Amazon Web Services addresses retail technology imperatives – WWD

As an assortment of emerging technologies move from the edges of retail to the center, huge hype and investments in virtual goods and platforms are injecting words such as “digital collectibles”, “wearables” , “NFT” and “the metaverse” in fashion and beauty. lexicon.

In the modern retail heatmap, these areas are hot – so much so that WWD hosted a dedicated metaverse symposium in Paris. But the virtual world is just one of countless advancements that are taking retail to the next level.

Steve Gurney, Head of General Merchandise Retail at Amazon Web Services, broke down crucial technology priorities for stores and brands on WWD’s virtual site. Tech Forum, in a presentation entitled “Accelerating Retail Innovation in Fashion”. He also brought the recipes, reviewing many examples and covering topics ranging from smart data strategies, machine learning, social commerce and augmented reality to future concepts like ambient computing and virtual initiatives.

He started with a bit of background for the latest tech renaissance: Simply put, blame it on COVID-19.

“The pandemic has taken a lot of retail inspiration away from the usual places,” he said, referring to brick-and-mortar stores and even TV, print and outdoor ads. “When we had the various lockdowns and only essential stores were open, people couldn’t browse. So we’ve seen this shift from them looking for that equivalent of navigation or retail inspiration through digital channels.

The thread that ties it all together seems obvious: social media was already a source of inspiration for all sorts of things, so it naturally drew potential buyers to its endless scroll – especially as the platforms are teeming with commerce , brand and affiliate partnerships. monetization for creators. Expanded tools like longer videos, live shopping, and augmented reality have also paved the way for the metaverse.

With these and other effects on e-commerce, along with the eventual return of physical purchases, the shopping data cup is overflowing. It’s no surprise that retailers like Zalando, Neiman Marcus, and Tapestry are re-examining their data strategies, especially since cloud platforms like AWS could ingest immense amounts of information and quickly pump out data-based features. intelligence.

German fashion e-tailer Zalando has mined different types of data to come up with a “complete the look” type feature. The company, which has run a personal shopping service for years, gathered its customer and fashion data with designer-recommended looks, market trends and brand sales information, then integrated it in a model that would create outfits on the fly for her product. pages.

“All of this will be built from their designer choices, as well as their knowledge of you, as a customer,” Gurney said, calling the experience “hyper-personalization.” The more the customer engages and interacts, the more Zalando learns about that particular person’s tastes and preferences.

The technology is not limited to websites either. Neiman Marcus has put hyper-personalization to work in its department stores, as well as online. “They’re equipping salespeople with the same kind of power,” he said, “but in a mobile device that they have in the shop [via] a client application.

According to Gurney, Neiman Marcus saw “tremendous” results, with “$3 million in additional daily sales on top of what they were getting before.” In the end, it achieved a 2,500% return on investment, dramatically reduced development costs by 90%, and got to market in half the time. This might just be the start. With the return of in-store shopping, loyal customers can enjoy returning to the big store without sacrificing the convenience and smarts they’ve grown accustomed to online.

Tapestry driven by efficiency as well. Parent Coach and Kate Spade had an excellent grasp of historical customer data, but did not use it to power forecasts, recommendations, pricing or demand forecasts. The company developed a data-driven acceleration program to focus more on customers, as well as streamline and optimize the business.

The effort paid off. Tapestry cut up to 40% of its product line, while driving global digital sales in the second quarter up 30% year-over-year, a threefold increase from pre-Secondary sales. pandemic. As it beat its pre-pandemic revenue by 18% and increased its operating margin, the company has seen another likely upside: With the changes, the company believes it can better navigate the gauntlet of supply chain issues that plague other brands.

Such results are the culmination of years of development in AI, data intelligence and cloud computing. By contrast, retail’s fixation on the metaverse clearly belies its birth in business — or its infancy, according to AWS. But there is no doubt that he is growing.

Brands are already making extensive use of 3D tools, whether for AR trials or WebAR environments, such as virtual stores. NFTs are all the rage, and businesses are only beginning to uncover all the uses, from digital products to blockchain-based smart contracts, procurement, authentication, virtual experiences and more. In the future, ambient computing and voice assistants will likely add to the AR or VR experience as they create even more opportunities for retailers.

The sheer scope of the technological imperatives is remarkable. As long-simmering advancements become real, foundational tools for commerce, fashion continues its expedition into all things virtual. It’s a fascinating snapshot of a retail industry facing a time of great change – perhaps its biggest since the advent of the internet itself.

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