We get a ripple of excitement when we think about how the explosion of technology has been transforming the way we shop.
This global guilty pleasure is evolving at a faster rate than ever before. Not only do we have a mental tick list that can involve questions like is it eco-friendly? How was it made? Where was it made? Does it actually fulfill my needs? And will it be a healthy addition to my lifestyle? We are also demanding that what we buy is made available to us in just a couple of keystrokes.
Although many still confuse the two, Retail Tech has been growing alongside Fashion Tech industry for a while now. It is an industry that has gained momentum and has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. This is a growth that has meant that the once relied on human interaction at brick and mortar stores is no longer a must for many shoppers today. There is now a higher preference to shop from the comfort of one’s own home, although there are still those who venture out, preferring the ‘in and out’ interaction of ordering their products through technology tools, i.e. iPad, available in-store.
The change in shopping habits could be ‘blamed’ on early adopters of retail tech, like Net-a-porter and Burberry, who fearlessly took hold of the retail tech revolution. It was their foresight that ‘forced’ many other high street brands and some luxury labels to move with the times. By adapting to the convenience of technology, these brands did not only end up ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ but they were also able to be in a position where they offered their customers a ‘stress-free’ online and offline shopping experience.
As Retail Tech continues to grow, some high street brands are starting to accept that consumers are slowly evolving away from traditional in-store and catalogue shopping. With regards to change within luxury labels, Jose Neves, founder of Farfetch shared recently at #TCDisrupt that “94% of luxury goods are still sold in brick and mortar stores”. It seems, for the moment, that luxury retailers are going to continue hold onto the more traditional shopping methods. The same cannot be said for high street brands that are busy curtailing to the modern-day shopper, who demands the ability to order their goods via mobile and desktop all the while tweeting their experience.
Nowadays the fashion forward shopper does not tolerate failure and wants the retailers to provide them with a seamless fuss free shopping experience. Nowadays, there is an expectation for brands to run an efficient e-commerce operation alongside their bricks and mortar stores. It is this pressure on retailers that has left me wondering, are we asking too much? I do not think so. Many customers appreciate companies like Apple who are allow us to pay for our purchases and walk out of the store without having to talk to anyone. Human interaction is no longer a prerequisite, it is nice but not necessary.
With Technology giving retailers the opportunity to be their very best, many do not realise that the advancement is also giving consumers a powerful tool that they can use to encourage brands to become more responsive to their needs. For forward thinking shoppers, it is no longer acceptable for a store to simply stock their shelves with desirable goods. Consumers now expect brands to stay ahead of their game by being early adopters of technological developments in retail tech. By doing so they will be able to create a friction-free world that will give consumers a seamless experience across different shopping channels.
So how can retailers take advantage of the retail tech boom? They need to acknowledge that the explosion of technology will continue to transform the way consumers shop, and in order for retailers to take advantage of this the industry needs to support brands so they are ready for the future of retail. It is also the responsibility of retailers to structure their businesses in a way that ensures that shopping for their customers is an easy and enjoyable experience through every channel. Those who get it right will reap the rewards, those who do not could face oblivion.