The Times Report: Data-Driven Personalization

Will hyper-personalisation shrink our echo chambers and interest bubbles? Will TV soon have personalised ads?

The Personalisation special report, published in The Times, explores the pros and cons of retailers using artificial intelligence to recommend products and outfits online and looks at how so-called “dark patterns” are manipulating consumers. The featured infographic focuses on data-driven personalisation and how delivering custom experiences to individual consumers, based on their behaviours, requires both huge volumes of quality data and the right strategy to ensure success and return on investment.

IN THIS REPORT:

  1. What does personalization really mean?
  2. Your personalization strategy needs a shake-up
  3. The benefits of personalization in the workplace
  4. Addressable TV: the pros and cons of ads made just for you
  5. The AI Stylist
  6. What are dark patterns and how are they tricking you?
  7. What does personalisation 2.0 look like?

Download the FREE report for more information.

Blockchain, A.I. and Other Game-Changing Fashion Technology in 2020

This article has been updated for the latest developments in fashion technology as of 2020 and was first published in May 2019

The world’s most significant and profitable industries are facing massive changes thanks to advances in technology. More specifically, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), new types of financial transactions and a number of other big leaps in tech are responsible for these ongoing changes to how most industries do business.

Focusing on the fashion industry in particular, these are some of the technology we expect to transform businesses on both online retail and in-store operations.

fashion technology blockchain

 

Blockchain Will Fight Counterfeit Products & Streamline The Fashion Supply Chain

The distributed ledger technology called blockchain is mostly known for being the foundational tech behind cryptocurrency. More generally, a blockchain is basically a string of chronologically arranged code. Each new block of code on the chain requires every computer with access to the blockchain to approve the addition of that data via a shared cryptographic solution, which translates to peer-verified security in every data transfer, addition or modification. It all happens nearly instantaneously, without any of the red tape commonly attached to security protocols. And this same technology can be used to protect products and ensure quality in the fashion industry.

Label Tags Will Redefine Origin and Ownership

Each individual fashion item can be tagged with labels attached to blockchains, which allows everyone in the supply chain to verify its origin, ownership and every time it has changed hands. The LuxTag Project took to Medium to detail how some fashion designers are already taking advantage of this potentially revolutionary technology as a product integrity solution. Back in 2017, Londoner Martine Jarlgaard produced the first smart label-tagged garments. Scanning the tags gave users time-stamped info on everything about the garments – from raw material acquisition and factory information down to how the finished products were packaged and delivered. Similarly, fashion retailer Babyghost used near-field communication (NFC) chips to tag its 2017 summer and spring collection. This allowed customers to use the NFC tags to find out everything they wanted and needed to know about every Babyghost product.

Supply Chain Transparency

Apart from ensuring product integrity, this can also push fashion labels to be more honest about where they get their raw materials, how they conduct labor practices and everything else customers in 2020 (and beyond) will be concerned about. Essentially, information sharing and supply chain transparency are about to become realities in the global fashion industry. This technology is a potentially huge boon to managing the fashion supply chain, the fight against counterfeit goods, and corporate social responsibility.

 

Competitive Payment Options Will Dictate Retail Preferences

In recent years, payment platforms such as Paypal, Amazon Pay, Payoneer, Venmo and Dwolla have played increasingly large roles not just in online retail, but in various other spaces such as vacation rentals, gaming and service industries. The reason is simple: these payment options offer the convenience and security that some more traditional methods lack. By and large, newer, more innovative payment platforms are now making things even easier for both customers and product and service providers.

A payment technology that has already changed the way customers shop is the buy-now-pay-later services that allow customers to buy a product today and pay for it later. Klarna is one of the service providers at the forefront of this technology in the fashion industry.

Another example is the service called Paysafe Pay Later allowing customers to delay payment until after their ordered products have been shipped, all in a way that doesn’t impact the company’s cash flow. A New Zealand-based gaming company details how online casinos now use the Paysafecard, which is similar but slightly faster than using VISA and other debit/credit cards. Independent of bank, card or other personal financial information, Paysafe instead relies on a single, 16-digit pin to credit money to a customer’s account and verify transactions. It’s currently seeing heavy use in gaming and retail – two of the biggest revenue sources on the web. And it’s just one example of a new payment service that could prove to be a deciding factor in how customers choose which fashion retailers to shop from in the future.

fashion technology smart mirror

Nobal’s smart mirror solution for fitting rooms

 

Artificial Intelligence Will Change Everything

There are several reasons why Intelistyle cannot help but cover how AI will change the face of retail. For one thing, AI algorithms are responsible for well-informed and relevant product suggestions for online retail customers. For another, AI can be used to predict trends and product demand, allowing retailers to be better at managing inventory and catering to customers’ needs.

Though they may seem simple, even those small perks can help retailers avoid serious problems – such as the massive surplus Under Armour faced in 2018 when it overestimated product demand and wound up $1.3 billion the hole! And even this is only scratching the surface of the benefits A.I. can provide to retailers.

When integrated into a chatbot, AI can help fashion retailers scale their personal styling services and improve their omnichannel customer service experience.

Examples could go on and on, but even the relatively brief write-ups above provide a picture of how a small handful of tech innovations can and will revolutionize the fashion retail business.

Clothing Rental Market In The Era of Sustainable Fashion

This article has been updated for the latest developments in the fashion rental market & sustainable fashion in 2020 and was first published in November 2018.

 

The Fashion Rental Market in 2020

Peer-to-peer lending is not a new idea, it has always been an integral part of our wardrobe crisis solutions. What’s different in 2020 is the scope and scale of “borrowing” clothes and the impact this new market has on sustainable fashion.

Over the last few years, the fashion rental market has seen tremendous growth both in popularity as a consumer trend and as a business model.

The core reason for this expanding demand from both established fashion retailers and conscious consumers is the perception of rental as a more sustainable and circular consumption option to fast fashion while offering a budget-friendly route to an infinite wardrobe. According to industry estimations, half of fast fashion is disposed of within only a year.

2019 saw fashion brands and retailers up their game in taking more responsibility for their environmental and social impact by launching ambitious sustainable fashion initiatives. And the rental market fits in perfectly with a more responsible and sustainable fashion industry that has reduced waste output.

In 2020, the rental fashion concept pioneered by Rent the Runway and adopted by niche platforms is hitting the mainstream with global retailers – even fast fashion giants such as H&M – launching rental lines.

 

Steps Towards A Sustainable Fashion Industry

While the growth of the rental and second-hand markets are very promising steps for a circular industry, there will always be consumers who won’t jump on this train where ‘new in’ is never new. Add the carbon footprint of sending, returning and dry cleaning those rented goods to the equation and some industry experts believe rental fashion isn’t enough to address concerns around sustainability as a one-stop solution.

This is exactly why fashion retailers need to get better at demand prediction, assortment mix planning, and personalised offerings so that one of the biggest barriers between our industry today and a more sustainable future – overproduction and stock waste – can be tackled at the root. Retailers who know exactly what demand looks like in real-time and effectively match the right products to the right customers will organically reduce stock waste, benefitting both their business and the environment.

 

Fast fashion has tried to answer women’s pain to renew their closet often, by overproducing bad quality apparel… says Nadia Khattab founder of La Garde-Robe, an online clothing rental business for women.

Talk to us about your latest venture and what excites you about it?

In October, we were finalists of the Mass Challenge 2018 accelerator program in Switzerland and we ended up the 10th top start-up of the cohort. A very encouraging result and promising for the future. We are sponsoring several events in Switzerland this year and we are developing our pop-up strategy. Unfortunately, we can’t share more details for now. Stay tuned.

 

What is the profile of your customers and how do you see that developing?

Our average customer is 32 years old. She works quite hard and even if she doesn’t, she has a busy life with kids and family. Time for her is value. She likes to try new styles and loves to discover new designers and brands. She has a couple of events in a year’s time related to work, weddings and parties for which she is really happy to rent an outfit. Sometimes, she decides to drop her closet at La Garde-Robe LGR and enjoy the concept of making another woman happy.

sustainable rental fashion market

How do you think fast fashion has impacted the clothing rental market and what does a sustainable fashion industry look like?

Fast fashion has tried to answer women’s need to renew their closet often, by overproducing bad quality apparel, with a designer look-alike style but at the cost of the ecosystem. The user experience, in the long run, is bad because people understand more and more about the environmental impact (Burberry & H&M scandals).

Our customers are just getting annoyed about it. They look for alternative and less harmful solutions. The rental market satisfies the pain of renewal, matches the fast-fashion price point and is sustainable. The cherry on top of the cake is it helps promote emerging designers and new brands.

 

How do you see the future of the clothing rental market?

In the US, the rental market represents 1% of women’s wardrobe. We are not there in Europe but I believe it is reachable within the next 5 years.

I see new rental businesses growing every day like mushrooms which is really amazing. It is just answering to people’s needs.

 

What are the hottest initiatives in sustainable fashion right now?

The fashion revolution: it is a global movement that runs all year long born after the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. They launch impact campaigns like #whomademyclothes last year.

 

What are the biggest trends in the fashion industry that retailers should keep an eye on right now and why?

Trends come from customers. For example, body dictates are weaker than ever. You see it by just looking at plus-size Instagrammers becoming super-stars on social media.

The market is giving direct feedback to brands. The fashion industry needs to adapt its sizing and create more alternatives to the average regular fit. I think it is a huge market. When we launched LGR we received so many calls from women struggling to find a dress that fits them right.

sustainable and body positive fashion

Which one habit makes you more a productive business leader?

I put myself in my customer’s shoes. I create scenarios like: I have a one hour break to find a dress for my date tonight… After one hour of getting lost in the crowd of high street shops, I realise you can’t find anything really great for a decent budget. Except if your understanding of a decent budget is upwards of a few hundred. But those women are not our market…

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