What Does the Future of Shopping Hold for the Fashion Industry?

In 2022, our shopping habits are nothing like before. With the rise of ecommerce, over 25 per cent of the world’s population shops on ecommerce websites. The dramatic shift from the high street to online landing pages is set to continue. But while many brands have changed their focus on retail, the fashion industry continues to innovate. 

From consumer demand to understanding the customer experience, fashion brands are opening up to further technological and social innovation. Here we look at how shopping for fashion products will change in the future.

Technology revolutionalising the shopping experience

Technology and the fashion industry are becoming more interwoven. This is already evident in some fashion retailers who offer customers the ability to see how an outfit would look on them without physically trying it on through smart mirrors that use augmented reality.  Innovations may further integrate intelligent technology into our buying decisions. This might minimise the issue of returns, as eshoppers return about 70% of their apparel order, surveys suggest.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), some fashion brands can match shoppers with an AI personal stylist that suggests styles and outfits based on body type, skin tone, eye colour, and hair. Using an omnichannel approach, the AI personal stylist can be accessed on any device, thus enabling customers to switch between online and offline shopping with ease.

Technology even allows us to access a virtual wardrobe on fashion retailers’ websites tailored to our preferences. Using analytics, the tool records customers’ purchases and presents them with a virtual wardrobe. That way, shoppers can create looks and ease their shopping experience.

Retailers and all stakeholders involved in the supply chain are also benefiting from innovative technology. Blockchain technology is creating seamless operations by helping users track the garments in real time. This enables clear communication between stakeholders, transparency of the supply chain, reduction of paperwork, and cost savings.

Authenticity and shared values

Consumers are not just buying fashion products for the sake of doing so; they’re continuously looking for ways to add meaning to their purchases. This is increasing their standards, as they would rather go for a that aligns with their societal and environmental values.

The leading segment of consumers (44%) are those driven by a purpose, shows an IBM report. They choose brands and products that have the same values and reinforce their lifestyle. 

A WP Engine survey found that 72% of Gen Zs, the emerging shopping cohort, are more likely to buy from a company that supports a social cause. Sustainability is also a major driving force for consumers’ purchasing behaviour, and brands that help consumers shop more consciously are reinforced.

“Gen Z isn’t just buying a product, they’re buying into a brand, and they want to feel a deeper connection to that brand through their shared values,” commented Jasmine Enberg, an Insider Intelligence principal analyst.

In that sense, consumers are not just buying a pair of trendy black boots. They’re buying the genuine social and environmental responsibility story behind the product and are walking proudly, knowing they’re reinforcing a brand with a purpose.

As such, brands are urged to be genuine and vocal about the causes they support and how they do it through clear brand messaging. Gen Z is the generation that ranks brand authenticity the highest out of all the age groups. The same WP Engine survey shows that about eight in 10 Gen Zs would trust a company more if it used real customer images in its ads.

The fashion industry is hopping on the trend of the digital world. But the biggest changes will not be imposed on how we shop, but on why we shop. The message will become one of meaning and shared values, where fashion products serve a purpose of social responsibility. So, when we shop, we will consider the impact of our buying choices.