Customer behaviors are shifting and evolving rapidly, forcing businesses to find ways to better align with their customers’ needs.
Along with a hunger for consumer insights comes the heightened realization of how important each and every customer touchpoint is for your brand. Even now, during a global pandemic, technology can provide new connections, disrupt industries and allow companies to create unique opportunities to reach their customers.
2021 will be all about technology acceleration. It’s the year to seriously consider doubling down on technology-driven experiences, operations, products and ecosystems. The future success of brands will depend on how efficiently they innovate and design technology-based experiences that differentiate them from the pack. Today’s economic climate has only increased the urgency for every enterprise to embrace technology as a strategic asset.
The fashion industry is a prime candidate for technology disruption, because fashion is so personal to each individual. Technology can provide new, customized touchpoints for the customer’s shopping and purchasing experience and allow brands to quickly evolve and meet the ever-changing needs and tastes of their consumers.
Technology’s Impact on Retail
When it comes to today’s retail space, we celebrate all shapes, sizes, and styles that work best. We also know the disappointing feeling of wearing styles that simply don’t work: the ill-fitting pair of jeans or the crisp, white T-shirt that’s just a hem job too short.
Consumers who still prefer in-store shopping may only be doing so for the convenience of being able to try something on. But gone are the days when a customer needs to walk into a store to guarantee a fit. The current fitting methods in the retail industry are outdated. With the shift to using online marketplaces and conducting most transactions from home, now is the perfect time to innovate the “fitting” experience.
The commerce habits of nearly every consumer drastically changed this year. The pressing need for brands to deliver a premium customer experience continues to be essential while they look to connect with consumers at home. Bringing new innovation to the retail space will allow brands to offer hyper-personalized products and experiences.
A recent Dynata study of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found that major changes in shopping are already underway, with 62 percent saying they would shop exclusively online this upcoming year — and 70 percent saying they will shop exclusively with brands that personally understand them. With this forecast and a variety of data from the right access to technology, now is the time for a new technological footprint to take shape.
Footwear Is on the Brink of Disruption
Footwear innovation hasn’t dramatically changed over the past 30 years. Retailers are making strides to improve their technology, but we should be running foot-first to embrace the potential by using technology already at our fingertips.
By tapping into the power of augmented reality and digital scanning technology using only a smartphone, there is a world of opportunity for brands — and footwear, more specifically — to capitalize on fit technology and ensure the customer has a properly fitting shoe. This type of sneaker fit tool could truly modernize the online purchase experience, providing confidence, comfort and long-term health.
I’ve seen firsthand how a company that embraces technology can innovate a process that was once clunky and out-of-date. At York Athletics, we can now measure your foot’s length, width, and, most importantly, shape with a simple photograph you take right on your mobile device using proprietary technology called the York Fit Finder. We are not alone in our endeavors — major brands like Nike are also using technology — but there is ample opportunity for others to use this same technology to create a personalized shopping experience.
While technology allows these innovations to happen, the true impact is in the data collection when using fit-type technologies to better understand customers’ interests and needs. With this type of data available at a retailer’s fingertips, a custom fit can be recommended to each and every customer, allowing them to feel confident about the size they’ll get without trying a product on before they buy.
Today, brands can make data-driven decisions on the next shoe or sweatshirt to develop because they have access to data that shows how these products may “fit” into consumer demand. Using technology, retailers can aggregate information in order to innovate products and better understand their customers’ needs. This untapped data can allow brands to alter strategies and personalize journeys to ultimately increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Footwear is the next industry ripe for disruption, but it won’t be the last. Brands must embrace technology to make data-driven decisions for product development, customer experience and more. If an industry that once used a clunky metal device as the sole understanding of “fit” can embrace technology, the future possibilities are limitless.