The digital transformation of the fashion industry: Fad or future?

While the digital transformation of the fashion industry began years ago, the past year has kicked this change into high gear, fueling new, innovative solutions to longtime challenges. 

Models pose for Sankuanz

Table of Contents

1. Fashion's digital transformation

Digital transformation is the process of transforming systems and strategies within a business through digital means. While this concept is not new, the fashion industry has broadened its digital transformation as a response to Covid-19, which forced industry players to find new solutions to new problems. 

 

2. Breaking down digital transformation

Throughout the pandemic, brands and retailers have dealt with digital transformation in their own way. Those who are more digitally-savvy have had an objective advantage over those who are less so, signalling to fashion companies that adaptation and innovation is the key to success moving forward.

 

3. A necessary transformation moving forward

Statista reports that the global apparel market is projected to grow in value from $1.5 trillion USD in 2020 to $2.25 trillion USD by 2025. A bigger market means new and greater challenges, and digital transformation is the best way to curb issues before they arise. These solutions range from rendering processes more sustainable, to creating more streamlined supply chains, to improving the value chain, to better addressing consumer needs. 

 

4. Social media, the most visible front of digital transformation

Social media has occupied a highly influential role in fashion in the last 10 years, and it has become even more powerful over the past year largely as a result of the pandemic: increased time spent online and the closing of physical spaces and events has driven many online. Consumer values are shifting, and brands must adapt to cater to their customers.  

 

5. E-commerce: The avenue of digital transformation

E-commerce has grown exponentially in the last 18 months following store closing around the world: a 2021 report from McKinsey & Co. affirms that 43% of consumers who had never purchased clothing online began doing so during the past year. This means that for many brands, their e-commerce strategy must be fitted to the rising digitalization and personalization of consumers’ shopping habits and demands.

 

6. Resell, the sustainable solution with digital innovations

Resell has gained popularity as a result of the growing sustainability movement among consumers, particularly Gen Zers and Millennials. According to GlobalData, the second-hand market is predicted to reach a value of $69 billion USD by 2026. Resell requires significant digital transformation, however, such as expanding one’s e-commerce site or involving a third party site, infusing smart technologies into the process, including or expanding internal teams, and finding new sources of customer data. 

 

7. Brick-and-mortar stores are overdue for a digital transformation

With the growing success of e-commerce, physical stores are looking to create a customer experience that relates more to online shopping. Personalization and digitalization have become necessities for consumers, and they don’t want to sacrifice their experience while shopping in person. The solution is omnichannel, in-store shopping, integrating features in-store such as QR codes, loyalty apps, smart fitting rooms, and more.

 

8. Simplifying the supply chain with digital transformation

For fashion companies, the supply chain should be one of the first places to commence their digital transformation. Supply chains are famously complex, and are often the first sources of inefficiency and waste. Brands and retailers can explore a number of solutions to curb these challenges, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence for task automation, data synchronization, and more. 

 

9. Digitally transforming the apparel value chain

The value chain is founded in business management, and entails all activities or processes which create or add value to the product, and there are many digital solutions to revolutionize this process. The planning and design stages can be improved with design tools like AR, 3D modeling, and other CAD software. The production stage can become significantly more efficient and sustainable with the integration of smart factories. The distribution stage can benefit from automation, often through AI, to improve its quality, logistics, and tagging processes.

 

10. Trend forecasting: Digital when done right

Trend forecasting in fashion is the act of predicting future fashion trends to give brands the means to better plan collections. While not all forms of trend forecasting involve quantitative data, the forms which do are far more accurate. Descriptive and predictive analytics are becoming increasingly useful for fashion brands who can use these insights for a number of reasons: better inventory management, reduced overstock, lower time-to-market speed, and more.

 

11. The digital transformation of the fashion industry: The sky's the limit

The fashion industry is in the age of digital transformation, as more and more digital innovations are becoming available to fashion companies. Changes in consumer demands, market behavior, and technology are responsible for the industry’s necessity to adapt. Social media, online and in-store shopping, and resell are growing arenas in which fashion brands must listen to their customers, and respond with digital solutions and new mentalities. Supply and value chains grow more complex each year, but technological innovations are stepping in to create an industry that is more efficient, human, and sustainable.

Fashion's digital transformation

model poses behind bubble illusion

Abhishek Joshi

Over the course of the past year, businesses in nearly every industry have had to accelerate their digital transformation to accommodate new challenges presented by Covid-19. The shift to online channels, the improvement of supply chains, or the restructuring of business models are part of a worldwide digital transformation that was bound to happen, albeit at a much slower pace. But what exactly is digital transformation?

 


Definition: 

Digital transformation is best defined as the process of transforming systems and strategies within a business through digital means. 


 

It’s an umbrella term for a number of different mechanisms, and it brings as many new benefits as it does challenges. Like any form of change, particularly those that occur rapidly, digital transformation has led to the widespread reconsideration of current and traditional ways of conducting business. This is especially poignant in the fashion industry, where the intersection of creativity and data have given rise to fresh challenges, and even fresher solutions. 

To understand the digital transformation of the fashion industry, it’s important to first understand the part that Covid-19 has played in this phenomenon.

 

Prior to the pandemic, digitization and fashion were not, by any means, strangers to one another.

Data-integrated supply chains, AI-assisted design, tech-infused brick-and-mortar stores, and more already existed for some brands and retailers. Digital transformation can even be as simple as switching from paper to digital, or launching an e-commerce site. What makes this phenomenon worth discussing, then, is that it was predicted to occur slowly over time. Covid-19 accelerated this shift tenfold in the fashion industry, and even more significantly, normalized and democratized the idea of going digital.

Breaking down digital transformation

That said, brands and retailers have dealt with digital transformation differently over the past year, each in their own way. According to McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2021, 45% of fashion executives identify Covid-19 as the biggest challenge this year, and 30% see going digital as the biggest opportunity. Brands’ existing business model, company culture, brand identity, and strategy have informed their path of digital transformation, with some transforming top-to-bottom, and others in bits and pieces. Regardless, one thing is certain: those who are more digitally-savvy have an objective advantage over those who are less so. According to McKinsey and Co., when we look through the lens of digital transformation there exist two types of fashion companies today: 

 

  1. Digital leaders: Online sales make up 30-40% of total sales, the value chain is significantly digitized, and online and offline channels are integrated to some extent
  2. Laggards: Online sales make up less than 20% of total sales, the value chain has low levels of digitization, and online and offline channels are largely separated
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Evidently, digital leaders are ahead of the laggards -- the terms explain themselves. But luckily, these labels don't have to be permanent. Any company, no matter their development stage, can turn to digital transformation moving forward. Additionally, laggards have more room for improvement than their counterparts, so it becomes much easier to digitize if desired. The rapid integration of new technologies is a significant competitive advantage for companies in both stages, though, so the mantra remains the same: adapt quickly, or risk falling behind.

A necessary transformation moving forward

Why is digital transformation so important? According to Statista, the global apparel market is projected to grow in value from $1.5 trillion USD in 2020 to $2.25 trillion USD by 2025. This exponential growth could potentially lead to more serious consequences for the planet, increased complications in global supply chains, greater difficulty establishing efficiency within fashion brands and retailers, and rising consumption by people around the world. Digital transformation exists to address these challenges:

 

  • Render processes more sustainable
  • Create more streamlined supply chains
  • Improve the value chain for brands
  • Better meet the needs of customers. 
iD Fenty Photography Hanna Moon 2

iD Fenty, Hanna Moon 

Let’s have a look at the myriad ways that digital transformation is innovating the fashion industry, from the present to the future.

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Social media, the most visible front of digital transformation

The role of social media has grown in importance since the start of the pandemic, and the reason is rather simple: lockdowns around the world led to much more time spent online, and the absence of physical interaction and events opened up a space for virtual replacements. While social media has been, for several years, a platform where consumers, brands, and influencers exist symbiotically, it has become increasingly interactive and personalized. Consumers demand transparency, authenticity, and simplicity above all else -- brands and influencers have had to respond accordingly. Many brands and retailers have upped their social media presence and strategy. Whereas brands’ social media once served as a place for campaigning, it has become much more multipurpose than simple advertising. 

TikTok Fashion Grazia Daily

Grazia Daily

To be digitally native is to be innovative

For one, brand-to-consumer relationships have become much more intimate. Digitally-native brands already had a grasp on this strategy long before the pandemic -- these brands are born online and employ a DTC (direct-to-consumer) approach, fostering customer experience above all else. Brands like Musier, Rouje, and Eliou have mastered the art of Instagram, curating their page like a fashion magazine and involving their followers in collections, posts, and stories. Their fresh, youthful brand identity appeals perfectly to Instagram’s largest customer base of Gen Zers and Millennials. 

 

Instagram isn’t the only social media platform where brands can cultivate a digital presence, however: on WeChat, American luxury leather goods label Senreve successfully penetrated the Chinese market purely through social media marketing. The brand spent nearly two years hosting events and conducting surveys on the platform, combined with a hefty presence on social commerce platform Little Red Book. Today, Senreve’s Chinese sales have grown from 20% to 50%.

 

TikTok is also a big contender in the social media space for fashion brands and trends. In February 2021, the platform boasted a total of 1.1 billion active TikTok users compared to Douyin’s 400 million. The numbers are astounding -- TikTok is a megahit, and many fashion brands haven’t let its virality slip past them. Fashion retailer ASOS is one example: ASOS launched its own challenge, dubbed the #AySauceChallenge, in which users were invited to show off their ASOS outfits while dancing. The retailer partnered with a list of major influencers, and even created a custom audio for the challenge. As of April 2021, the hashtag is in at 2.5 billion views on the app.

But this is just one example -- there are many ways for brands to expand their marketing strategy to TikTok: 

 

  • Collaborate with influencers 
  • Use promotional ads
  • Stay in touch with trending audios, hashtags, and challenges 
  • Capitalize on meme culture and virality
  • Create branded AR lenses, filters, stickers, and audios
  • Engage in brand takeover on popular accounts
TikTok Fashion Nylon Mag

Nylon Mag

Social media is a learned skill for many brands in fashion

Ambush x Nike

Ambush x Nike

For non-digitally native brands, the pandemic pushed many to become more strategic in their social media approach. Gucci launched a short film series on their social media, Mango posts story surveys to get consumer feedback on future collections, and Calvin Klein’s #inmycalvins campaign is wildly successful across Instagram. Consumers respond positively to brands when they sense a certain authenticity, and a willingness to listen to the consumer. Social media is a major pillar of digital transformation, as it requires a digital marketing strategy tailored to these platforms and to consumer behavior.

Social media commerce: A DTC approach 

Digital transformation in this arena is even more vital today thanks to direct-to-sale features on many social media platforms. Consumers can now shop directly from the Instagram app, for instance. Tmall and Taobao are two major social commerce platforms, as well. A survey conducted by Search Engine Watch found that 73% of US teenagers say Instagram is the best way to reach them with new fashion items and trends, proving the effectiveness of social media in brands’ marketing strategies. Marco Marandiz, e-commerce strategist, attests to this approach: 

 


“Websites will become less relevant and social media channels — TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube — those are going to be far more powerful for driving sales directly to a specifically built site to make a sale.”


 

Noonoouri at Dior

Noonoouri x Dior

Oftentimes, brands don’t act alone when it comes to social media marketing. Influencers are a significant part of this strategy and have a direct impact on consumer buying decisions. According to 2020 research from the SHS Web of Conference

 

  • More than 55% of respondents consider products that promote influencers to be better than others
  • Nearly 30% of respondents would buy a product just because it was promoted by their favorite influencer. 

 

This helps explain why so many brands have upped their influencer marketing over the past 12 months -- it works.

 

And it’s not only human influencers -- even the influencers themselves have been digitized in some cases. Noonoouri, a virtual model created by Munich-based designer and creative director Joerg Zuber, has nearly 400K Instagram followers. The digital character already has partnerships with Dior, Versace, Swarovski, among others, advertising brand products to her many followers. All this to say that digital marketing has no limits, and social media allows brands to:

 

    • Grow and even diversify their consumer base 
    • Be in touch with their consumers’ social, cultural, and even political sensibilities
    • Optimize multichannel ecommerce through multiple social media platforms 
    • Strengthen their influencer portfolio with micro, macro, and hero influencers to reach a wider audience
    • Create desirable content even outside of the marketing realm
    • Increase sell-through and bolster brand awareness

     

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E-commerce: The avenue of digital transformation

In the same way that social media creates a multichannel funnel for fashion brands, e-commerce has become an indispensable tool in the industry today. So indispensable, in fact, that a growing number of brands have no brick-and-mortar store at all. The proportion of purchases that consumers are now making online as opposed to in-store is proof that shopping has fundamentally changed since the start of the pandemic: a 2021 report affirms that 43% of consumers who had never purchased clothing online began doing so during the past year. 

 

But of course, the widespread store closings have much to do with these numbers. That said, a report from Kibo found that 30% of Gen Zers and 36% of Millennial consumers expect to purchase less at physical stores than before. While it’s difficult to predict such behavior, there has been an objective digital transformation in e-commerce over the past twelve months. 

Ambush x Nike

Ambush x Nike

 


The rapid growth of online commerce has pushed fashion brands and retailers to seek out new data, and new forms of collecting data. 


 

Everything from customer profiles to UX design to supply chain management has become implicated in e-commerce. According to Euromonitor International, global online retailing will grow by $1.5 trillion USD by 2024. This is particularly interesting given pre-pandemic predictions: global online retailing was expected to fall between 2019 and 2020, from $531.25 billion USD to $485.62 billion USD. Evidently, consumers’ attention has turned to the Internet when it comes to shopping, a natural progression of the industry-wide, and society-wide, digital transformation. 

Andreea-Diaconu-Fashion-Editorial03

Andreea Diaconu 

What are the most innovative ways to build an e-commerce strategy?

But what are brands doing to contribute to such big numbers? The chief answer is: omnichannel streamlining. In layman’s terms, ease-of-access. Consumers today need what they’re seeking to be a click or two away, and the look and layout of the website itself matters immensely. For instance, Shopify affirms that 6 out of 10 shoppers admit that the possibility to shop via mobile phone is “an important factor” in deciding which brands to purchase from. An easy-to-use, visually-appealing e-commerce site that is adapted to mobile phone use can make a world of difference for brands’ sell-through. 

 

In the same vein, integrating social media into e-commerce is indispensable today. It’s why digitally-native brands exist, and why it works so well. On average, Gen Z consumers spend 4.5 hours per day on social media, and Millennials spend an average of 3.8 hours according to a recent survey from YPulse.


Fashion brands must go to the consumer, rather than the other way around -- and where they are, is social media. 


 

Whether the content is explicitly branded, or disguised as entertainment, consumers tend to respond well. Instagram, TikTok, Douyin, and more are great platforms for fashion brands to reach their target audience and convert them to in-app shopping or their e-commerce site. And the future is bright: a recent McKinsey survey finds that 71% of fashion experts project a 20% or more growth in online businesses in 2021.

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Resell, the sustainable solution with digital innovations

A byproduct of e-commerce and the pandemic has been none other than resell. A sustainable initiative, resell requires significant digital transformation within fashion companies who wish to go in this direction. Resell often involves:

 

  • New or transformed internal management
  • A new section of the brand’s site or even a third party site
  • Customer data
  • A number of smart technologies 

 

Furthermore, many Gen Zers and Millennials are opting for resell as a part of their general drive for sustainability in fashion. Rather than purchasing new clothing, a growing number of consumers are buying second-hand in an effort to counteract fast fashion and its many repercussions. For fashion brands that are considering resell, there exist many examples of fashion players that have already taken advantage of technological innovations to make the step toward resell. 

Charter by Matthieu Belin 1

Charter by Matthieu Belin

1. Style Lend

Style Lend is a fashion rental marketplace that uses machine learning in its process. This AI technology matches customers with their ideal style and fit, and their rental model is ultimately far more sustainable than purchasing new clothing.

2. Reflaunt

Reflaunt is a technology company that makes resell simple for big retailers: consumers can resell their past purchases directly on participating brand’s e-commerce sites. These items are then connected to a number of global marketplaces, and Reflaunt maintains a connection between the brand and their products to prevent loss or counterfeiting. 

3. Tommy Jeans Xplore

Tommy Jeans Xplore is a line in which the collection’s pieces are embedded with a Bluetooth smart tag. This tag is connected to the brand’s dedicated app, where consumers are rewarded with points each time they wear the garment. While this isn’t exactly resell, it encourages longer life cycles for clothing, and changes the way consumers approach treating their existing clothing and purchasing new ones.  

Resell is a booming market -- it’s exciting, but it’s also complex. Indeed, resell requires a degree of digital transformation for those interested, but it’s a clever venture. According to GlobalData, the second-hand market will increase by 15.5% by 2026, reaching a whopping $69 billion USD.

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Brick-and-mortar stores are overdue for a digital transformation

Creating an omnichannel experience for consumers

Does digital transformation always have to exist exclusively in the virtual space? Not at all. A growing number of brick-and-mortar stores have taken the leap, integrating digital processes into traditional ones. And given the numbers, more and more brands should consider upgrading their in-store experience to match the online experience. According to WWD, over 50 major fashion retailers “experienced dips in revenue north of the million-dollar mark” in 2020. While global lockdowns and thus store closings largely contributed to these numbers, it’s also a sign that consumers are no longer satisfied with the status quo. 

 


Consumers want their reality to match their virtual reality, and personalization has become vital to the customer experience.


 

 

One solution is to connect online and in-store shopping. Omnichannel shopping, as discussed at length above, has become the norm for the majority of consumers. A report from Kibo found that a whopping 94% of Millennial and Gen Z consumers do research online before going to a physical store, from checking inventory to store hours.

Shopping in-store, therefore, should offer the same personalization and information that does online shopping -- the biggest pain point among many consumers when in-store shopping is the lack of choice or efficiency, and for online shopping, it’s the lack of human interaction and experience. Combining the two thus requires a digital angle. There exist several solutions:

 

  • The option to pay online while in store
  • Replacing loyalty cards with loyalty apps
  • Bring online reviews offline
  • Attach QR codes to items for access to pricing, product information, reviews, and more
Liu-Wen-Model08

Liu Wen

Innovative technologies for a futuristic in-store shopping experience

Margiela Couture FW18 1

Margiela Couture FW18

These are just a few of the ways brands can marry online and in-store shopping. If we take it one step further, some brands have embraced digital transformation in even more innovative ways to boost their customers’ in-store experience. 

 

1. Virtual assistants are now being used in-store by some. Chatbots and similar tools already exist in online shopping: this software uses machine learning and language processing technology to engage in text conversations with customers. In-store, virtual shopping assistants can be installed in fitting rooms, and create a liaison between the customer and a real-life staff member.

 

2. Digital fitting rooms are gaining popularity for brands with brick-and-mortar stores who wish to engage in digital transformation. Smart fitting rooms typically function with the help of RFID tags that are incorporated into each garment. When a customer tries on the clothing in the fitting room, the mirror recognizes the garments thanks to the RFID tags, opening up a range of services for the customer. This can include searching for other colors, sizes, or associated garments, accessing the store’s catalog, adding items directly to one’s cart, and more. Some smart fitting rooms even allow customers to try on clothing digitally, without putting on any physical pieces.

 

There are many more options for brands hoping to upgrade their customers’ in-store shopping experience, from virtual racks, to interactive kiosks, to augmented reality tools. 

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Simplifying the supply chain with digital transformation

The supply chain is a famously complex process; this multilateral, multistep, often multilocation process contains the most moving parts for any fashion brand, but also the most room for change. Research from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and Maersk finds three main challenges for fashion brands in the supply chain

 

  1. Fluctuations in customer demands
  2. Lack of flexibility
  3. Customer expectations

 

The solution then, is to integrate data and digital solutions from the top, in order to create a synergy throughout the entire supply chain. The combination of proper strategy, technology, and willingness is all that’s needed to enact a true transformation. There are many ways to improve supply chain management: 

 

  • Use a supply chain analytics platform to have constant access to real-time, reliable data 
  • Automate tracking processes to keep data in one place, from shipment costs to manufacturing progress
  • Embed IoT (Internet of Things) censors into items moving through the supply chain to gain more visibility and traceability
  • Integrate AI to automate repetitive tasks and deliver intelligence throughout supply chain systems

While this list isn’t comprehensive, it gives an idea of the many ways the supply chain can be digitally transformed. These solutions, each in their own way, can lead to better decision making, reduced costs, greater efficiency, and consumer satisfaction. In the words of Maersk’s March 2021 Report on the digitalization of the supply chain in fashion: 

 


“If we are to forge systemic change, a broader program of collaboration is needed, where different parties work together– and technology is simply the enabler to make this happen.”


 

Eniko Szucs For Numero Russia May 2019

Eniko Szucs for Numero Russia

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Digitally transforming the apparel value chain

While the supply chain concerns all activities which directly involve product creation -- sourcing, manufacturing, and logistics -- the value chain concerns activities which create or add value to the product. The supply chain is founded in operation management, while the value chain is founded in business management. As such, the digital transformation required for fashion’s value chain differs from that of its supply chain. 

Jeremy Scott, Fashion Show, Ready To Wear Collection Fall Winter 2018 in New York

Jeremy Scott FW18

Digitalizing planning and design: Innovative solutions

Design and design planning is often the most obvious step when the apparel value chain comes to mind. We tend to picture designers sketching and sewing in rooms filled with fabric -- while not untrue, today’s process involves far more technology than in our imaginations. 

 

Virtual design tools have changed the way many designers approach this age-old process. Tools like design software, 3D modeling, and augmented reality are revolutionizing design for a growing number of brands who were not historically digital. 

 

  • Augmented Reality: AR software can measure the exact resources required to cut down on fabric and other waste; customers can create customized clothing in their desired designs; taking customer measurements is done digitally and thus cuts down on time and renders clothing more size-inclusive; and customers can do remote fittings with an avatar of themselves.
  • 3D Modeling: 3D software can create custom designs and prints; the designs and parameters can be sent directly to the manufacturing site to be constructed there; designs can be changed at any stage of planning without wasting physical resources; importing specs allows designers to see how fabrics behave in motion. 
  • CAD Software: Computer Assisted Design software allows designers to create 2D and 3D sketches, digitally. This is useful for data synchronization throughout the value chain, with successful platforms like Tukatech and CLO 3D. 

Beyond greater efficiency, another major motivator to digitally transform the design process is its impact on sustainability. The aforementioned digital solutions help to reduce resource consumption, from fabrics, to threads, to embellishments, which is a major source of waste for most fashion brands and retailers. Other brands are taking it a step further, cutting out the waste problem from the start and using digital avenues to create sustainable resources themselves. 

 

Sustainable textile company Flocus has created new textiles based on the Kapok tree, using in-house technologies to form a sustainable supply chain surrounding the plant. Lab-Made Fabrics is a similar company, creating faux leather in the lab using a technology that is able to reprogram the self-assembly of collagen molecules. In the end, incorporating data and AI into the design process is an ideal way to save time, energy, and overconsumption. 

Personalizing and green-ifying production

The production stage of the fashion value chain involves a series of stages: product development, production management, and materials production and assembly. The quickest way to digitally transform the production process here is through smart factories: a factory that uses at least one Industry 4.0 technology, including robotics, artificial intelligence, analytics, or IoT (Internet of Things). 

 

The major benefit of a smart factory in the value chain is that it increases efficiency across the board by lowering the need for human intervention, shortening time-to-market speed, and lowering production costs in the long run.

Abishek Joshi

Abhishek Joshi

Here are some of the other benefits of smart factories: 

  1. Reduce waste: Fashion brands and retailers can adjust their collections in real-time to address changing consumer desires, thus reducing waste. In the past, collections were often planned several seasons in advance, and when trends went out of style there was significantly lower sell-through and greater waste.
  2. Made to measure: The IoT gives teams within fashion brands the ability to communicate more effectively, so changes to design tailored to specific customers can be effectuated in less time. 
  3. Customer satisfaction: By delivering products in less time and in a more personalized manner, customers are more likely to remain loyal to the brand.

Transforming distribution with data synchronization and automation

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Eniko Szucs for Numero Russia

Distribution falls under the Outbound Logistics step of the value chain, in which a brand or retailer collects, stores, or distributes products to its customers. Concerning distribution, this can mean warehousing, quality assurance, or shipping, which make up the penultimate step of the apparel value chain. Among others, these are two aspects of the distribution stage which can benefit from a digital transformation:

    • Quality and logistics: This is the process of assessing a product’s quality once manufactured in order to prevent defective products from being distributed. For fashion, though, quality checks are often done in pre-production, during production, and post-production, leading to complicated logistics when done without the help of data analytics and digital solutions.
    • Product tagging: This is the process of “tagging” products with their correct keywords in order to improve product catalogs. Manual tagging is done by a human, and it takes time and energy to apply product tags to all of the photos in a product catalog. Automatic product tagging, though, uses AI-based image recognition to tag products automatically, without human intervention.

     

     

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Trend forecasting: Digital when done right

Fashion trend forecasting is the process of predicting future fashion trends to allow brands to better plan collections. These predictions can be based on social movements, consumer behavior, market demand, and more, but these sources are not always based on quantitative data. Data-based trend forecasting, therefore, exists to help brands and retailers make informed decisions when planning future collections, and real-time data is becoming increasingly important as market status and consumer behavior shift more rapidly than ever. 

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Some forms of quantitative trend forecasting use descriptive analytics, meaning historical data such as past sales data and past market demand to make predictions on the same metrics in the future. Others use predictive analytics, using past and current data to make forecasts for future trend behavior. When integrated into the collection planning process, data-based trend forecasting is a form of digital transformation which has a number of advantages: 

 

  • Better inventory management
  • More accurate potential market demand
  • Reduced overstock
  • Improved cross-team communication and collaboration
  • Lower time-to-market speed
  • Differences in trend behavior in varying geographies
  • Consumer segmentation associated with each trend
  • Greater sell-through
  • Increased competitive advantage 

 

Check out our latest report to discover Influencer Marketing and FW21 Trends:

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The digital transformation of the fashion industry: The sky's the limit

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new, or modify existing, business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. Indeed, the fashion industry is in the age of digital transformation, and it’s a necessary progression of its evolution, especially given the current situation. It is crucial to shape the industry consciously and with purpose, with the hopes of moving toward a sector that is collaborative, streamlined, and self-aware. 

 

Bear in mind, though, that digital transformation will not happen overnight, nor will it happen homogeneously. The digital transformation process is one that is bespoke: it must be tailored to the brand or retailer to fit their specific challenges and goals within their existing framework. The forms of digital transformation and its benefits are many: 

  • Social media is a necessary arena for brands to master, strengthening brand-to-customer relationships, reinforcing brand identity and transparency, promoting multichannel commerce, and increasing sell-through. 
  • E-commerce has filled the gap of brick-and-mortar stores, and having a simple, accessible, visually appealing, and well-marketing online store is the difference between lagging behind in sales and pulling ahead of the competition.
  • Resell has gained popularity over the past year especially, with consumers demanding sustainable options from their favorite brands who must integrate digital solutions to address the resell issue.
  • In-store shopping hasn’t gone away, and many brands are integrating digital tools and solutions to their physical stores to accommodate customers’ changing desires and expectations.
  • Supply chains are a complex process, and digital transformation can be integrated into nearly every step, from warehouse data, to shipping logistics, to team alignment.
  • The value chain adds value to a product, from design, to production, to distribution, and digital solutions can add further value to these stages to improve value chain efficiency and customer satisfaction. 
  • Data-based trend forecasting can bring fashion brands a number of advantages throughout the collection-planning process, from better inventory management, to reduced overstock, to improved cross-team alignment.
trend forecasting platform

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