashion brands’ understanding of consumer behaviour. It is not only about delivering the knowledge of who was purchasing a product but also about the concrete decision-making process and the many aspects involved, such as interruptions in a sale driving the customer away from a purchase despite having an initial interest. Segmenting and capturing consumer behaviours is crucial, and product-related data about user journeys through a direct-to-customer approach would be a game-changer; this format should also be available directly to brands in a live-time sequence so that they understand the consumer behaviours and current trends by connecting this data to the production forecasts. Capturing this data should also be an integrated part of the retailing process both online and in stores. Also, there must be room for digital product distribution and peer-to-peer communication so that community effects can be observed and included in the analytics. This is, however, compared to the existing data, an absolutely different dimension of analytics.

To successfully do this, we would need to satisfy several inter-dependent factors, starting with technology that will enable the digital capturing of all processes related to the product–user interactions with the possibility of observing the data in-store as well; further, it would require an instant understanding, agreement, and consent from consumers to provide such systematic feedback. With all the bad reputation around the word “data,” I see it as a challenge to let users consent to and willingly participate in co-creating such data and information. This should be the ultimate goal. And who should finance it? This is an additional work that relies on technology to explain the importance of and involve users in such processes. It should be constructed in a transparent way and with an understanding of what exactly needs to be collected—i.e., less personalized (facial recognition, emotional reactions etc) and more consumer-related product interaction data.

The ultimate goal of sustainability in fashion should be the reduction or even complete elimination of unnecessary production and excess inventory next to the improvement of production and circular usage.

As a matter of fact, this will influence sustainability in a fashion faster and easier than any other existing initiative. Considering the outcome of sustainable production and circular economy together, both would need to grow to 90% for all sold garments in order to bet this outcome. However, it is quite unrealistic to believe in and almost impossible to achieve on the scale, especially with the current state of technological development and a high diversification in fashion. This is also why there is still no objective positive change in reducing the CO2 emissions despite all the available products and suggested sustainable concepts. I wonder when we will apply real calculations and the right sense of logic and attributing facts to the real sources of problems instead of drawing unrealistic expectations with terms such as sustainability and circularity, but without having a global overview and true positioning of these solutions based on their calculated impact within the overall system.

Admittedly, for the moment, it is not even possible to attribute new consumer data concepts to sustainable ones, which makes me think in the context of what been said previously about the “very deep waters” we are all in concerning the actual influencing factors of sustainability in fashion, but also how the entire concept of sustainability is constructed. With all the sustainable goals, but without a way on how to reshape the industry considering also the economic rationale, there is a big uncertainty in achieving them. In my view, we have a wrong focus within the industry on what can make this change possible and we need new creative and disruptive approaches. I see a pressing need to go beyond the usual concepts and also experiment with new global concepts and technologies, but also to involve the out-of-the-box thinkers and consumers to validate and implement the needed effective solution on a scale.

First published on www.SCROBLE.com

Photos by John Towner

SCROBLE STARTS WITH THE PILOTING STAGE ⚡️

We know, @SCROBLE is ahead the time. For some. ⁠For us and for all who already discovered and joined us, we are right in time💫⁠We are also right in time for all those who need a new perspective and future for their stores and want to be part of the bigger #change⁠ in #fashion and it’s #retail.⁠⁠☝️ For the first time ever and anywhere on this globe, an independent #technology building the bridge between #online and #offline shopping for all parties – brands, stores, and users -and offering solutions and the advantages of both spaces on the fingertips.⁠⁠We are so proud to officially announce the beginning of the #piloting stage which will start on the 19th of August. ⁠This stage includes the releases of both beta versions of the SCROBLE app on Android and Apple platforms 📲🧥⁠⁠👩‍💻 200 test users, 17 brands, and 10 retail points are going to be involved in the unprecedented testing in #Luxembourg which will last until the end of September. ⁠⁠Time changes so many areas of our life 🕰️⁠#SCROBLE set the goal to transform retail as we know it: working together for collective #solutions through technology.⁠

Saving Retail And The New App Revolutionising In-Store Data To Do So. FORBES.

We are so thrilled and proud to be featured on Forbes with SCROBLE and our unprecedented piloting stage in Luxembourg! We want to Thank Victoria Collins for the opportunity to talk about our unique saas retail innovation, closing the gap between online & offline shopping in a new user-centric way and the overall high need for a breakthrough #innovation for #fashion!


Read the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/…/saving-retail-and-the-new…/…

Opening The Unknown Door to the Future of Fashion

by Anna Salewski, Founder & CEO at SCROBLE

Part 4

This article, a continued explanation on how and why the current fashion business model is going to fail was ready by 15 March. In my mind, I was playing scenarios with many different aspects (partly described in my previous articles), but in light of the current happenings related to COVID-19, some of these scenarios have turned into reality. In between and during those three months there were many radical things happening in fashion. As mentioned by Harvard Business Review, the pandemic is rewriting the rules of retail.


Innovation in retail — particularly in fashion retail — is quite a challenge, isn’t it? Steps taken towards digitalisation of brick-and-mortar have been hesitant and have not become mainstream, as mentioned in previous articles. Here, I finally want to explore what exactly could unable fashion industry to scale to the next level and fully catch up with technology and the Internet of Things, like so many other fields in our everyday lives.


As it was mentioned in the recent BOF COVID-19 special edition, fashion is under high pressure to reinvent itself, but that was true even before these difficult times. But why is it that fashion makes a case on its own? Standing tall among the creative industries, fashion stands for pluralism and extreme variety. Different brands have distinct strategies and approaches, strategies that target customer groups whom we know little about (see my article: “Diving into the Absence of Data in Fashion”). This creates an ever-complex situation, wherein markets with undefined geographies are merged with customer behaviours, needs and demands. On the other hand, despite the differentiation of the users, we are all united by our need to shop efficiently. By that, I mean the need to have quick access to the products we are looking for, have a seamless and optimised shopping experience and ultimately being able to “keep the world of fashion in our pockets”. This is the fundamental difference and mismatch between the party’s needs and demands.
Due to the absence of magical synching technology, brands are competing with each other by producing more and cutting costs. They are striving for higher profit margins and attracting new customers at multiple distribution channels via different retail channels (at least for a bigger part of all brands). Strangely enough, brands are still trying to improve profitability by producing more being responsible for the 10% of the world’s carbon emissions as mentioned by UN, when they could identify and target customers with a high potential to convert instead, or produce an optimised collection according to a high-quality trend prediction and then give them exactly what they want. 
Additional data would give a helping hand in this instance, as the strategy of overproduction is clearly obsolete and costs more than it brings in. And yes, we do allude to costs tied to reputational risks that could, for instance, come from accumulating or destroying unsold stock — especially in the era of corporate social responsibility. So, the obvious solution would be to collect more data in order to get a better grasp of customer needs. Wouldn’t a systematic collection of data on consumer behaviour help? It certainly would solve part of the problem, as I had concluded in the previous article. Unfortunately, the most useful kind of data, those from brick-and-mortar footfall remains unavailable due to low digitalisation. Also, the context of data and its unified format is another aspect we need to consider while talking about data in and for fashion. A good example is the existing data collected online. Brands find it hard to exercise full power on it due to distributional shifting used by omnichannel solutions. The bitter truth is that brands are losing a big part of data once they affiliate themselves with e-giants. Due to the involvement of omnichannel e-distribution, brands’ data integrity and full control over data pays a high price. 
A s a consequence, brands risk having a rather fuzzy understanding when it comes to consumer needs even for a trend prediction. This means they urgently need to improve and expand their access (see ownership) to data in the future without ultimately relying on sales and distribution channels. Reliable data is clearly an asset at the service of brands — it allows brands to make correct predictions and can directly reduce the overproduction.
But data cannot solve it all. There is a multitude of customer needs waiting to be realised, such as the user-friendly and seamless connection between online and offline retail, direct multi-brand experience, omnichannel curation and digital accessibility of products anywhere, at any time. This is just wishful thinking for the time being, as we only have the choice between multi-brand online platforms or shop-in-shop stores or own-brand shops with an online presence. From a user perspective, the product discovery is pretty tough, as they need to choose the distribution channel first and hope to find what is needed via the chosen channel.
But where is the Plan B, if data, even if collected in the needed way can solve only a part of the problem? I believe data should become a part of a new and truly democratised product discovery with a synchronised availability check and digital product accessibility. What is this, you’re probably asking yourself right now. To understand this better, we need to have a look at the current situation in fashion retail –a distribution-channel-centric system which is competing for customers, very often failing to attract enough into the sales funnel (both online and offline) to sell out the stock, without making it easy for customers to find what they are looking for. This is about a chain of processes where retailers taking over a huge part of the marketing and customer connection in order to promote the store willing to create sales.
How can brands optimise stakeholder performance and profitability within this distribution-channel-centric system? Difficult. Considering the times of growing consumer demands? Very difficult. And to be honest, at a certain level, considering such situations when some distribution channels are affected as in a situation of a lockdown, could become even impossible. We end-up again in the never-ending dilemma between online and offline retail and oversee a highest-ever demand for offline retail to be fully digitised and connected. My vision for the future of fashion includes not only closing the gap between online and offline retail, but also rethinking this distribution-centric strategy and opening up to a new consumer-centric strategy in fashion retail. This has nothing to do with installing more user apps ( one for each brand), or corresponding to the needs of a niche group of customers, or just a marketing purpose, or even covering some nice features and ideas with coding.
To make clear on what consumer-centric strategy is, we just need to see what customers want. And this is to be able to make the truly democratised product discovery as a first step in a shopping journey, where no one is forced to make a decision about the place-to-buy in advance. This is to feel at ease when browsing through fashion products of different fashion brands, have guidance in product search and being directly connected to the brand and its products as a unified digital asset with a link to a most convenient place of purchase. This would be a concept of a fully connected, unified and completely digitized retail based on an ultimate user-centricity.

And to make this happen, we need to shift our perspective to the complete product catalogue digitisation in a unified format. In order to centralise this information, the fashion industry would need a synchronised information pool grouping all brands, who would act as owners of information, a pool aiming to connect users with the information/fashion item they are looking for. What would be the end-goal of this centralised information pool, which is also open for use to other distribution channels, such as retail shops? Sales. But effective, targeted, direct and data-driven sales. Sales with no or very reduced overproduction and ultimate D2C (direct to customer) connection. 
Needless to say, that would take more than collaboration: it would mean the end of politics between brands in regard to the product data format and the creation of standardised garment information and interaction technology used as an omichannel and multi-brand consumer focused channel. An example for a data unification could be the unified IBAN account number at the bank within the EU. But how do we do this in fashion? For the moment we are attempting to work with GS1 IoT data unification which is making identification and verification possible, but does not reflect the core primary and essential needs of the fashion industry (my opinion). We would need much more to reshape the entire system, as well as to improve the interaction between brands and their existing or potential consumers through the newly standardised digital fashion product interaction within both online and brick-and-mortar retail.


This disruptive and ultimate digitalisation of the fashion industry and the reshaping of the existing business model could be potent enough to fulfil the dream of all parties involved – businesses and retailers while meeting the needs of customers. Here, I would like to conclude with my personal vision and a kind “to-do-plan” on how we can achieve this — part of my guiding principles applied to the radical solution that SCROBLE is.


1. CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN ONLINE & OFFLINE RETAILThe technology would act as a merger of both online and offline environments in the ultimate customer-centric way. The application of VR to simulate real stores is a great tool, but not enough. Customer-centrism is about transforming the classical retail experience to a place of digital user-product interaction and taking it to the next level of functionality by entering the mobile user experience within offline retail in order to satisfy customer digital needs within the offline environment. This is the way to reduce customer contact in the store.
2. INTRODUCING A NON-RETAILING TECHNOLOGY FOR FASHIONThe technology should take a purely technological position between the parties (data unification and connection), connecting the dots and enabling unprecedented product discovery and highly effective search including availability checks. The fully connected retail would let stores remain operating even in case of a lockdown.
3. ENABLING PRODUCT ACCESSIBILITY ANYWHERE, ANYTIMEThe new technology would digitally unify fashion products, going beyond the product identification and making them easily accessible, eliminating hurdles of time, variety and place — enabling consumers to find garments anywhere, anytime. It becomes possible through the digital rendering process within both — brick-and-mortar and the online spaces.
4. RESHAPING THE ROLE OF THE PHYSICAL PRESENCE IN RETAILWe know that online shopping is faster and more convenient when it comes to ordering items or accessing garments; however, it cannot replace the physical experience of product discovery which is, on the other hand, very often extremely inefficient. The new technology is a part of the physical retail of the future and should enable retailers to profit not only from direct sales but also from a mobile product-user interaction. The said technology would guarantee the traction of value creation between customers and physical items, providing customers with complete and relevant information. Retailers would be freed from the fear of customers entering the shop and then leaving without making a purchase. Eventually, the store would profit from any future purchase of products first discovered in the store. The brick-and-mortar should be a starting point for the customer journey where all human senses can be satisfied and sales would be seen as an additional service and product discovery can happen only with a mobile phone. The new technology could also track and reward the retailer for any value multiplication that takes place after the customer has left the shop, but was incited at the store.
5. SHIFTING THE MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONThe new technology enables a direct connection between the binary users-brands and users-retailers, shifting the power of marketing and PR to fashion brands, but enabling stronger sales functionalities to retailers with plugged-in life-time availability approval.
6. DEMOCRATISING & UNIFYING THE PRODUCT DISCOVERYThis technology would be a “brand-and-retailer-neutral” space for customers to start a fashion journey, letting them deal with fashion primarily as a semi-gameable and semi-shoppable content. It would be a place of creativity and exchange, allowing users to create multi- and cross-brand content within the fashion community and democratise access to all the distribution channels.
7. EMPOWERING BRAND’S PERFORMANCE WITH QUALITY CONSOLIDATED DATACreating, collecting and analysing new data chains would drive the efficiency of the planning, production and logistics. Helping brands produce less or, dare I say, zero unneeded items is the ultimate goal. It would be able to solve challenges on both sides and deliver a true win-win solution that is needed for a smart, environmentally conscious future.


It is clear, there is a pressing need to rethink and rebuild the entire process and set ourselves free from the belief that existing structures are the future. In my point of view, a new generation of innovation in retail means change, and the discussion has been going on without concrete results for a while. Speeding up/tweaking the existing processes, i.e. fast check out, variety of payment methods, VR-powered tools for visualisation or search optimisation cannot take us so far that we can solve all current and future needs and demands. Despite the undeniable value of such solutions, it is the creation of new processes that can drive the fashion industry forward and bring about the reincarnation of the fashion retail and restore its leading place in retail business — leading us finally to a “Fashion in Technology”.


Such a big step forward requires a critical mass of fashion leaders, pioneers, visionaries and innovators willing to collaborate in order to take the industry to the next level of functionality and offer customers unprecedented user experience. Will they unite to make this change possible and start the biggest change in fashion? That remains to be seen, but at least, I can promise you this: we are opening this door by putting a new business model and a new tech solution in place in order to make this first step toward a New Shopping Reality and Sustainable Future for Fashion.


Photos by Ross Findon Luca Bravo

 

Diving Into the Absence of Relevant Data in Fashion.

by Anna Salewski, Founder & CEO at SCROBLE

Part 3 What does data have to do with fashion? Does fashion generally need data if it is mostly about converting the designer’s visions into wearable clothes? In my previous articles, I concluded that the sweeping transformation of consumer expectations and behaviour towards clothes has increased consumers’ expectations of fashion brands. And since modern fashion is pre-produced for future consumption, there should be an urgent need to understand customers’ wishes and desires in advance to satisfy them with appropriate collections to reduce unsold stock.
Innovation and digitalisation providing few tools to help brands understand customers’ needs nowadays. Despite radical digitalisation and innovation being essential for the consumer, brands and retailers who want to implement such advances experience many difficulties. Notwithstanding that we frequently associate innovation in fashion only with e-commerce, AR/VR enabled technologies and textile innovation, in this series of articles, I focus on existing inconvenience and limitations in physical (offline) shopping. I also try to find systematic outcomes of this existing disconnection between online and offline retail and figure out how we may finally improve the status quo as well as hypothesize the exact outcome of such a change.
I would also like to draw the line between data necessary to create and produce collections and data for finding and targeting customers to create (more) sales. In my opinion, the digitalisation of offline retail has great potential to reshape the fashion industry; in this article, I would like to focus more on the role of data for creating collections and understanding customer wishes and expectations in this regard. I aim to closely examine the particular data that could help solve the problems many fashion brands experience with building right perceptions and predictions and enable better planning and later performance. Which specific data would make the most sense in propelling efficiency in all fashion processes? Can we influence sustainability with data? If yes, which data could we use? From where and how do we obtain it?Fashion is and has always been about the plurality of designers’ voices and consumer tastes. Wishes and needs are greatly dependent on geographies, age groups, body shapes and other variables — probably more than, let’s say, the food industry. There are more steps involved in decision-making (observing the fashion trends, finding the best deal and the best fitting garment and others), where tendencies and styles are constantly changing. Because of this plurality of single separated and segmented processes, the role of data for fashion brands should be quintessential, especially for analysis of customer behaviour and the ability to make the right predictions and perceptions. Still, the fundamental implications of big data and the solutions it offers in fashion have been overlooked, precisely due to the complexity of the fashion business and challenges in implementation. Let’s focus more on this point below.

Which data would help fashion brands to comply with customers’ expectations and personalisation and help create garment collections more likely to be sold out?

As I already mentioned in my previous article, I truly believe that every unsold garment is unsustainable per se, no matter how sustainably it was produced or delivered. We can attribute a large part of sustainability problems in fashion to the inability to properly predict what will be consumed and where. In this regard, I think about the relevance of several groups of factors and information which, in my opinion, would be extremely important for fashion brands in order to improve the creation of the collection as well as to gain a strategic understanding of the distributional and personalisation aspects:1. “Product — customer” — relationship data. This concerns why, where and who liked, followed and finally purchased my garment. What is the origin of the interest? Was it spontaneous? Was the customer influenced? If yes, by whom?2. “Product purchase” — decision data. How and why did someone decide to purchase my garments? What was the path and what influenced this decision? Was it price or willingness to purchase a certain article from my brand that tilted the scale?3. “Customer as consumer KYC”. This group of data segments and analyses the consumer of my brand more thoroughly. What are those social, demographic and behavioural patterns leading to my particular brand?
I know it may sound quite far from the existing reality, but I am sure that technological solutions are required to enable this initial and essential product related traction in fashion. Essentially, it concerns the connection between fashion brands and fashion lovers. I am also sure that we need to create a way to receive this information and data in full compliance with personal data protection policies such as GDPR. I also believe that this data needs to be made available to fashion brands.

Which data do we have now? The influence of unproportionally divided consumption in fashion and existing business models.

Due to the complexity of the industry’s distribution channels, and even more due to the absence of suitable technological solutions, it is still almost impossible to capture offline consumer data (which constitutes 80% of total fashion consumption) properly within current forecasting data, thus making it impossible to cater to customers accordingly. Anonymous shopping in city retail is still the norm and widely presented (unless we use loyalty or membership cards). Even when cards are used, what can this information really tell us regarding the points described above? In reality, only small percentage of physical retail purchases are tracked as a simple “events of a sale attributed to an identified client” via client relationship management systems.
Technology has been trying to address the issue outlined above with sophisticated solutions, including AI-equipped cameras able to identify consumers’ facial reactions when looking at a certain garment or categorize consumers depending on their shoes and allocating them a certain style preference and customer personal group to extract valuable data from. Some stores utilising AI assistants with face recognition offer personalised suggestions to known customers based on previous purchases. Other proposed methods to capture data about repeated consumption is by tracking purchasing events through credit card transactions in offline retail. Retailers especially try to attract customers by using location technologies that can show how you and your phone move through the world. Other sources, mostly used by retailers, include social media sites or buying data from ad tech companies.
Even if these solutions may sound interesting, the first critical point is data reliability — facial reactions and shoe choice cannot guarantee a bulletproof result, because these factors can be contradictory or depend on a momentary whim or passing mood, and do not necessarily reflect the style and habits of the observed consumer. They are temporary expressions rather than constantly applicable data attributes. This highly sensitive and very personal data and the ways of collecting it are still widely discussed in the EU. Another point is the data attribution — in my opinion, in my opinion, the extracted information still cannot be interpreted properly, as it is just a small part in the chain of relevant bahaivioral patterns and attributions out of the whole context of interacting with fashion. The existence of these solutions merely, unwillingly, divulges the pressing need for offline consumer data.
Due to irregular patterns of fashion consumption and the absence of clear and unified technological instruments for data collection and capturing offline retail clients, there is a wide limitation in relevant data availability. For fashion brands, there is almost no other way than to apply available online data to the offline world and rely on completed sales data by making new predictions for upcoming collections. Narrowing down the quality of existing data from offline retail available directly to brands, the bitter truth is that more than 90% (my own estimation) of existing data related to customers in physical retail is not useful because of the described quality of information. To explain: First, the traction of offline data is quite limited, as already shown. The small part available contains less relevant information solely related to the specific purchase event or customer behaivior in the store, without focussing on diversified user patterns and nomadic consumer behaviour. But the circulation of behavioural patterns is, in fact, much greater than what is made available by tracking only the single purchase in the store. It is possible to collect and attribute this data online, at least theoretically and when all transactions occur on one e-commerce platform. Another question here would be how can brands access this data? Let’s see more about this later.
But what about consumers leaving stores empty-handed — no one knows why people enter stores and fail to purchase anything. What about that data? In fact, only one out of five customers make a purchase when they visit a store; according to the latest statistics, about 96% of consumers leave stores empty-handed. That means that we (maybe) have a small part of relevant data about one customer who has made a purchase (see above), but nothing about the four others who left the store empty-handed. To conclude, I would estimate that about 99% of relevant data is in fact not available and accessible to anyone in fashion retail.
Suppose we could capture data about everyone who stepped in, left a shop and later made a purchase? What about this gap? It is far more relevant to analyse why a customer was initially interested in a particular product or brand but didn’t end up buying it or the expectations in place while entering a store and what factors were considered during the decision-making process. What if we were able to extract this data in real time and use it to solve the issue through a limited and complicated product search and help customers find what they were looking for?
In fact, and as demonstrated by McKinsey, behavioural patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable ; people can be influenced by a brand online, but end up purchasing something similar offline or vice versa — they look for something offline and end up making a purchase online because of the variety of offers.Connecting online and offline retail data regarding product–customer behaviour appears to be essential for quality data assessment.

How do brands nowadays obtain data? What is available and how is it used?

There is, as stated above, almost no or no quality offline retail data available directly to brands. The only available and reliable data is still derived from observation of consumer behaviour/purchases/consumed ads online. However, it also bears certain difficulties in interpretation: first, because of online retail diversification and data availability to the brands (because of the plethora of online shops) and second, because of data quality — it is difficult to attribute existing information to customer behavioural patterns or tangible garments.
Fashion brands that produce collections, distribute them and trying to maintain contact with clients rely, of course (depending on a distribution strategy), on many sales channels. There is a lot of literature about challenges for brands to remain profitable and go online, especially through one of the widely used e-omnichannel solutions. By doing so, brands use new e-commerce distribution channels to increase their sales. However, these e-commerce platforms execute their own power by leveraging this customer contact and technology to gain unique data from the source. It is not a secret that one of the biggest values of all e-giants is the amount of data they hold about their customers and product consumption. This also creates a great dilemma regarding gaining and using data in order to build predictions and perceptions, which are important for fashion brands. Applying some mathematics, we reduce again the amount of data available directly to brands, which they would need to make educated decisions for future collections.
The directly available data is later fed into algorithms, which offer the brand some background information. However, again, the type of information available is highly relevant. Data from e-stores of fashion brands capture very limited information regarding customer behaviour, as it is restricted to their own collection within their own store, whereby broader data available to e-multibrand giants is unavailable directly to brands. What a dilemma!
As a logical consequence, fashion brands often use third-party data providers which help them extract relevant data from different sources using AI, image recognition and application of necessary algorithms to develop conclusions regarding upcoming trends and gather observations about competitors. Some fashion brands employ data scientists to obtain relevant data. The giants, such as Nike, even purchase data companies to enforce their understanding of their customers.
However, even having the best data scientists and algorithms will not solve the problem of non-existent offline retail data and its partial inaccessibility (online commerce). There is a tremendous gap in data availability and accessibility which technology can and must fill. Brands should have an immediate better understanding of and direct connection to customers. The ideal would be to empower this connection with different tech features to create a 360° overview of behavioural patterns in fashion.

Is the absence of smart data connected to fashion challenges?

After discussing the various ways in which a customer interacts with fashion, the answer would be, yes, the absence of smart data is partially connected to fashion challenges and plays an active role in maintaining the fashion system’s current position. This absence directly affects production, distribution and logistics decisions, which are connected at the backend to overproduction and unsold stock. None of these factors can be overlooked, as they directly impact profitability and even brand reputation. With the right data at hand, brands can produce what is more likely to be consumed and reduce their dead stock and environmental footprint, thus improving sustainability and profitability. By producing, delivering and selling smarter, brands can automatically increase sustainability.Specific data would allow fashion’s environmental footprint to be further reduced, whilst also allowing for increased profits. Data could even indicate where a brand needs to deliver its products i.e. to the location most favourable for specific products; there would be no need for pointless and costly logistics and reverse-logistics. The role of unique and complete data chains (including consumer patterns and the relation to products) is crucial, especially in these current and upcoming challenging times, when only efficiency will decide who will be successful.
However, my personal conclusion is that existing business models in fashion will ever prevent brands to gain a big part of reliable and relevant product related consumer behaivior data. Notwithstanding the fact that we are swimming in the ocean of the personal data, there is a fundumental difficulty to access and to convert it into valuable analytics for fashion brands.

Is it all only about data?

Nobody wants to promise that data will solve every single fashion challenge. Data collection itself depends on technology and applied business methods and models. However, I wish to open a conversation about the topic. Fashion is a highly consumer behaviour-related industry and must have a way to gain data with respect to consumers’ privacy. Data accessibility will always depend on a business model and tool connecting fashion brands with customers and on whether there is a retailing third party involved. We would need a very smart unified technological solution that can synchronise the entire data circulation to capture different behavioural patterns at different levels of the consumer journey and deliver them directly to a fashion brand. Moreover, this solution must be able to provide the same data and customer connection for offline retail.
Even if every single brand decided to overcome its difficulties and systematically digitalize its inventory and processes, it would not provide the desired customer connection or provide the relevant volume of diversified data to make exact perceptions and predictions about consumer behaviour and upcoming trends. However, whether it’s about creating a collection, rethinking strategy or customer experience solutions — all these activities need to be based on more concrete, relevant and reliable data. This will decide everything, at least in the near future.


So, is it possible to develop something fundamentally disruptive, a product that addresses and solves the multiple needs and demands also in relation to accessing reliable data for fashion? 
Photos by Markus Spiske

Chasing Fashion Consumer Needs: Digitalising Old Concepts

By Anna Salewski, Founder & CEO at SCROBLE

Part 2

The ever-increasing demands of contemporary consumers are far more than challenging. It is indispensable for fashion brands and retailers to keep up with the latest and create new concepts to remain profitable. While some are addressed by start-ups and innovators, other consumer wishes still await materialisation;   especially when it comes to offline shopping. However, it remains crucial for brands and retailers to catch up with them and enable digitalisation to fulfil consumers’ dreams.The concept of physical stores will not cease to exist anytime soon, but it will become much more sophisticated. How else can it be convincing to a demanding customer? But digitalisation in fashion seems to be a slow and complicated process. In this paper, we take a closer look at issues preventing the fashion industry, especially offline retail, from innovating and try to figure out some ways to address them.

Digitalisation: New area for fashion business

It requires a specialist to gauge needs and define which type of innovation fashion really needs. A brand’s core business is to design and produce beautiful garments and not to dive into digitalisation per se. Another factor also affects the pace of digitalisation in fashion – one that touches upon the variety of brand profiles and their strategies. Influenced by culture and history, brands are often symbols of status quo or carry other aspirational messages. Each brand has its own unique way of communicating with its customers. Just like in any other industry, fashion brands need to compete based on their differentiated products and message to connect with their customers. This continues with digital concepts. However, the same does not apply to customers. They prefer a unified approach and enjoy experimenting with X or Z brand, while keeping everything in one place – their wardrobe. There is a certain conflict between the goals and strategies of users and fashion brands that makes digitalisation for users’ convenience even harder. Thus, it appears extremely difficult to find a way to satisfy consumers’ fashion needs. Digitalisation in fashion is the key, but fashion brands are confronted with this complex situation. As result, conglomerates with the right budget are experimenting with digital solutions. However, what we see are mostly apps that are nice to have, entertaining and amusing, but veer towards gamification of fashion and branding of a particular fashion label rather than confronting existing consumer problems. Smaller brands with limited budgets need to study in-depth and understand the alternative they choose before working on a digital solution. However, defining what makes sense is difficult.

Customer Wishes within the Existing Business Model in Fashion

As described by BOF, existing business model shapes and influences many processes within the fashion retail. I will look closer only at a single point within the business model – the communication between brands/retailers and their customers. Fashion brands using different distribution strategies, but they all have one process in common–managing the creation of the collection. Throughout the history of “already produced” fashion as we know it, there was almost no involvement of the customer feedback within this process. The entire involvement of the customer occurred and was also limited to a conversation about existing collections ready to be sold in the store. Another example of existing customer involvement are the loyalty programs. We all have a full pocket (or now a mobile phone) of them, created a long time ago and still existing as a customer binding system. Lesser processes reflect and respond directly to customers’ needs and communicate with users.

Well, times are changing now. The personalisation, we exercise in many aspects of our lives right up to when we sit on the couch watching personalised streaming services or driving cars produced according to our personal wishes, immensely changes our lifestyle and influences within our purchase decisions. Why am I saying this? It is because knowing what customers want is crucial for success in any industry and also counts strongly for fashion.  
However, there is no technology to make this interaction possible yet. No one can expect the customer to download an application for every fashion brand and brands probably will never outsource this process to multi-brand retail. Thus, an analysis of customer behaviour is hugely required, especially in connection to selection and influence, up to the product discovery and purchase process. In fact, most fashion brands are trying to find and use valuable analytics to understand current and to predict future customer needs. So, what is wrong with that? Nothing; except the fact that it is a kind of “blind date”–created to be general and with no connection to the personality of the fashion brand and its own fashion lovers. Also, any valuable analytics are created almost only from online sources because offline retail remains a “data black” hole according Forbes (please be reminded here that 80% of total sales will be done even in 2020 over offline retail). While big players have recognised the importance of data and customer interaction for better customer understanding by introducing concepts like ”stores of the future”, it is important to reflect what we will know about the customers’ behaviour with this innovation. Would this kind of in-store digital experience via retail devices deliver this desired information that will help fashion brands improve performance? I think no. We are still far from what we really need, but we are making a first step toward closer customer relationships, understanding its importance and establishing a way of how industry can learn more about the client’s wishes and desires.Interestingly, if we look at five top profitable fashion brands according to McKinsey, we would recognise one similarity among them  – they use the exclusive distribution strategy (sales only or almost completely in their own-branded stores). They have direct access to both online and offline consumers, with the greatest (currently technologically possible) insights into customers’ lives. This strategy allows the brands to have the closest contact with their customers, gaining the best understanding of their behaviour. We should not see this as an endorsement for the distribution strategy. However, we need to recognise the extreme need to be digitally connected with the customer, disregarding distribution channels, through instant connection between brands and users. It is clearly evidential that without the broad understanding of users’ behaviour, brands will lose the opportunity to improve their performance.

Ever-increasing customer demands against ever-limiting reality

Millions of customers eat and breathe fashion and mostly show their love online. They browse e-shops, spend time on social media and do online shopping. However, where is offline retail? In that sense, we have a disconnected universe. It follows a different pace and leads a different life, so to speak. Despite tech solutions trying to make purchases smoother and faster for the consumer by integrating stock approvals and delivery tools from online to offline, these environments are not easy to connect. There is currently no magical, seamless connection between offline and online shopping universes. Whichever option we may choose – online or offline – we will always be required to compromise on the benefits of the other. For instance, we compromise the sense of touch when we choose online and the sense of unlimited freedom of choice when we choose offline. Existing technology is unable to help in bridging the gap.Opening hours of physical retail shops is a problem nobody could solve yet – how could they? Is it even solvable? Well, it might be! I have a vision for how we could change the existing shopping reality by extending/digitalising fashion retail. Today, more than ever before, there is a high demand for flexibility because of the busyness of post-modern life and an even bigger need for convenience and user experience. We need to be in control of our shopping decisions. These needs are only partially addressed by existing solutions. Online shopping alone is not the solution to the needs mentioned above, because it is a different service altogether – it does not replicate the experience of shopping offline. Even if subscription services that sell/rent fashion-in-a-parcel address the same issues, they still provide a different kind of service and are far from making city shops more accessible, or let’s say digital, to the consumer. As mentioned in my earlier article, we have seen innovation in the offline fashion space. However, innovation is reserved for certain types of retailers and brands and goes in a different direction. Smart mirrors and digital shelves including i-Pad assistance make the customer experience richer and enjoyable, but do not touch upon real issues that exasperate customers on a daily basis and that could really solve brands’ and retailers’ problems. The same matters for new retailer software solutions (ordering online, delivering offline and vice versa). They only partially solve the problem. Why? This kind of service stands at the end of the product discovery chain, helping with delivery and access to the garment. The services can only support consumers who actively choose that retailer or brand after going through the decision-making and product discovery process, previously unassisted. And here we have dramatic figures about product accessibility – almost “96% of shoppers have left stores empty handed because they couldn’t find what they needed“. I would say it also reflects the time we probably invest in product discovery. (I don’t even start talking about lost amount of relevant data within this process). The manner in which we do offline shopping presently enables very limited product discovery within the available time, mostly wasted in searching.

Diversified retailer profiles bring an extra layer of complexity

To understand the challenges better, we need to distinguish between high-street retailers, usually owned by big brands that sell their namesake products and the rest, i.e. those who offer a multi-brand selection known as the “wholesale” concept. The latter creates diversity in the high-street, but they take high risk while attracting a customer.We must also consider the size of the brand. Smaller brands cannot afford what a giant like Louis Vuitton, with almost 3948 own stores, can. We have multi-retailers, shop owners and fashion conglomerates that operate multiple brands and their respective offline stores and brands that sell their own products in their own shops and within other retailers.Implementing any digital product or service by the brand will have far-reaching consequences for its different distribution channels. It brings another layer of complexity that prevents digitalising products or experiences in fashion. The risks of losing control on branding and its protection are another logical consequence of the processes.

Far-reaching consequences for customers and environment

Unsold inventory, which costs brands over 210 billion dollars a year, should qualify as a very important consequence. I see it as an outcome and logical result of all the problems, including the old business model described above. It was not such a major problem in the past. Living in an economy of speed and consumer consciousness has changed everything. Trend forecasts and predictions are not efficient enough and allow incorrect type or quantities of items to be produced and distributed. It is not a matter of which AI-driven tool provides it, if simply the way of collecting necessary data does not exist yet. We should eliminate unnecessary orders even more urgently than improving supply chains. Technology could and should help in doing it, because any even sustainably produced garment is unsustainable per se if no one will purchase it. Personalised production on-demand is an answer for some fashion brands, but the most would need another digital concept. Customer experience is another challenge.  Technology in fashion, nowadays, is not really changing the way we go about fashion shopping. It is just transforming/digitalising single processes. Whether online or offline, I still browse platforms and visit city shops, trying to find what I need or look for inspiration. This makes me think that fashion shopping is obsolete, even if digitalised. Real innovation would enable me to do something entirely different, connecting the dots of offline and online shopping. Only then would innovation improve the quality of life, in the sense of saving time and having unlimited freedom of choice.

 
Is it possible to develop a new business model and technology that transforms fashion into one with the ability to solve existing challenges by creating a new win-win business and reality for shoppers?

Photos by Francis Duval