In The Race To The Customer: Fashion Retail Meets Big Data and Design Thinking

Not many sectors have experienced global expansion as Fashion Retail has in the last decade. With new creative strategies and an experience-heavy approach, shoppers have become accustomed to a superior shopping experience. Modern technology has enabled convenience, 24/7 customer support, and a highly personalized approach.

Online and offline, shoppers expect favorite brands to implement the latest technologies and don’t mind switching to other retailers when they notice something new is going on.

The new challenge of fashion retail brands is: How to keep customers constantly engaged and provide a completely “wrinkle-free” customer experience?

A strategy that has proven successful is behavioral targeting. But retail managers have to balance the increasing difficulty of retaining the customers and paying attention to industry trends – a task that would be impossible without modern digital solutions.

fashion retail

Fashion retail meets big data

In this race to the customer, data dictates everything: from boosting the individual’s shopping frequency to predicting upcoming trends that will hit the streets next year.

The process in which clothes are made and sold has changed significantly in the past 200 years, but shoppers still want to get that personal feeling when they shop (offline and online).

To simulate that, we must first understand their desires, make their customer journey seamless, and then, we can build systems for data collection.

It seems that the UK-based online retailer ASOS is a pioneer in this field, reportedly having the most detailed user profiles including information about interest from their Facebook profiles. This Vogue Business article also shares how the retailer used this data to promote their recent collaboration with Star Wars targeting fans of the movie series directly.

But let’s not forget that most customers still prefer to shop offline. Fashion is a highly experiential business. And other than foot traffic, offline retailers find it difficult to track customer behaviour in-store.

This is where the integration of online and offline activities becomes the obvious next step. Introducing offline clients to a multi-channel sales funnel is the only way to keep them engaged and coming back.

However, the global movement on privacy protection is going to make it more and more difficult for brands to collect data on their customers. Also, collecting data is only half of the challenge.

Data interpretation – the step that follows, is something that gives fashion retail brands a headache. The goal is not to collect as much data as possible, rather get the right data, in an ethical way, and find out what it means for the brand’s future decisions.

fashion retail

Co-creating the best solutions

It’s clear that today, fashion is a numbers game. This is no news to fashion retailers around the world, but investing in a digital transformation calls for radical decision-making. What brands need to do is conceptualize methods of data collection and subsequently, identify how they will use that data to their benefit.

The challenge that most fashion retail managers face is answering this call for innovation while dealing with the day to day tasks that are already overbearing. This process calls for a serious dose of creativity and a fresh perspective, and for that reason, fashion retail brands are joining forces with an unexpected partner: students and young professionals. 

When we started working with Magnetik Group, one of the biggest retail multi-brands in the region, it quickly became apparent that customer-centricity is crucial in retail. Customers shouldn’t feel like numbers – but in order to provide a personal approach at scale, big data needs to play an integral role. 

To bridge human nature with artificial intelligence, we enlisted the help of groups of young visionaries. Through the Design Thinking process – a guided process for empathizing with the customer and creating innovative solutions, they discovered new and fresh approaches to use data in improving the customer experience, thus increasing engagement and brand loyalty.

Our client is just one of many fashion brands that enlist the help of young individuals. The innovative Dutch brand Filling Pieces recently held a Design Thinking workshop where teams of students came up with new fresh sneaker designs.

Final thoughts

Bringing fresh eyes and creative fearlessness might be just what you need to get ahead. Also, young people are a lot more in tune with digital technology, as well as being your potential current and future consumers.

Keeping up with the competition is not easy, especially in a highly competitive field like fashion retail. Customer data is important, but creativity and empathy should always be number one. 

If you are ready to take the next step and create a unique and superior customer experience, you have to be open-minded and prepare for revolutionary changes in your business strategy. Start here, with us.

Tina Janeva

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