How Karl Lagerfeld is changing the role of technology in fashion

KarlLagerfeldKarl Lagerfeld has just opened a new flagship London store and the brand looks to crack the UK marketplace by placing digital at its core. It is laying down a new vision of social shopping by placing iPad minis on clothes rails and iPads in the changing rooms, enabling customers to send a photo of themselves through social networks to seek a second opinion.

At the heart of this is an attempt by the fashion brand to tap into typical shopping behaviour (getting a friend’s opinion) through digital means, a trend that is no doubt going to spread like wildfire.
Mapping purchaser journey behaviour nowadays, we can easily see shopping is an inherently social activity. New digital developments haven’t changed this. It’s just the nature of the social integration that has been altered. Where a customer might have brought a friend along to give advice, instead they are now crowd-sourcing this opinion online. And savvy retailers are making this easier to do.

Part and parcel of this approach is for retailers to understand the underlying behavioural drivers at play and use technology to engage shoppers physically and socially, influencing decisions, along the way. Social shopping in-store encourages purchase through peer validation – a big opportunity for brands to capitalise on. 
It overcomes one of the barriers customers have with decision-making and turns this into a far simpler and more engaging experience.

A recent study by Amaze Generation showed that two thirds of teenagers have shared photos of items they are considering buying in-store with friends, demonstrating the importance of peer-to-peer opinions when purchasing. And this is just the beginning. As this technology becomes more mainstream, we’ll see other demographics catch on.

Understanding purchasing behaviour in-store, and installing technology that meets the customers appetite for convenience, doesn’t have to stop at social media. There are many complex factors behind customers’ behaviours in-store. Retailers need to unpack these patterns of behaviour and create solutions that tap into the consumer psyche and enable new shopping experiences, just like Karl Lagerfeld has.

Triumph is another example of a brand achieving this well. The lingerie brand set out to create a unique retail experience for the launch of its Essence line by shifting perception. The challenge the brand faced is many customers are stuck in ‘browse mode’, where they find it difficult to make decisions about a lingerie purchase.

To tackle the issue and influence purchasing, Triumph created a ‘fantasy experience’ to mark the launch of the collection in Selfridges London. Part of the campaign used augmented reality in the changing rooms to allow customers to try on underwear in a luxury fantasy booth but without removing their clothes. The AR screen in the booth overlaid the fit and look of the lingerie directly onto the shopper’s body. The intention was to break the associated challenges of selecting underwear in-store – unflattering lighting and uncomfortable changing rooms – through using technology to provide a simpler shopping experience.

To successfully engage today’s consumers; retailers must first understand how technology can be used to enable better and more immersive shopping experiences. As brands like Karl Lagerfeld and Triumph show us, this needs to be grounded in customer journey insight if it’s to engage customers effectively. Other retailers need to develop this same level of insight into the driving factors behind purchasing – be that convenience, the tangible experience of the goods or simply the need for a friend’s approval.

Sarah Todd is UK chief executive of Geometry Global