As fashion and retail evolve, technology has begun to play a huge role in the way customers experience shopping. Many people still like to go to physical stores, despite the prevalence of online shopping, and some of these stores are finding ways to integrate technology to make that experience even better.
Here are some of the things we’ve started to see, and which could represent significant possibilities for whole industries moving forward.

AI and Supply

Purchasing departments can get it wrong sometimes. When humans are in charge of things, they make mistakes. But artificial intelligence is integrated into the supply chain process, we’re seeing some stores proving more capable of maintaining supply with more consistency. From reminders and notifications about inventory, to the actual ordering and putting together new shipments, AI can be very helpful in ultimately redefining how supply and demand work for retail stores. Naturally, a lot of this is happening behind the scenes (whereas the tech innovations we get most excited about tending to be the ones we can see and notice), but the effects are trickling down to the shopping experience for customers. Special orders, long waits on products, and frustrations over colour selection or size inventory may all soon be things of the past, at least where a lot of major fashion retail stores are concerned.

VR and Shopping

VR has had a bit of a winding journey into fashion. The technology was primarily associated with video games when it first breakthrough, and then slowly spread into casinos as well. Beyond poker (a clear pick for VR adaptation), some of the top animated slots available online have also found a home in VR, demonstrating the tech’s versatility in some unexpected places. These proved to include applications outside of gaming altogether, such as travel, education, artistry – and, it now seems inevitable, retail. With VR, we’re starting to see subtle changes to how people explore, sample, and buy products, with some stores even offering VR-infused fitting rooms.

Beacons In Stores

Retail beacons are tiny devices that recognize phones via Bluetooth and send relevant data to help streamline shopping experiences. That means if you’re in a store and your phone’s Bluetooth is turned on, the store can let you know about daily deals and extra shopping incentives; it may even be able to direct you to a given product, or recommend something based on your purchasing history or interests (much the same as so often happens in online shopping). In time, some stores’ beacons may also be able to convey rewards earned from point accumulation, or other perks for regular shoppers. Altogether, this particular tech is almost serving to directly bridge the gap between digital and in-person shopping, allowing customers to experience the best of both.

More Interactive Store Apps

In a somewhat similar vein to Bluetooth beacons and their automated marketing features, interactive store apps can also add a digital component to live retail. These apps can frankly provide a lot of the same benefits beacons do (guidance to products, purchasing history and recommendations, alerts about new deals, etc.). They can also ping customers who aren’t even in stores yet with coupons or special offerings or simply alerts about sales. Additionally, some stores’ apps will allow direct digital checkout via stores payment methods. Research shows that when customers use a credit card on file, they’re more likely to spend more at one time and more often, so clearly there’s a benefit to both the customer and the store if such a payment method can be stored and used with the ease of an app.

Through these and several other examples, technology truly is changing the fashion retail business. And it’s likely that we’re only in the very early stages of all of these changes and advancements