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Back to Blog February 28, 2019

The future of fashion retail: AI, personalisation and influencers

If there is one industry that always has its eye on the future, it’s the fashion industry. It stands to reason. This is the sector that is in the business of setting trends. These are the scene-setters – the ones that define for us what it means to have our fingers on the pulse; so, it needs to anticipate and look forward.

The future of fashion, undoubtedly, is sustainability. Capturing the mood within the sector at present is easy to do – it is a commitment to drive forward with a more ethical approach. There is a genuine desire to promote resource efficiency, minimise waste and create a circular economy. The industry’s stance reflects the public mood, which is increasingly craving transparency, a reduction of environmental impact, and a greater focus on ethics in fashion retail.

Governments, perhaps, still lag behind. Slightly behind the curve, they are yet to impose the regulation that is necessary to really move things on. But change is coming.

The growing role of Artificial Intelligence and personalisation

Change is needed too. The retail sector is a beleaguered one at the moment. It has been marred by a raft of store closures and falling footfall. The all-encompassing spectre of ‘Online Shopping’ looms large. The sector has just posted its worst Christmas in a decade.

Threat as it is, digital and tech needs to be embraced by retailers rather than feared. AI and personalisation are only going to take on a far greater role in retail in the future.

Retailers need to make informed decisions about where the next trends are emerging from. Increasingly, analytics is being employed to identify upcoming trends and to ensure that stock movements can be monitored closely, so that businesses have the right amount of product in the right place at the right time.

AI is not a risky investment, even though retailers’ budgets are tighter than they have ever been. Using tech that improves efficiency is not a risk: making decisions based on gut instinct most definitely is, and it’s this that can lead to highly costly underbuying or overbuying.

In short, retailers need to embrace data to make smart, informed decisions. Technology can also be used to optimise the production process. It is now possible to drastically reduce the time needed through end-to-end personalisation. In fact, an automation solution can cut down the time needed to process a production order from a few hours to a matter of seconds.

The future of the influencer

The role of the influencer in fashion retail is bound to grow greater still in the years to come. However, it is a role that is predicted to change and evolve. Brands are currently very keen to work with people from the LGBT community. A greater sense of gender equality and democracy will develop in the future. Furthermore, it’s likely that there will be a continued focus on body positivity, following the lead set in France with the ban on photoshopping of images of models in magazines. Influencers will be sought in a more inclusive and representative way, embracing and reflecting the fact that around 15% of the world’s population has some form of physical or mental disability.

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