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The future of the retail customer journey for clothing & fashion

Full report: Understanding the retail customer journey for the fashion industry

The future of the retail customer journey for clothing & fashion

How will the customer journey evolve for the fashion industry?

Today’s customer journey for fashion is unrecognisable from a decade ago, and the key challenge for fashion retailing is the sophisticated use of technology, data science and the ability to create meaningful experiences for customers. But what exactly does this entail? 

In this article we focus on this question as we head further in the 2020s where technology is driving much of the disruption and industry shifts we are observing. As such, this article forms part of a wider piece of research focussing on the initial stage of the customer journey (stage 1 of 4: Awareness and Research) and covers a selection of issues concerning the future development of the customer journey here. 

What lies ahead?

Retail brands which can modify their business models quickly to be more digitally and experience-led will command a larger share of both spending and the attention economy. 

In many ways, success will depend on providing meaningful customer experiences, where stepping into a physical store feels like a tangible extension of a digital environment.
 

“Retail brands which can modify their business models quickly to be more digitally and experience-led will command a larger share of both spending and the attention economy.”

This transition may result in sensory-inspired, digital-playground, showroom formats with tethered stock and same day deliveries.

A third of customers would not be put off from shopping in stores that displayed extended product ranges but only offered delivery of purchases. For others, bricks-and-mortar stores may serve as open-houses, where the customer can get advice, touch the clothing and enjoy a free cappuccino.

consumers retail clothing stores infographic

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This work forms part of a wider piece of research and is a downloadable in pdf format

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All in their hands

Using their smartphones, customers could take virtual tours of shopping destinations and stores remotely, watch videos and interact seamlessly with retailers and brands. This behaviour is already rooted in many younger customers but current observations are just the beginnings of what retail futurists foresee.

Data priorities

Using their smartphones, customers could take virtual tours of shopping destinations and stores remotely, watch videos and interact seamlessly with retailers and brands. This behaviour is already rooted in many younger customers but current observations are just the beginnings of what retail futurists foresee.

robotic warehouse retail

The age of artificial intelligence (AI)

Meanwhile, the proliferation of AI technologies will revolutionise the customer and brand relationship.

Whether AI is being used to offer product recommendations or to determine the optimal mix of media to best engage micro-marketing segmentations, science fiction is becoming reality. Many technological foundations have already been laid and developments are unfolding at an unprecedented pace.

Retailers must strive to present consumers with this seamless experience across all devices and channels throughout the four-stage customer journey, and the new age of retail will need to incorporate metrics that measure in-store social sharing, brand buzz, engagement and, in time, ‘in-store-online-on-the-go’ customer behaviour interconnectivity.
 

The impact of disruptive technology within the fashion industry

As this article highlights, the impact of technology touches all parts of the customer journey, stage 1 (Awareness and Research) being no exception. Find of more about how this is happening and the implications to consumers and retailers.

Things to do now

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Found this short article interesting?

This research was conducted by Retail Economics in partnership with Pennigtons Manches Cooper and forms part of a wider piece of research that focusses on the initial stage of the retail customer journey for the fashion industry (stage 1 of 4). It unpacks the key themes that influence consumers and retailers here and identifies future trends in this space. Retail Economics supplied the data sets, collected from a consumer survey of over 2,000 nationally representative individuals in Q1 of 2019. 
 

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