Last week, I attended Day 1 of the Decoded Fashion Summit held in New York City. While fashion admittedly has never been my area of expertise, the optimism and all around knowledge surrounding the event had me thrilled to be a part of it. The technology aspect of the event made the experience even better, illustrating just how progressive many retailers are when it comes to understanding visualization, shoppable content, mobile and personalization, among a bevy of other modern retail imperatives.
In emphasizing the theme of advanced technologies throughout the industry, Decoded Fashion partnered with The Science Project, a design and innovation agency for retailers, to display the “Bytes and Bricks” exhibit. It included sneak peeks into technologies from numerous startups such as Brickwork, CloudTags, Fashion Metric and Scigineer that are set to advance retail capabilities across all channels.
The event also included a product launch announcement from True Fit, a footwear and apparel data aggregator platform. True Fit’s GENOME platform is designed to connect fit and style data, specifically enabling brands to gain a greater sense of consumer preferences as they order products online. In the apparel world, this concept is sorely needed, especially since consumers cannot try clothing on as they would in a store.
One of my favorite presentations throughout the day came from Julie Wainwright, CEO of The RealReal. The former Pets.com CEO explained how the consignment retailer, which was founded in 2011, managed to explode in popularity to the point where the company is on track to earn $200 million in revenue.
This presentation stuck out largely because it’s always admirable for a company to come out with a true success story, particularly in such a quick time frame. In a hyper-competitive industry, there are many strategies young retailers have to consider when positioning themselves against the giant players, and these tasks can be intimidating.
Wainwright indicated that parts of the company’s success relied on specific steps, including:
Adding knowledgeable inside sales teams;
Adding personal sales tracking dashboards and authenticators;
Creating demand through curated selection;
Focusing on trendy products; and
Providing top customer service.
Closing out Day 1, Daniel Habashi, the Director of Brand Development at Instagram, explained best practices for brands planning to use the social network. Habashi indicated that 63% of Millennials go to Instagram to learn about a product or service, showing that just as this generation continues to age and purchase more products, brands must follow through and cater to their visual senses.
To truly optimize the brand experience on Instagram, Habashi made four recommendations to retailers:
Design with an objective in mind;
Focus on the brand presence;
Use a creative canvas to tell stories; and
Stress consistency and authenticity, which remain keys to brand success.
“We’re in an age where your customer is going to call out your brand if you’re not being true to the audience,” said Habashi.
With these presentations bringing this relevant information and advice to light, it’s clear that more executives in fashion — and retail in general — are adapting to consumer desires and updating their technology capabilities accordingly. Although I only had the chance to visit one day at the Decoded Fashion Summit, I am certainly looking forward to attending the event next year!