An IOT strategy for fashion retailers

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When it comes to pushing boundaries on interaction and experience, the fashion industry sets the pace – so it’s only natural that many fashion retailers are at the forefront of IOT innovation.

In the latest edition of our Internet of Things analysis by sector – following on from our focus on grocery – we look at how forward-thinking fashion retailers are using IOT to engage customers and enhance their operational capabilities…

A joined-up approach

Led by shopper demand, fashion retailers are striving to offer more coherence between their online and offline channels, deploying smart devices in-store that deliver an experience more in line with customers’ digital preferences, and giving staff the opportunity to refine the service they offer.

For example, Tommy Hilfiger’s new European app was designed with bricks-and-mortar in mind, offering an in-store item scanning facility for checking product availability, as well as the ability to order items directly.

United Colours of Benetton is another retailer pioneering digital engagement in the store. Having long experimented with interactive technologies, it now uses digital signage that works in conjunction with sensors, triggering effects on video walls based on shopper movement.

Dynamic content is reaching new levels in fashion retail; IOT principles connect every device in the store to harvest and learn from customer data, enabling retailers to deliver increasingly personalised offers and services, and better guide shoppers’ in-store journey.

Staff too are benefitting from this technology – with the aid of connected devices, today’s fashion retail associates are empowered to deliver a higher level of customer service.

Taking stock of inventory

Given the often-seasonal nature of their products, fashion retailers have been quick to appreciate the operational benefits of IOT technology for stock management and pricing. They are learning that customers appreciate a visible inventory, too.

Apparel fitted with RFID tags can be easily located by staff or customers. Combined with weight sensors, RFID technology creates the potential for smart shelves, which can detect when an item is removed or replaced. By monitoring customer behaviour in such detail, fashion retailers are gaining greater insight into how people shop, and what they buy; in turn enabling them to deliver apparel and marketing content that speaks to their demands more closely than ever.

For instance, Levi’s has equipped its stores with new sensor technology that tracks inventory in real-time through RFID tags, to mitigate instances in which customers’ chosen products are out of stock in their size.

When paired with digital information kiosks and a store’s app or website, the available inventory is broadly transparent, and updates itself in real-time.

As well as offering insight into availability, RFID technology is creating upselling opportunities. As customers choose, scan or purchase tagged items, promotional notifications are triggered which outline suitable accessories and matching items, either in the form of alerts to their smartphone or via in-store digital media.

These RFID principles extend to a smart fitting room, which can recognise the items entering, and record which are sold or returned to the store, as well as suggesting matching items.

Smart mirrors: reflecting the future

IOT connectivity is having a dramatic impact on the changing room experience. For example, Superdry installed a smart mirror at its flagship store in Berlin, which uses body-tracking technology to capture the motion of the shopper, giving their digital ‘reflection’ the opportunity to model various outfits.

Meanwhile luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has introduced mirrors that obviate the need to take a ‘selfie’ for a second opinion. Its digital mirrors record a 360-degree view of the person in the fitting room, which are shared with the customer. They can also stack multiple try-ons, as well as superimposing different colours on clothing selections using augmented reality (AR).

Style and substance

Given its creative flair, it shouldn’t be surprising that the fashion sector has been one of the first to implement IOT technology to imbue its stores with a sense of theatre.

Inspiring and engaging the consumer through IOT technologies is the next step in omnichannel fashion; and retailers need to be aware that many of their competitors are already out of the blocks in their IOT strategy.

Find out how Grassfish’s Intelligent Store solutions can make IOT work for your fashion retail business.

New smart store brochure - Download here 

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