As fashion retailers and brands strive to stand out from the crowd and retain shoppers’ loyalty, they have often been among the first to trial emerging tech ideas. Drapers looks at some of the best for this year.
House of Holland NFC-enabled rings
Shoppable runways take off
British designer Henry Holland made his spring 16 London Fashion Week catwalk show instantly accessible to those on the frow. This was achieved through a partnership with Visa Europe, which enabled guests to use bespoke rings enabled with near-field communication to purchase items worn by the models.
The clothing contained tags linked via Bluetooth to Visa’s payment network and each ring was pre-loaded with £500, so when the user held it near the item they wanted, the transaction was made.
Having provided a bit of fun on the day for the buyers and celebrities involved, the tech has the potential to be quickly scaled up and could in future lead to stores without cash desks.
It’s all about the chat
Often at the forefront of tech innovations, British luxury label Burberry jumped on the growing craze for social media site Snapchat this year. It launched a campaign aimed at boosting brand awareness among younger shoppers and the loyalty generated through the offer of exclusive previews.
The brand unveiled a sneak preview of its spring 16 collection the night before its official London catwalk show to Snapchat’s 100 million users and then followed this up with the streaming on the same social platform of a ”Burberry Live Story”, including show-related video and images.
Taking the use of the social media site one step further, Burberry also released behind-the-scenes footage of its Mario Testino-created spring 16 advertising campaign while it was being filmed. The footage was revealed in real time and was only available for 24 hours before it disappeared.
Cardboard goes techy
In February, River Island became the first fashion brand to partner with Google to create a CGI video using the tech giant’s Google Cardboard makeshift virtual reality headset. The video was used to launch the retailer’s Design Forum x Jean-Pierre Braganza collection and enable viewers to immerse themselves in the 360-degree film experience.
The virtual reality was developed by creative production firm Happy Finish.
As retailers seek to create strong brand experiences for their shoppers, everyone is waiting for CGI and interactive videos to really take off, and this is certainly the first step.
Mobile payment gets juicy
The launch of Apple Pay in the UK in July was undeniably one of the biggest tech stories of the year, providing shoppers with a new, and more secure, way to pay on the go – both in store and via mobile apps.
Many of the bigger retailers instantly signed up to the new tech, including Marks & Spencer, Topshop, JD and H&M, so it quickly gathered momentum and added further weight to the growing trend for contactless payments.
Now rivals Samsung and Google are seeking to get in on the action, with their respective Samsung Pay and Android Pay systems, which – when eventually launched in the UK at a date still unknown – will really provide shoppers with even greater payment flexibility.
Shop Direct Group tablets
Shop Direct gets personal
Etail giant Shop Direct is never far from the tech-related headlines, often trialling new innovative ideas and systems ahead of its competitors. But in March it set the bar for website personalisation when it revealed what it claims to be the world’s most personalised website for its Very.co.uk platform.
The fully-personalised homepage, which can move the most relevant products to prominent positions based upon shoppers’ interests and buying history, offered 1.2 million different variations at launch, with Shop Direct now working to increase this to 3.5 million and extend it to its mobile platforms.
Shop Direct believes the innovative site will add £20m in sales for 2015, and it is now being closely followed by all other big etail and multichannel fashion businesses who are desperate to tap into their success.
Following the cookie trail
With the ability to track customer journeys across multiple devices rapidly becoming the holy grail for many tech-savvy retailers, Israeli tech firm Crosswise claims to have the answer. This summer it launched in the UK and is already working with etailer Shop Direct.
The business uses its own in-house algorithms to trawl through online data, matching up use patterns to prove multiple devices and their cookies belong to the same person. The retailer is then offered the cookie IDs for the different devices, enabling them to better track shoppers’ interests and target their marketing more effectively. The beauty of the technology is that it doesn’t require shoppers to log into websites for them to be traced, a method many retailers have focused on with varying degrees of success.
Mmuze-ing on social trends
With social a growing force, another Israeli tech firm is helping retailers to match their full inventory to developing social trends, enabling adverts for relevant products to be automatically generated and targeted at the specific demographic.
This means if a celebrity tweets about a black dress being worn to an event, Mmuze can locate a similar dress in a retailer’s inventory and target adverts to users that have shown interest in the tweet and might be keen to buy the item. Having conducted a trial with eBay, the start-up is working with a number of unnamed UK and international retailers to roll it out.
Offering a way to tap into social conversations and make these shoppable, the tech is expected to prove popular.
Knitwear gets technical
Bringing the latest technology to the traditional knitting industry, British 3D-printed knitwear brand Unmade received backing from Farfetch founder José Neves and investor Carmen Busquets this year, enabling it to open a pop-up store in London’s Covent Garden in November.
Feeding into the growing trend for personalisation, the business allows customers to design a bespoke scarf or jumper on a computer and have it knitted for them within 24 hours. With shoppers increasingly seeking personalised items the future demand for 3D-printed products seems clear.