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Digital Forum: Think big but start small with technology innovations

Retailers have been encouraged to try the latest digital technology but to exercise caution before committing financially.

Speaking at the Drapers Digital Forum today (February 25) Will Young, director of US based online fashion retailer Zappos Labs, said the latest technology trends including 3D printing and social commerce could be valuable to businesses of all size, but said it was essential to ensure there is appetite for the service before investing. The same was true of utilising new technology to venture into new fields within the current business.

“It’s important to start small and to test the water to see if you can validate demand before diving in. It’s hard to know what to focus on but you should start simple,” he said.

“Trends can be scary but you should try it. If you have always sold womenswear, for example ,crowdfunding is a great way to dip your toes into the men’s market, to see if you can build interest from shoppers. Just because you have a bricks and mortar store or an ecommerce site doesn’t mean you can’t try new things.”

Within algorithm-based shopping - in which customer data is used to select products for shoppers - Young said retailers could try out manual versions before committing to a large financial investment.

He said: “Speak to your customers. Ask them what they need help with and do it manually, over the phone or via email. Don’t spend too much time or money doing something unless you’re sure you need it.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Better still, consider sharing logistics with your competitors. Customers won't mind as long as their service is improved.

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