Over the past few months, the fashion industry has been grappling with the challenges brought on by the pandemic. We took time out to talk with Style.me President, Rufus Parkinson, about how companies are adapting to this situation.
How do you see fashion and technology transforming in the immediate future?
We had already been observing an increase in the fashion industry’s adoption of new technology in the 9 months prior to the pandemic. This trend has significantly accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis, as e-commerce moved to the forefront. I recently saw that Shopify estimates e-commerce participation has increased from 15% to 25% over the past 3 months! Retailers are actively seeking solutions that can maximize online sales, within this we see personalization as a strong theme in improving the user experience.
Is the transformation only online, or do you see any store initiatives?
The initiatives are across channels. Retail stores were obviously impacted greatest by the lockdown and now as stores gradually open up they are having to deal with a new way of interacting with shoppers. In many cases, fitting rooms are closed or customers are unwilling to use them. This in turn increases the onus on delivering a great service experience to overcome these obstacles. We have seen a spike in interest for our virtual fitting room solution to be used in-store to provide personalized fit recommendations at the point of sale and in a contactless manner.
What would be the benefits for retailers adopting sizing/styling solutions?
Fit has long been a challenge online. By bringing the physical try-on and buy experience to our partners’ e-commerce stores they are seeing significant improvements in key metrics, starting with engagement and conversions. Additionally, through both accurate fit and visualization, we are helping our clients reduce returns and improve their customer satisfaction. When you add on the in-store use case, the solution becomes even more compelling.
What are the greatest challenges in delivering accurate fit?
We have learned from our interactions with both retailers and consumers, that shoppers return clothing for 2 main reasons. Firstly, if the fit is wrong and secondly, they may think it just doesn’t look good on them. We made these 2 factors central to our solution. Detailed visualization of the fit and viewing how it looks on your body is critical, as well as providing an engaging experience.
Given the new economic environment, do you see retailers continuing to invest in innovative technologies? Are you confident about the future outlook?
I started my career in chain retail and am acutely aware that retailers are extremely focused on margin and the return on investment they will get from any initiative such as new technology. In order to create a win-win, the key is for solution providers to clearly demonstrate ROI, and ensure pricing is fair and accessible. To this point, we are very confident of our delivery and ‘value add’ across both smaller and large scale clients. This, combined with the increasing consumer demand for such innovations, makes us very positive about future opportunities!
Here’s how you’ll be safely shopping for clothes as stores begin to reopen