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Tomorrow’s world

Etail has come a long way in the past decade, but industry experts believe the customer experience will get even more slick and sophisticated over the next few years

Sarah Curran

Chief executive at My-Wardrobe

As businesses catch up to the speed of technology, a 3-D shopping experience will become widespread as everything from computers to TVs evolve with the introduction of 3-D screens. Avatars will revolutionise how customers browse and shop, as they’ll be able to view their virtual selves wearing their chosen items before they buy. Customers will be able to upload their vital stats and see which size fits. This will also reduce the rate of returns.

Xin He

Head of clothes, shoes and accessories at eBay Europe

The coming decade will see the maturing of mobile and social shopping trends. The eBay mobile application has already been downloaded seven million times and British shoppers make a purchase via a mobile every 12 seconds. Something like 23 million Britons are on Facebook, so it’s little wonder that an activity which integrates the power of ecommerce and the potential of social networks is likely to be a key trend in the coming decade.

Frank Lord

Vice president Europe, the Middle East and Africa at etail software provider ATG

Cross-channel shopping will be the major trend in the next five years. This takes us beyond the multi-channel requirement for every retailer to operate a store, an interactive website and an ecommerce application. For example, you start by browsing for a dress on your iPhone, visit the store to try it on in your lunch hour, then check prices on your PC at work, and finally order from home on your laptop. Progressive retailers will integrate all these touch points and technology will be key to this.

Doug Gurr

Executive director at Asda

A powerful future trend will be co-creation, where the online channel will give customers the chance to customise or at least personalise products, such as Nike does. Customers will tell retailers what they want, and we’ll have to respond. For George at Asda we predict far more electronic sales being picked up by shoppers in store - having been ordered on the e-catalogue at home or at a kiosk in store.

Dave Lomax

Owner of menswear indie Bagga

Brands need to take a close look at how they plan to sell online in the long term as there is a danger of them being diluted through discounting and selling irresponsibly via too many outlets and affiliate sites. Some brands - Elvis Jesus is a good example - are carefully controlling where product is sold online to protect brand integrity. Fashion is about exclusivity and although the web offers many opportunities, brands should tread carefully over the next decade and carefully consider their pricing and distribution strategies.

James Brooke

Director of interactive merchandising provider 10CMS

Interactive merchandising has a huge role to play in the future of ecommerce, revolutionising everything from the way sites look to how users navigate around them. Hotspots - interactive dots on product images - allow shoppers to click straight to buy, and a ‘buy the look’ option allows you to buy a whole outfit. By engaging customers with aspirational product media and shortening the customer journey, fashion etailers are starting to address the issue of basket abandonment. Video will be more widely used too. The trick will be to neatly embed merchandising data and ‘buy now’ functionality into video as both a navigational and transactional tool.

Max Childs

Europe, Middle East and Africa marketing manager at cross-media solutions provider Adobe Scene 7

The use of rich content will increase dramatically in fashion etail, as broadband gets faster. Zoom and rotate functionality and video footage are already here, but the next stage will be making the video interactive so you can click to rotate and enlarge images of the items you like or create your own show of favourite pieces. On US retailer JC Penney’s site you can already pause catwalk footage and look at the outfits at your own pace. I’m certain that in 15 years’ time we’ll be able to see a dress worn to the Oscars on news footage, or watch it back on the equivalent of BBC iPlayer, and be able to click straight through to purchase it.

Sarah Hughes

Joint managing director of web design agency BT Fresca

Mobile commerce will change the face of fashion shopping in the next decade. While the launch of the iPad has created great excitement around the possibilities of shopping on the move, it will be the next generation of mobile devices that really takes us forward. At the moment there’s a customer experience gap in terms of shopping comfortably on an iPad, but Apple and its competitors will be working hard to overcome speed and usability issues. Viewing catwalk footage and zooming in on product isn’t possible on these devices yet, but it will come and lightweight mobile devices will become an integral part of family life for quick browsing, price and availability checking and instant shopping.

Stephen Hampson

Sales and marketing director at web design and strategy firm e-Inbusiness

Integrated social commerce will shape online fashion in the future. Friends will connect and co-browse online, discussing what they like and what looks good, and giving each other feedback before purchasing. 3-D modelling will also become more widely used. Sears is using it in the US, allowing customers to pick an outfit and see it modelled in 3-D on a virtual model of their size. In future years, we might be able to have full visualisations of us wearing a dress at a party, on the beach or any setting we like.

Mark Hodson

Marketing director at online payment service PayPal UK

Customisation and consolidation will be key. Sites such as Facebook and Tesco are opening up their technology platforms which increasingly means customers will be able to add their own content and tools. The days of having multiple browser windows open at one time will soon be over - people will gauge friends’ recommendations, browse for an item, and make a purchase without having to leave their social networking site. Technology will allow brands to use variables such as GPS location, the customer’s profile, and the size and scope of their friend network to tailor the experience.

Ken McCall

Chief executive, DHL Express International UK

To really get growth from online sales, retailers will need to focus on the key global export markets and expand their reach into Europe as well as countries like Japan. Therefore, delivery solutions that are both cost-conscious for buyer and seller, and time-sensitive to meet demand from international customers, will be critical.

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