How the luxury retail sector is using technology to remain relevant

Amazon recently posted a LinkedIn profile that revealed it was quietly building a team to help people to find clothes that fit people perfectly. The giant online seller wants to recruit engineers and its project will span hardware and robotics, 3D models, applied research and software engineering. The goal: to reinvent retail using machine learning.

Well that’s all fine for high street fashion, you might say, but when it comes to luxury brands, no one will want a microchip to choose an outfit for them.

Luxury fashion takes time, time to create and time to understand. It is about scarcity and unsated desires, the individual touch and beautiful details. In fact, quite the opposite of all the things that digitisation can offer: speed, ready availability, huge choice.

Yet if iconic labels and designers are going to appeal to buyers in the future, they are going to have realise that their craft-led artisanal product cannot remain untouched by digital technology.

In fact technology represents a huge opportunity for designers and luxury brands. Done well, it will certainly be the saviour of some of them.

Digital technology can bring young designers and artisans out of obscurity and give them a marketplace. It can connect young fashion graduates directly with enthusiastic shoppers through online platforms and of course social media is the ultimate shop window and inspiration for creatives.

Brands that can exploit these changes can achieve much higher rates of growth than are typically seen across the sector. Gucci is one company that has worked hard to understand digital and use it to reach new audiences.

In the first quarter of 2017 it was rewarded for its efforts with a 51 per cent increase in sales. Contrast that with average growth rates across the sector of 1 to 2 per cent.

Luxury brands are waking up to how technology can improve the experience of shopping, as well as revive sales. They are also in a ferocious battle for market share and…

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