What will retail become in the future? Retail industry leaders such as H&M and Guess will gather on January 23rd to discuss this in Hong Kong, at this year’s edition of the Retail Cutting Edge conference. The conference will revolve around the four themes retail for the next decade, blockchain in retail, global change pain points and AR and VR. Within these themes they will explore for instance how blockchain can be used to prove product authenticity, how the demand for sustainability changes the way brands interact with customers and how AR and VR can make the transition from gimmicky to mainstream in the retail space. Read more at https://live.insideretail.hk/.
There’s apparently a gap between what customers want from retailers, and what retailers plan to give them. At least according to a research report made by Swedish payment solution company Klarna, and based on research from 50 retail decision makers and 2 000 shoppers. The report shows that the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality solutions retailers want to invest in, would actually be rejected by 4 in 5 shoppers.
But does that mean retailers are completely wrong about investing in shopping related tech? Not necessarily.
We have to take into account the fact that a lot of these technologies are still in very early stages, as I have adressed here and here in the past couple of days. They are new to most consumers and not always that easy and smooth to use either. Tech like VR for instance, requires certain equipment that is still quite expensive. Of course a lot of consumers are going to reject anything that just seems tricky to use.
However, things change fast.
Expensive tech tends to get cheaper, hard to use solutions tend to get more user friendly over time.
So what do the consumers actually want then, according to this research? Well, most of them think online shopping is more convenient, but agree that brick and mortar stores offer a human touch that can’t be recreated online. About one fifth of them are positive to both VR and AR solutions such as smart mirrors/changing rooms and using VR headsets.
But on top of the shoppers list is simply to find the right fit. A task that is probably harder than ever for consumers with different brands having different sizing systems.
There’s a window of opportunity here: But it needs to be in a way that shoppers find accessible.
American retail corporation Walmart recently filed two patents, suggesting they will launch a Virtual Reality shopping experience sometime in the future, The Current Daily reports. The patent was accompanied with a detailed plan of a virtual showroom where customers, with the help of sensor-enabled gloves, could browse and experience products and thereby actually to feel what they are like.
So, is VR the way to go in retail? Well, there is definitely a lot of talk about it.
Walmart already acquired VR startup Spatialand in February. Meanwhile, internet giants Alibaba and Amazon respectively, have both launched their own VR experiences. Last year, Alibaba launched the retail experience Single’s Day at department store Macy’s, while Amazon recently set up 10 VR kiosks in India to promote a shopping event.
The question is, what’s in it for the consumer?
Apart from the potentially cool experience, it still remains a problem that VR headsets are very expensive at the same time as they get old very fast, because of the rapid evolvement of the VR tech.
The pro’s and con’s of this tech and its place in VR is actually the topic of discussion in the first episode of The Current Debate, a new feature on The Current Innovator’s podcast, by Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur. Listen to the episode here.
As you know, the new year is already upon us, but for us tech nerds the real new year’s celebrations are still a few days away: On Tuesday, January 9, the annual Consumer Electronics Show 2018 is kicking off and we’re all anticipating what’s next in the world of AI, VR, AR, robotics, wearable tech and all that. I for one, am going to keep an extra eye open for the Fashionware Show, that will showcase high tech textiles, experimental fashion, VR and AR fashion experiences, AI Stylists and much, much more.
And of course there’s the Wearable Technology Summit, where experts from ELLE, Heisel, Fossil Group and Ashley Chloe is going to discuss how wearables are moving from geeky to fashion-forward. Still a much needed step if you ask me…
A host of other interesting brands and people are also making appearances, such as Dr Amanda Parkes from Fashion Tech Lab, speaking about textiles of the future and ELLE USA:s fashion tech editor Jenna Blaha, speaking about the wearable as a fashion statement. Stay tuned!
Yes! Time for me to go west and speak about the wonderful world of Fashion Tech at #FashionTech Gbg! This event is special to me as it reaches out to young girls and women who might be entering the world of tech in the future. Hopefully I can offer some inspiration in the intersection between tech and fashion.
Springtime in Stockholm and I’m really looking forward to tonight’s panel discussion at Stockholm PR Agency Text100! There I will be joining a host of other fashion tech people to talk about what is happening in this field at the moment and what might be in store for the future. Stay tuned!
There hasn’t been much reporting from this swamped in work-blogger the last couple of days, but now I’m back! So, let’s round up the past week so far: Fashion Week in Stockholm happened, and I was there to witness talented designer Naim Josefi showing his aw17 collection covered in high tech steel sequins made with able assistance from Swedish 3D print jewelry brand Lumitoro. Meanwhile, Magazine Bon and Studio Bon assembled a group of experts to talk about the future of virtual reality in fashion, while Swedish Fashion Council launched the book ”Sista skriket” by Emma Veronica Johansson och Philip Warkander. This is basically a letter exchange between the two authors about the complexity of fashion, for instance the role of fashion in a digital age.
As always, I was hoping for more tech influence during fashion week but, as we say in Swedish, let’s ”hurry slowly”. These things need to happen organically and can’t be forced. Designers and tech companies need to find each other based on a genuine interest in each other and the in the genuine wish to create solutions to actual problems, rather than just keeping up with the latest trend, for anything good and truly innovative to happen. Luckily, there seem to be a lot of exciting things happening in this field in Sweden right now, so I guess we’ll just wait and see.
Photo credit: Stil & Teknik