Every season, the illustrious London Fashion Week gets more high tech as retailers seek to make the show an interactive, omnichannel brand experience.
It might seem like a big extravagant party, but the event is the most critical of the year for the UK's celebrated fashion industry, which rakes in nearly £11bn annually. Other, less glamorous retail sectors could potentially take a leaf from the fashion industry's book when it comes to its marketing flair, as it's an industry that has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to embracing innovative customer-facing technologies.
Last week marked the 61st addition of the show at London's Somerset House, and with it more retailers and designers than ever trialled technologies around mobile and digital personalisation as part of their strategies to showcase the best of their collections.
Matthieu Chouar from omnichannel personalisation specialist RichRelevance saw plenty of examples of innovation that in many ways outshone the fashion itself. Footwear brand Uggs, for instance, created an interactive campaign across its bricks-and-mortars stores and e-commerce platform, where, through the use of visual recognition app Blippar, it allowed shoppers to scan images of products in its window displays to shop the products and gain personalised styling tips.
'We’ve seen Topshop using real time data to let passersbys of their billboards know which looks are trending during their catwalk show, and River Island creating a virtual reality experience for the launch of its new collection,' says Chouar. 'Clearly this shows fashion retailers and designers need to be paying attention to data, data and more data! With digital continuing to proliferate the scene, there is increasingly more information and learnings to be gained from the consumer.'
But understanding how users interact on devices and with software is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what valuable information and insights to aid future ideas and developments.
'Gone are the days where stores are the forefront of the marketing stage and mobile devices are used predominantly for text messages and playing snake,' Chouard continued. 'Over the last five years technology developments have completely changed the way people interact with fashionbrands both online and in-store. Fashion marketers have seized the moment to create inspiring, personalised experiences for their customers across multiple platforms, anywhere in the world.'
Behavioural data gives them more customisation over individual consumer experiences – another key theme for this year’s London Fashion Week.
'Just look at how Burberry sent Twitter users personalised pictures from its London Fashion Week show,' says Chouard. 'The really smart marketers who have been quick on the draw already have fully responsive interfaces, branded apps to assist product discovery, relevant offer notifications, personalised interactive features and most importantly one click to purchase with recognised secure payment options.'
Most importantly, adds Chouard, designers should also be taking full advantage of technology’s ability to facilitate a conversation about what kind of experience customers desire, really enjoy or think can be done better.