Part 1: Fashion is Disconnected
That might sound like a ridiculous thing to say because on the surface it’s anything but. Tech-savvy consumers have more product choice, across more connected channels than ever. Shoppers can browse complete catalogues online, try on in augmented reality, and have their chosen styles delivered by a drone the same day. And tiny, hyper-cool brands with big ambitions have the mother of all head-starts thanks to social media outreach, user-friendly e-commerce platforms, and cloud-based creative tools they can pay for in manageable monthly instalments.
But things aren’t always so seamless behind the scenes. Away from the glamour, a generation of digital-native shoppers is being served by traditional, analogue supply chains and manual merchandising processes that are approaching breaking point. For every consumer with their finger on the pulse of price and international trend, there’s a brand making important decisions blind, due to a lack of consistent information, and an inability to collaborate – in-house or out. For every retailer struggling to respond to changes in the market, there’s a supplier who saw the trend coming and was agile enough to produce their own collection to capitalise on it.
As the author and futurist William Gibson once said, “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” Or to put it more bluntly: the people who design and bring fashion to market are often worse-equipped, technologically speaking than the people who buy and manufacture it. And that creates some serious challenges, which we’ll look at shortly.
For now, though, it seems like there should be a simple solution, right? Brands and retailers just need to catch up, find the right technological support, and ‘go digital,’ so they can meet demand head-on.
If only it were that easy. As anyone who’s worked on the business end of fashion knows, the pace is constant, making it difficult for any brand or retailer to take time out to properly re-tool their processes. At the same time, competition is fierce in both the open consumer market and for the small pool of suppliers who can meet modern ethical and environmental standards as well as deliver quality products within tight lead times.
These are hardly ideal situations to sit back and start shortlisting software. And to make matters worse, the general retail downturn has everyone with a high-street presence feeling justifiably shaky about any large-scale capital expenditure on software or infrastructure. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Contuine reading our full Whitepaper by clicking here or wait for the next instalment coming out next week 6th November 2018.