In the world of fashion being an early adopter is crucial. Incorporating pioneering technology can be transformational for different customer-facing retail channels, whether that is online or in store. However a lot of this technical innovation starts behind the scenes.
Retailers’ logistics and IT teams are adapting to the growing demands of a more tech-savvy fashion landscape. Responses can be seen in infrastructure, technology and process changes, ranging from the incremental to the revolutionary.
Recently we’ve seen House of Fraser invigorate its multichannel activities by offering a mobile app for use in stores and even buy-and-collect innovations, including a partnership with coffee shop Caffè Nero.
Fashion businesses such as M&S and the John Lewis Partnership have also made significant investments in their back office systems to ensure that they can reconfigure legacy IT systems and combine their separate stock pots.
Meanwhile Debenhams has pioneered the use of in-store stock through its Endless Aisle initiative, which is designed to increase fulfillment rates by meeting customer demand from stores as well as fulfillment centres.
Interestingly we have also seen renewed interest in RFID (radio frequency identification) as a way of making store stock pots part of the omnichannel landscape.
The ability to manage labour in peak times is never more prevalent than at Christmas and today companies are turning to new approaches for recruitment, employee engagement and retention to meet increased consumer demands.
At the other end of the supply chain – delivery –the use of technology to transform customer service is equally as widespread. A noticeable trend in the final mile is the growth in predictive time slot services and afternoon or evening deliveries, which has encouraged parcel carriers to run their networks in multiple waves. This in turn has impacted retail delivery fleets, which are increasingly loaded with click and collect volumes and finding ways to increase delivery frequency to store.
With numerous changes happening simultaneously this is an exciting time to be in logistics and technology and it will be really interesting to see what the next big innovation will be.
Jonathan Pilbro, Vice president for fashion and beauty at DHL