Fashion of the Future: What Retail Customer Experience Will Look Like In 5 Years – Forbes


Fashion trends come and go. It might be difficult to predict what’s coming down the runway in five years, but we already have a good idea of what to expect for customer experience. Here are four trends to look for in fashion of the future.

Subscription Boxes

Instead of searching through racks of clothing or websites to find the perfect clothing item, customers of the future will crave the convenience and personalization of subscription boxes. In recent years, subscription boxes have averaged an annual growth rate of around 100%. Popular companies Stitch Fix and Rocksbox send curated items to match each customer’s style on a regular basis. Customers keep and pay for the items they want and then send back what they don’t want.

Subscription boxes build loyal customers while also offering them an exciting experience. The subscription box model will continue to grow over the next five years. The companies that will survive and stand out will be the ones that build personal relationships and leverage data, like ThredUp’s Goody Boxes, which uses an AI algorithm that remembers each customer’s preferences so that future boxes can better fit their style.

Experiential Shopping And Showrooms

Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t dead, but they could soon look very different. A growing number of stores are moving away from filling their stores with inventory and are instead using physical spaces as a way to showcase items, offer extra services and build relationships with customers. Nordstrom already does this with its Nordstrom Local stores that don’t sell any merchandise themselves, but instead serve as a place for customers to pick up online orders, get clothing tailored and enjoy a spa treatment.

62% of consumers prefer shopping at a physical store instead of online because they want to touch the merchandise and see it in person. At the same time, the main reason people shop online is for the convenience. Showrooms provide the best of both worlds–see an item in person and then order it online. Experiential shopping is also a chance for brands to provide more intimate and personalized experiences.

AR To Test New Products

Many shoppers have had bad fitting room experiences, but those days could soon be over. Within the next five years, it will likely become more mainstream to try on clothes virtually with augmented reality. About one-third of shoppers already use AR in stores, and experts predict the market could grow to be worth $130 billion by 2020. Some stores have already adopted smart mirrors that allow customers to test different outfits without having to change their clothes. Rebecca Minkoff uses this concept at its smart stores, which include touchscreen mirrors in interactive dressing rooms. The technology is being expanded to work at home, which opens the door for online shoppers. Amazon recently filed a patent for an AR mirror that customers can use to test clothes in exotic locations, all from the comfort of their own home.

Using AR to try on clothes can help customers experiment with items they normally wouldn’t try and feel confident with how an item looks on their body before they place an order. This technology capitalizes on comfort and convenience, which are priorities for modern shoppers.

AI And Personalization

AI and data make it possible for brands to know more about their customers than ever before, which is also the gateway for greater personalization. Customers are much more likely to engage with a brand that offers a personalized message. In fact, 62% of consumers expect companies to send personalized offers based on items they’re already purchased. Using big data and AI, retailers will be able to create profiles for each customer that include their purchase history and preferences. This information can fuel personalized outreach and proactively allow employees to know what the customer is looking for. More companies will follow in the footsteps of North Face, which uses IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology to provide personalized winter jacket recommendations. Customers simply answer a few questions to find the perfect coat.

Uniqlo measures brain signals in kiosks that use neurotransmitters to gauge customers’ reactions as they are shown different clothing items. The AI algorithm uses that data to recommend products. AI learns and improves with more interactions and can help create proactive, personalized experiences for customers.

Retail customer experience will continue to change and get more personalized and advanced in the next five years. These trends give us just a taste of what’s to come,

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new “The Customer Of The Future.” Stay in touch with her weekly on her newsletter.



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