ASOS recently hosted Third Wave Fashion‘s ‘The Real Future of Fashion Tech‘ event where the panel talked all about fashion and tech – from the tech that sells us fashion to the tech that’s becoming fashion.
Waiting for everyone to show up!
Olapic kicked off the night by introducing their customer inspired commerce site, which lets brands pull in images of their products that consumers share to social media to display in their online stores alongside the product in question. The idea here is that this helps improve the online shopping experience because customers will be able to see how someone else uses/has styled a product they’re considering purchasing. In turn, sales should go up because there is an opportunity for the customer to make a more informed decision about whether or not the product is right for them.
In theory, I think this is awesome. Who doesn’t want to see how someone else wore a dress or styled a top they’re thinking of buying online?
However, people as young as 13 can have an Instagram account, and Olapic can pull in images from Instagram. If Olapic is pulling in images of 13 years olds, can these images be used in marketing material without the legal guardian’s consent? I asked about this at the event, and was assured that users had to have authentic accounts for the images to be pulled in. But I know what I was like when I was 13: I added two years to my birthdate on the MySpace sign up page so I appeared 15 (aka: old enough to have a MySpace account).
While I suspect the images would be moderated before appearing in an online shop, I wonder about these age implications and what kinds of safeguards need to be considered.
Screenshot via ASOS.com.
This leads me to my next question about Olapic: if a customer sees an image pulled in from social media showing someone significantly younger/older than themselves with a product, could this actually have a negative impact on sales?
For this one, I’m specifically thinking about people who shop at stores where they aren’t the target audience, such as 30 – 40 year olds who shop on ASOS because they like the range/prices/options/convenience. It’s no secret that ASOS targets 20-somethings, and currently the models on their site reflect this. But what happens if images of 16 year olds showing off how they style a dress is displayed next to that dress – would it put 30 – 40 year olds off buying? If so, would this significantly impact ASOS’ annual sales figures, or not really?
Then it was on to the panel with (from left to right) Marie Hamblin, Business Solution Owner/ Innovation, ASOS; Miyon Im, Head of Product, LYST; Geoff Watts, CEO, EDITD; and moderator Liza Kindred, Founder of Third Wave Fashion and author of The Future of Commerce.
They discussed wearables (or tech that you wear) and the potential comeback of watches (because phones are watches and watches are basically a swanky bracelet – am I right?) with gadgets like the Nike Fuelband as well as other ways to wear tech, like the new Google Glass.
None of the panelists were totally sold on the idea of wearables outside of sports, where wearable tech can be great for tracking the distance run, heart rate, calories burned, and all sorts of other stats you want to keep an eye on when you work out. But on the day-to-day? They all pretty much love their smartphones and couldn’t see an immediate shift; I’m with them on that one!
We also learned about technology that’s super creepy from a consumer point of view and absolutely freaking amazing from a marketing perspective, such as Nomi, which allows brick and mortar businesses to increase sales by improving the in-store customer experience. A real life example of this could be:
You’re out shopping and receive a notification on your smartphone from a specific app that you’ve now got a discount-off voucher for a product you’re standing near, such as a pair of jeans you’re trying on. Nomi can track whether or not you use the voucher to buy the product, and then the store can see how that type of marketing material affects sales.
It sounds incredible until you realise: what happens with all that data about what I’m standing near, looking at, trying on – and buying or not buying – in shops? What happens when you’re looking at something that’s *cough* embarrassing *cough* or ‘not for you’? How is it going to be used? Will it be shared with other companies? How will this benefit – or bother – us in the future? (Such as with online ads, emails, other app notifications, etc.) But the truly shocking bit is: all of this already happens every time you shop online; businesses can see what you look at, for how long, how you click around on a website and what triggers you to buy, such as an email for a discount off your order. So why does shopping in a brick and mortar store feel different (at least to me, anyway) – and should it be?
Still, the point remains: Nomi can be a win-win technology as long as it’s not abused. A world where I can get discounts on everything I want to buy? YES PLEASE. But a world where I go shopping and get a bajillion notifications to buy things while I’m just browsing? Or where I get haunted around the internet with banner ads about a pair of jeans I tried on but that didn’t suit me so I don’t actually want to buy them? THANKS, BUT NO THANKS.
And while not all of these technologies have become the everyday lifestyle for everyone yet, they are the future and will change the way we shop. There are very clear, obvious up-sides to these types of tech, and also not-so-obvious downsides that we as customers really do need to ask about and consider.
What do you think of the technology presented in this post? Have you experienced or used it already? Let me know in the comments!