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Innovation in fashion

A new report by Drapers examines how businesses are devising fresh strategies to tackle tough trading and keep customers engaged.

The fashion sector’s embrace of forward-thinking business strategies and new technologies comes as retailers and brands look to meet the ever-increasing desires of tech-savvy consumers. To do this, fashion retailers are looking for ways to innovate, employing new technologies both in store to boost sales and behind the scenes to improve internal operations and efficiencies – all of which requires considerable investment when conditions are tough on the high street.

In response to this trend, we’ve launched the Drapers Innovation in Fashion Report to analyse what businesses are doing to keep up with or stay ahead of the competition. We kicked off with a survey of our readers on, which unearthed some compelling findings. Following the survey, we ran a roundtable in association with our sponsors – integrated technology business Lectra and mobile payment technology company Mobile Money Network – to talk through the results with a group of fashion  professionals from both retailers and brands.

The results of our survey prove that fashion businesses embrace innovation on a strategic level and/or on a technical front, as 95% of respondents claim to be forward-looking. These positive attitudes have emerged as the sector undergoes huge change.

However, opinion was mixed as to what has sparked the most significant change in the past two years. Just over half (52%) believe online shopping has had the biggest impact on the industry, while the rest of the respondents cite global expansion, the rise of the multichannel consumer, and the in-store experience.

The survey also found that with social media gaining real traction among consumers, fashion retailers are looking to leverage the medium to improve engagement and gain customer insight. While international is high on the agenda, partnering with an established retailer in the region is the tactic of choice.

Reflecting these findings, the report explores approaches to social media for customer relationship management, brand engagement and marketing. It also looks at the strategies for international growth of businesses such as Asos and Debenhams and in-store innovations by Aurora Fashions and Selfridges.

We also take a look behind the scenes to see how staff are learning to use new technology at Burberry and House of Fraser, as well as how retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Warehouse are approaching the product lifecycle in a bid to improve speed to market.

Most of all, this report outlines how retailers and brands fully understand the importance of innovation by highlighting the best examples of how businesses are enhancing the customer experience, generating new streams of revenue and improving internal operations.

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