Apparel Industry In A Rapid Technological Advancement & Growth

Abhinav Pathak, CEO & Co-Founder, PerpuleHeadquarterd in Bengaluru, Perpule is one of India’s first self checkout App offering features like Self Checkout, Omnichannel, Data Analytics, Smart Offers & Product Search, Instore Navigation, Retail Bot, Cloud POS and many more.

Most of us in some or the other ways have come across the apparel industry. This ranges from being a customer, business owner, researcher or industry visionary. Shopping habits of customers are constantly changing be it online or offline and apparel and companies are facing a retail landscape that’s more competitive and cutthroat today than it was ever before. However, technological improvements are rather underdeveloped to practice across the apparel industry in India. On a bright side, many brands are taking a progressive approach to fulfil the latent customer demand in 2018. Fashion and apparel brands are prioritizing innovation to stay competitive with consumers who expect trendy inventory topped with a superior experience. This correlates with the need for increasing efficiencies and productivity within inventory management and supply chain as well.

Investing in technology has helped other consumer goods sectors, including beauty, FMCG and retail; so it makes sense for apparel industry to learn from their success and keep an open minded approach for the present and future. A notable example is Amazon who has focussed on boosting the apparel segment of the company through innovation. In the list of commendable efforts made by the company to get direct insight into their customers and understand their struggles, Alexa has started to offer fashion advice like a personal wardrobe consultant, helping customers take better buying decisions. Another example would be of subscription companies, which are offering auto renewals, one tap purchases, try-n-buy and same day delivery options for customers, making them habitual to a unique ‘routine component of shopping’. In a nutshell, brands and aggregators that don’t innovate fast enough might be left behind.
Delivering a seamless experience across all consumer touch points(social media, brick and mortar, online, mobile, and many others) have dominated especially the retail industry consistently and while omnichannel way is one of the best ways to choose, it all comes down to gathering enough information about the customers and target audience. Technological innovation is giving brands the opportunity to collect mass quantities of customer data but the pricking problem of putting it to work in the right way remains.

Shopping habits of customers are constantly changing be it online or offline and apparel and companies are facing a retail landscape that’s more competitive and cutthroat today than it was ever before

The rapid technological advancement and growth in the FMCG and apparel industry has created new standards in retail, but importantly it has created new standards in customer expectations as well. In addition to competing for new customers, brands are investing in ways to retain the customers they have. More independent stores better curation of products, international categories and technology is driving this. Adding to the interesting trends that the apparel industry is seeing right now is ‘Mobile commerce. This concept is on the rise and social media is likely to be a bigger part of that in the future. Chatbots are also offering another way of buying through social media platforms like Facebook Messenger. Brands like H&M are experimenting with shoppable chatbots. We see this development as next-level personalization in action.

Companies need to identify the trends and innovate products around them, for example, the surge of digitization of retail stores and cafeterias in India with introduction of gennext software, omnichannel point of sale, mobile apps for self-checkout and self ordering. The list of trends seen this year does nt end yet.

Talking about apparel,the emergence of fast fashion, rise of smart wear (like fitness wearables), surge of sustainable fashion (brands like North face and dresden are upcycling waste and introducing concepts like biosynthetic fibers) and embracing digital technologies(startups like stylumia in India are adding intelligence to fashion through trend spotting to help brands grow in a strategic way) are going to revolutionize this industry by providing the world with affordable, locally made and sustainable fashion.

In a market that is expected to reach USD1 trillion by 2020 and growing at a CAGR eight percent, disruption caused by the revolutionary pace of digital access has made retailers rethink their strategy for growth. Indian retail market is USD 672 billion at present with modern trade expected to grow at 20 percent per annum, according to several reports. As the Industry today stands on the cusp of a new future, driven by innovation, improving operations and growing consumption, international retailers are bullish about growth prospects in India. On that note, Walmart and Target’s entry to India this year is remarkable. India being the fifth largest global destination in the retail space, apparel retailers are attempting to adapt to customer trends and new technology that will allow the consumers’ shopping experience to be more enjoyable and satisfactory in the year 2019.