Every year, the fashion world descends on the red carpet of the Met Gala. The event is where celebrities, designers, and models don their boldest gowns aligning to this year’s theme “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.”
These two industries sit at seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum. Luxury fashion is usually marketed based on their heritage: quality, craftsmanship, and lionized founders.
IoT, on the other hand, represents the future. As the industry moves from a fragmented reality towards an increasingly connected network, brands will have at their disposal a trove of data about their customers, consumer values, and purchasing behavior.
The clear, definitive collaboration between Hermés and Apple Watch signified a shift in the haute couture sector. Last week Moschino live-streamed its fashion show in Virtual Reality.
The brand gave autographed cardboard headsets to 50 lucky customers in their LA and New York stores. Dior and other brands have already begun offering VR experiences in their stores.
How can luxury brands strike a balance between relevance in today’s information era and delivering an exclusive, premium experience?
Deluge of data for retailers
In our mobile commerce white paper, we analyzed millions of data touchpoints that really emphasized that brands need to be not only omnichannel but omnipresent.
Rather than be intrusive, brands recognize that customers interact with your brand in different ways and in different situations. Brands have the opportunity to present at the right moment at the right time.
Case in point: Sephora store on Rue Rivoli
It’s no secret that the when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products, there is a lot of value in social proof. Many bloggers and online personalities gained fame from video reviews and product hauls.
Sephora noticed in the stores that customers were reading about products on their mobile phones. They took it as an opportunity to engage the customer by helping them make an informed decision.
Last autumn, they opened their first connected store, Sephora Flash. It uses NFC (Near-Field Communication) tags to display information on tablets and add products to your digital cart.
At 100 square meters, the store does not have the kind of inventory that the standard Sephora is accustomed to. But that’s not the point.
The customer is able to add to their physical cart or their digital cart. Customers can also order online and arrange for pickup at the Flash Store.
Sephora clearly understands their customers on a deeper level: always connected, always on the go.
When you open a website of an international retailer, you are likely to view the website based on your current location.
As iBeacon technology becomes more advanced, so will the opportunities to wow and delight your customers. Geolocalized offers delivered at the right moment once the customer enters the store’s vicinity. What if the store was equipped to adjust lighting for items that are suited for you as you walked by?
Merchandising analytics isn’t necessarily new. Many grocery stores and big box retailers use electronic shelf labels to optimize their pricing and inventory mix. Sensors that record if an item has been picked up has been used by hotels to charge for water bottles and can be used to record how many times an item has been picked up.
OakLabs produced a digital, smart mirror. Equipped with a RFID reader, it lets you know which items you have and offer the ability to request a different size or color without leaving the dressing room. It also offers recommendations based on the items you try on and allows you to send a summary of the items you tried on to your phone via SMS.
Bob Amster of Retail Tech Group asserts that by implementing the RFID tags during the manufacturing process reduces the implementation costs and dramatically transforms the capabilities needed for inventory management.
Digital White-Gloved Service
Coco Chanel and Louis Vuitton gained prominence because their personalized attention to detail from their ateliers. Brands can bring this detailed customer service into the modern era by embracing the technology that is available.
What’s the use of all this data if it isn’t even being used properly?
The on-demand industry has shifted customer service expectations and even commoditized certain services that are usually associated with the wealthy, such as a private driver (Uber) and concierge (Postmates).
IoT has the potential to impact design in the manufacturing process with personalization and customization made possible through 3D printing.
The customer purchase journey is longer in the luxury sector with different levels of purchasing intent and data touchpoints. This data enables brands to deliver a tailored, superior service to its customers.
Case in point: Everlane
One brand that is redefining the retail experience in the modern era is San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer retailer, Everlane. In many ways, they operate only online, are transparent about their supply chain, and socially-conscious values. The online retailer took a cue from its Silicon Valley neighbors by doing product launches rather than stick to the typical seasonal cycle.
They stayed ahead of the curve with their messenger bot. In the past, they also appealed to their young, urban, and professional audience and offered same-day delivery (in collaboration with Postmates) in San Francisco and New York City.
Although it is not a luxury brand in a conventional sense, with their no-nonsense modern take on everyday basics, the level of service that they provide to customers drives loyalty by giving them a unique shopping experience.
Even without a physical store, Everlane built a powerful, customer-centric experience, which impacted the consumer’s perception of the Everlane brand and its service.
There are countless studies on how digital is a mainstay of the luxury shopping experience. Luxury purchases serving as social currency are amplified with social media’s permanence.
Digital transformation can be a profound transformation for any company. For the luxury sector and retail as a whole to stay afloat and relevant in today’s information age, brands need to meet the needs of their customers. Combining their knowledge of their audience with the appropriate technologies will create a considerable competitive advantage for modern day retailers.
What are the ways that your brand is thinking about IoT, Tweet us @ContentSquareUK
Cover photo original by Scott Webb