Fashion industry is known for anticipating consumer needs and trends, and looking forward to the future. The industry has been responsive, producing more products in shorter time frames to meet demand and shifting to online and other omnichannel sales to reach consumers where they are. However, the pace of change has increased in the past year.
Not only have businesses had to focus on increased efficiency for success, but also providing an excellent customer experience. A recent survey found that nearly 40% of retailers and 33% of consumers goods companies ranked customer experience, commerce, and marketing their top priorities for 2021.
Showcasing environmental credibility is one such way to connect with consumers, as they are demanding more sustainability and transparency from the brands and retailers they shop with and the fashion industry has increasingly been under the spotlight in this arena. It is becoming a crucial part of future success. A survey of more than 14,000 consumers conducted by IBM Institute for Business Value, (IBV), revealed that 76% said sustainability was important to them when they choose a brand.
Responding to these trends and preparing for the future requires reflecting on entrenched processes that may no longer be up to date, and considering novel uses of technology. The technological ABCs of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cloud technology have been adopted by pioneers in the industry and used to their advantage as well as that of their customers.
- Creating efficiencies from design to point-of-sale. The project’s goal was to achieve competitive advantage through market insight, product design, supply chain personalisation, and optimization, as well as to train future retail leaders in the application of AI.
- Engaging customers across the lifecycle. Arianee is a top NFT (Non-fungible tokens) platform for luxury and fashion. They are currently working with IBM to create a blockchain-based solution that combines supply chains transparency with brand engagement.
The relationship between brand and consumer starts with the purchase of the product, but it doesn’t end there. This relationship can continue throughout the product’s lifecycle, through authentication and identification of buyers, as well special offers to customers, such as product-related incentives.
- Proving sustainability through transparency. This platform will make garment information, such as their place of manufacture, product composition, and environmental certifications, accessible to consumers through a QR code. It will be powered by IBM blockchain technology. The platform will use AI and hybrid cloud to track the social and environmental impact of each value chain and allow for course correction.
With projects like these, the fashion industry will not only meet regulatory requirements for sustainability and the demands of its customers, it will also be able to flexibly respond to new regulations and trends. It can also show its ability to anticipate their needs and provide services they may not be able to imagine. This will show that the industry is ready for the future and can keep up with the times.
– Roberto Battistoni, Fashion & Consumer Industry Business Development Lead, IBM, UK & Ireland