The fashion industry is experiencing a transformative shift. According to The McKinsey Global Fashion Index, between now and 2025, the majority of the fastest-growing fashion markets will be in emerging market nations, including Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenzen, and Delhi.
For APAC retailers, the term “fashion forward” has taken on new meaning as well, with companies embracing disruptive technologies to lead the charge to cashless, custom, and convenient shopping experiences both online and in-store.
Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends in Retail report shows that customer experience (CX) is a top priority for retailers as part of an omnichannel approach. And the latest trend in retail is the blending of the physical and digital to create an optimal experience. Let’s take a look at the new face of fashion in APAC.
Made To Order
A world without standard sizes was Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s dream. The founder of Zozo, one of Japan’s leading fashion e-commerce destinations, created a revolutionary clothes-buying system that far exceeds the mere convenience of online shopping and home delivery.
Here’s how it works: Customers first order a Zozosuit, a bodysuit made for creating accurate 3D measurements. Wearing the Zozosuit, they then use a smartphone app to take photos of themselves, which are used to create a 3D rendering of their bodies. The resulting measurements are then recorded against the customers' in-app profile so they can order reasonably priced, made-to-fit clothing from the collection and have it delivered directly to their doors. That means perfect-fit jeans without trying on endless pairs in a changeroom.
While there has been in-store applications of 3D body scanning, Zozo has brought this tech into the home. The company now ships to almost 30 countries, with its innovation poised to become a global game-changer.
Offline And Unmanned
Much like the film industry, which in response to streaming services started coming up with ways to enhance cinema experience, state-of-the-art retailers are offering tech-savvy consumers next-level experiences as an incentive to drive them in store.
China’s largest retailer, JD, has built a reputation for pushing the envelope. It was among the first to experiment with drone delivery and is now flexing its AI capabilities by opening unmanned stores in Beijing and Jakarta named JD.ID X.
Selling clothes, beauty products, and groceries, the unmanned stores utilise cutting-edge AI and facial-recognition technology to provide a seamless and transactionless experience for customers. When entering the store, customers scan a QR code downloaded through the JD app. From there, ceiling cameras use facial-recognition technology to identify customers, as well as image recognition and heat mapping to track their movements and item selections throughout the store. Customers can try on an item of clothing and simply walk out of the store wearing it—no need to get on a line to pay.
Business Insider explains that the technology allows JD to note customers’ preferences and learn how its inventory moves. With this data, retailers can then serve customers personalised advertisements and promotions.
Shop It On Social
With 74% of APAC consumers turning to social media to inform their purchasing decisions, it’s hardly surprising that social commerce is a trend well on the rise throughout the region. In Thailand, for example, 51% of all online shoppers place orders through social media, a figure well above the world average of 16% and one that translates into about 20% of total e-commerce transactions nationally.
Making purchases through social media previously meant being redirected to a traditional e-commerce site, but now orders can be placed through the consumer’s channel of choice, such as Instagram or WeChat.
For example, earlier this year, WeChat launched its “brand-zone” feature, which allows brands to set up shoppable boutique stores within the platform. To be active on brand zone, a brand needs to meet three main criteria: to be verified by WeChat, receive trademark protection, and to have activated WeChat Pay.
While the app is certainly popular among local retailers, global brands are also using WeChat’s social commerce functionality to appeal to the Chinese market. Take, for example, luxury jewellery brand Cartier, whose WeChat storefront offers customers the ability to purchase from its collections, book appointments, check the status of their purchases, and repair orders—all without leaving the WeChat platform.
“WeChat transcends e-commerce and is first and foremost about connecting to our customers,” said Renaud Litré, chief executive of Cartier in China, in an interview with ft.com.