Fung Global Retail & Technology attended the 2017 Look Forward Fashion Tech Festival, which was held June 28–July 2 in Paris. Organized by e-commerce retailer Showroomprivee.com, the festival featured presentations, panel discussions and exhibitions. Our top takeaways from the latter days of the event include:
- Due to their real or perceived expertise, social media influencers can inspire shoppers in their purchasing decisions. Working with influencers is a powerful marketing strategy because people tend to trust them more than they do traditional celebrities.
- Data is key for retailers that seek to provide a better customer experience and stay competitive, but it has limitations. For example, it cannot create the sense of community for shoppers that is key to encouraging purchases, particularly in mass-market fashion.
- In the future, fashion manufacturing will become more sustainable, and customization will be key. The store of the future will be “phygital,” meaning it integrates physical and digital elements. It will be a showroom where shoppers go for experiential shopping and it will be supported by a more efficient supply chain.
Fung Global Retail & Technology attended the 2017 Look Forward Fashion Tech Festival, which was held June 28–July 2 in Paris. Organized by e-commerce retailer Showroomprivee.com, the festival featured presentations, panel discussions and a fashion tech exhibition. This report features selected takeaways from the latter days of the festival and follows our first report on the event, Look Forward Fashion Tech Festival 2017: Part 1—The Store of Tomorrow and E-Commerce and M-Commerce Innovation.
Hillary Sloan, Director of Business Development at fashion shopping platform ShopStyle, discussed the importance of influencer marketing in fashion retailing. Influencers are individuals who can inspire shoppers in their purchasing decisions thanks to their real or perceived expertise. The value of influencers is not measured by their number of followers, but by the engagement they generate among followers. Working with influencers is a powerful marketing strategy because people tend to trust them more than they do traditional celebrities. According to ShopStyle, influencers are currently the most trusted source of advice for shoppers. The main reason brands partner with influencers is to encourage brand advocacy and awareness. Leveraging social media influencers for marketing purposes has tangible bottom-line benefits: ShopStyle saw a 65% increase in traffic and multibrand retailers selling through the site saw a 250% increase in sales due to sponsored content featuring various influencer.
Data is key for retailers that seek to provide a better customer experience and stay competitive. But the use of data in fashion retail also has its limits. This was the focus of a panel discussion with Natalia Modenova, cofounder of More Dash Sales and PR Agency, a Ukrainian sales and PR firm; Jessica Graves, Data Scientist at fashion and technology research studio Sefleuria; Romain Doutriaux, Director of Marketing at data science platform Dataïku; and Eric Briones, Associate Professor at business fashion school Moda Domani Institute.
In fashion, the story that a brand conveys to shoppers to market products is very important. In the future, though, fashion brands will sell experience through customization. Data is crucial for customization, but it cannot create the story behind the product. Moreover, in mass-market fashion, creating a community with which consumers can identify is even more important than personalization is, and data plays a smaller role in community creation than do social media influencers. Artificial intelligence uses shoppers’ data to tailor recommendations for them, but shoppers are reluctant to be advised by an algorithm; most still prefer to receive recommendations from a human store associate.
The Future of Fashion Tech Manufacturing
Muchaneta Kapfunde, founding Editor-in-Chief at digital fashion technology magazine FashNerd.com, shared her insights regarding fashion tech startups that are looking to start manufacturing their products. Manufacturing is challenging for startups, she noted, citing a statistic that 97% of electronics products failed when it came to manufacturing in 2016, while only 3% made it to retail shelves. Startups looking to manufacture their products need to hunt for the best partner, one that has a proven history of successful manufacturing. Real-world testing—starting with a small batch of manufactured products to test the market—is also crucial in order to understand what customers want. Starting with a small production run is a sensible next step once the product has passed market testing. Finally, Kapfunde shared her view on the future of fashion tech manufacturing, saying she believes it will become more sustainable as mass production will give way to customization.
The Future of Fashion and Beauty Shopping
Finally, we attended a panel on the future of fashion and beauty shopping that saw the participation of Emilie Canciani, Customer Journey Manager at commercial property firm Klépierre; Desiree Reid, General Manager at cosmetics firm Impala; and Loïc Bouquet, Business Director at clothing retailer Damart. The panelists said that the store format of the future will be “phygital,” one where physical and digital elements are integrated. The group noted that physical stores are unlikely to become redundant, given that 90% of products purchased in France today are still purchased in brick-and-mortar stores.
The panelists said that function of the physical store is likely to change in the future, however, due to three main trends. First, stores will be places that provide entertainment to shoppers. Second, stores will act as showrooms where customers will be able to try on and experience products. And third, stores will run more efficient supply chains, as customization will make it unnecessary to stock entire collections in stores, while tracking technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) will enable retailers to understand the performance of products in stores and adjust inventory accordingly.