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It’s the hottest topic of the year and one to which the Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags platform has dedicated an in-depth examination during their live talk, led by analysts and international marketing trendsetters, to offer the sector some concrete business opportunities.

So how do we face the transition to digital, embracing the best possible opportunities that these new technologies can offer, to meet the needs of markets emerging, revolutionised, from the pandemic? Which are the best tools and how should we use them to evolve our businesses and effectively intercept consumers? These are the questions that we will aim to answer during the two-part live talk on ‘Digital Transformation’ on March 4th & 11th 2021on the Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags Swapcard platform.

Joanna Lowry, Senior Consultant at WSGN and expert in design strategies for the luxury, fashion, beauty, retail and lifestyle sectors, together with Marcus Taubert, Manager of Storever, part of the M-Cube group and expert in in-store digital media, Alfredo Orobio, Founder and CEO of Awaytomars, the largest platform in the world for design talent and Enrico Cietta, Fashion Economist and CEO of Diomedea, as moderator, will tackle these topics offering concrete solutions and demonstrating successful experiences from some of the world’s most innovative businesses.

Digital is transforming and disrupting the fashion industry and technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Automation and Robotics as well as Blockchain, will become increasingly important for business management and the interception of consumers, by involving them in a compelling digital experience. The transition to new models can appear scary, given the challenges involved, yet the opportunities out there are endless.

Starting out with some successful case studies, Joanna Lowry will identify six new B2B models that are emerging from the digital market and that offer food for thought to companies in this sector.  The affirmation of the Smart Supply Chain, supported by algorithms powered by IA, can, for example, help to map and manage supply and stock chains more efficiently, and this is precisely what the big e-commerce players such as Alibaba and have done. Predictive algorithms  facilitate targeted offers, as examples such as Alibaba’s Single Day demonstrate. 3D Design, already very popular in the fashion industry,  will develop even further, making it possible to reach the market faster than ever, avoiding over-production and also supporting the rise in on-demand production. Virtual Collaborations, which, throughout the months of home-working during lockdown have been essential, will continue to maximise productivity and communication. Hyper-real showrooms, the format that major brands are increasingly opting for to present their collections, will connect the creatives with buyers in ever more innovative ways. And Blockchain technology will expand its potential in retail marketing too, as a useful sales support.

But how will the B2C relationship with digital transform? Joanna Lowry identifies three key concepts: the use of AI for data analytics to create a valuable shopping experience; the creation of sustainable interactive environments and the diffusion of  ‘digital humans.’ In particular, we will see Livestream Shopping – already very popular in Chinese e-commerce – where it is possible to engage in a direct dialogue with consumers through social platforms, with the use of Influencer 2.0, in other words, virtually, such as Daisy from Yoox, for example, which brands will utilise as their ambassador. Virtual Wear is the tool which the big fashion industry brands will use for their gaming areas, which also has the benefit of being sustainable, given that it’s virtual. Moschino e Gucci are already the forerunners in this field. Inclusiveness is an important aspect of consumer rapport. For example, the Asos platform already has an offer that reflects the different ethnic groups, physical shapes and so on, not precluding anyone. But it isn’t sufficient. Platforms will utilise personalisation interfaces based on AI to provide a personalised response to users, but stores too will be able to use this technology thanks to interactive apps which, on the one hand, can provide anti-Covid reassurance, (given that they are contactless), and on the other hand can efficiently help with stock management.  Shops will increasingly be re-modelled as interactive showrooms, powered by social media and technology, as is already the case in the Nike Rising stores, where you can shop independently and even see how shoes fit via your smartphone. And finally, the Virtual Showcase, which came about during the pandemic, will be used more and more to present products and collections. One example of this is Prada, who chose this method, rather than the traditional fashion show for Spring/Summer ‘21, to show off their collection through multiple, different presentations. 

And the bricks & mortar? Marcus Taubert is convinced that it will be increasingly phygital in the future: “the consumer’s journey doesn’t start in-store, but right from his or her sofa – he explains – engaging through social media to click & collect. You need to capture the customer online to persuade him or her to visit the store.” Once in-store, the key to success will be to utilise digital tools to offer the consumer an engaging experience through the use of “promotional campaigns, communication via social media, touchpoints, digital catalogues and shop windows …… -  our expert adds - just as Benetton has developed the architecture of its new stores through digital instruments, such as screens, digital façades and touch tables, or Bally with its digital mirrors, interactive look-books and video motion.”

The design of the collections will also be revolutionised in the new digital world, as shown by the innovative example of the Awaytomars co-creating platform. “Founded in 2015, it was a new experience, never seen before and linked to the current Zeitgeist, that will revolutionise the world of fashion,” according to Alfredo Orobio. “From the sketch to the marketplace, designers will be able to put forward their ideas, share them and co-create their garments, then see them created and even involving consumers in the creative process.”  With 20,000 designers from 93 different countries, Awaytomars has already developed 15 co-created collections and 500 co-created garments, giving life to joint ventures with important brands which include Missoni, the Woolmark and Melissa.

In the conclusion of these talks, our experts advised companies to aim, without delay, for an omni-channel approach and the implementation of new technologies such as AI/VR and to think about how they can use them strategically in their businesses, both  from a B2B and B2C perspective, adapting them to their own business model, product and company scale.

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