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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media. Fashion Industry has transitioned to becoming digital-centric. Most retailers finally sailed through the first stage in e-commerce retailing by setting up visually appealing online versions of stores, integrating payment gateways and offering efficient delivery logistics.
Over the next two years, there are several areas where technology will help ease online discovery and conversions. Technology will make it easy for consumers to go from inspiration to purchase. Customers see a lovely handbag at a party and technology will help them find it. They might like an item but can't afford it. There will be tools that can help them find something similar and economical Technology will provide answers for questions like:
Can I get real-time guidance on creating outfits from individual items?
Can we solve the eternal question of "What should I wear today"?
Can I get real-time opinions from their friends whether something suits me?
Can a fashion guru help style me every day?
Work at the intersection of fashion,science and technology is leading to some very interesting possibilities. Here is what you need to look out for-
1. Visual Search going mainstream (Find me something similar)
Computer vision as a technology is not new in fashion industry, but it is finally going mainstream with heavy weights like Macy's, Nordstrom, Target and others, using visual search in their apps and websites. Visual search uses color, shape, size and proportions to find similar items. This offers an advantage over keyword-matched search, in which results are only as good as the searcher's ability to describe an item. Retailers are experiencing increased click through and ROI's are driving rapid adoption of this technology.
2. 'Fit' becoming critical (Will this fit me well?)
Product returns are one of the issues online retailers are battling with. Tools that enable sizing will be a big trend such as augmented reality enabled Virtual fitting rooms, 3D body scanners; Software tools that compare sizes across brands, creating avatars and sizing them are some of the approaches being used by the e-commerce players.
3. Advanced machine learning becoming an integral part of fashion technology (Personalize feeds and remove clutter)
Of late the focus of fashion industry has shifted to anticipating and predicting what the shopper is looking for. And the true context can be achieved only by delving into the next frontier of technology-artificial intelligence and machine learning. Companies are moving away from using simple statistical analysis of historic data and are using AI, specifically computer vision and deep learning to study unique tastes and predict and personalize recommendations at an individual level.
4. Digital assistants styling shoppers
Wouldn't it be nice if you could have a perfect digital stylist, monitoring your closet? Suggesting what to wear based on your calendar, recommending appropriate clothes from your favorite stores? This is what we can expect to see in the near term.
5. Wearable technology
With the Apple watch leading the way, we can expect fashion accessories to double up as smart devices. These devices will track information based on your location, body temperature, body motion etc. and will take intelligent decisions based on the data processed. Some of these devices may not even need a physical interface for user interactions. There is research to make smart fabrics based apparel but that will take a few more years to get to real usage.
6. Big Data or is it My data.
Technology is changing how the fashion industry makes decisions. With real time analytics they give actionable data that many companies currently use to make purchasing and merchandizing decisions.
In 2016, we will see industry focusing on Micro aspects of Big Data. Instead of just using "those who bought this also bought this" they will explore both Meta and visual data points to make meaningful recommendations.
Information will be gathered from their posts, images liked, shopper behavior, their closets, celebs followed etc. It will be interesting to see how all this information will be digested to get meaningful insights. There are exciting times ahead for technology development in the fashion industry and we are looking forward to see it unfold.
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