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From Designing to Marketing: Major Tech Trends Shaping the Future of Luxury Apparel and Retail

RFID, NFC, the Internet of Things and other disruptive technologies are riding the wave of the digital revolution in the luxury apparel market.
By Swamini Kulkarni
Sep 29, 2019

This is the age of innovations. Technologies such as automation and virtual reality (VR) seem to have a Midas touch. From health care to marketing and retail, every aspect of every sector has evolved with the blessing hand of smart technologies. The luxury apparel industry is also riding the wave of the digital revolution.

Changes in consumer demands hit all retail sectors, and luxury brands are no different. The major brands, such as H&M, Uniqlo and Zara, had to force retailers to keep up with the evolving fashion business model. Moreover, fast fashion companies have established their brand by incorporating technologies to shorten the length of the fashion cycle and providing consumers with the apparel of their brands at an affordable price.

From department stores to luxury boutiques, the fashion industry has witnessed significant changes throughout the past few years. This sector is known as a hotbed for innovations, and emerging technologies, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain, have made significant changes in the glittering world.

These technologies have made the industry more personalized and convenient for users. AI and machine learning can take care of repetitive work. Earlier, the fashion industry was more reliant on human resources, but now robots have been widely accepted to manufacture apparel in completely new ways, considering the shift in user preferences. From robots that sew and cut fabric to AI applications that predict future style trends, technologies are boosting the growth of the luxury apparel industry in several ways.

Welcoming the Advent of RFID
The time for item-level RFID is here to stay as it differentiates itself and helps identify each unit or item uniquely. Adopting RFID tags is the most effective way of identifying grey market products and shoplifting. Apart from this, the taking of inventories using RFID technology is accurate to around 99 percent, unlike any other inventory-management method. As luxury apparel brands exercise strong control over their manufacturing and suppliers, the cost of RFID tags is almost negligible. Thus, instead of attaching RFID tags to a product in a retailer's distribution facility, brands ensure the embedding of RFID tags in clothing, footwear and accessory products that can be achieved only at the point of manufacture. This helps deal with counterfeits and grey-market products.

NFC for Securing Authenticity
Near Field Communication (NFC) has made its way into the fashion industry, and brands consider it the most ideal investment. It combines a physical product with a secure digital application, which in turn creates a better brand experience. NFC does more for brand owners than link consumers to a website. It protects brands with digital authentication, uses location awareness to offer more useful information and increases consumer engagement. NFC tags use a unique digital profile to connect apparel to the cloud and leverage its dataset to improve the customer experience.

Personalization at Scale
Thanks to AI and machine learning, personalization at scale is now a reality. Although it is nascent in the luxury apparent market, it will be the norm within a few years. These technologies will be the key factor in driving recommendations, offering natural language search responses and building one-to-one customer relations. Apart from this, the incorporation of such technologies will help brands know the current trends and improve the user's overall experience in both the online and virtual worlds. It is a simple formula: the company that figures out how to tie personal data with shopping habits will be the winner in the fashion industry.

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