A Review of Consumer-Facing Digital Technologies Across Different Types of Fashion Store Formats

A Review of Consumer-Facing Digital Technologies Across Different Types of Fashion Store Formats

Francesca Bonetti (The University of Manchester, UK) and Patsy Perry (The University of Manchester, UK)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1865-5.ch006
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Several current trends in the fashion retail and marketing landscape are associated with the ongoing digital revolution, including the increasing tendency for fashion retailers to adopt consumer-facing digital technologies across their online and physical store formats. Such technology helps improve the store environment by conferring a more engaging and stimulating shopping experience for consumers. This chapter provides a review of existing literature, supported by relevant industry reports and current examples from key players in the fashion retail sector, to provide a comprehensive analysis of different types of consumer-facing digital technology in various fashion store formats and how they impact on the overall shopping experience. The authors review a number of technologies including interactive touchscreens, RFID tags, beacon technology, magic mirrors and mobile apps, and consider how they are implemented in online stores, digitally enhanced stores, brand stores and pop-up stores in the fashion sector.
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The internet has significantly transformed the retail environment (Doherty & Ellis-Chadwick, 2010; Griffiths & Howard, 2008). Consumers’ growing use of digital technology and devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, has made them active internet users who can be always connected. This has important consequences for the fashion industry and its retail channels (Retail Week, 2014b). Multichannel and omnichannel retail strategies increasingly pervade the retail scene as fashion retailers have implemented technology and digital marketing in retail channels, with services traditionally provided by bricks-and-mortar stores now offered online via websites and mobile apps (Tasha & Loker, 2015; BOF, 2015; Verhoef et al., 2015; Stephen, 2016; Marti, 2015; Pantano, 2015). Software applications enable modern shoppers to buy fashion products online via mobile apps; websites allow consumers to search and compare information online, anytime and anywhere (Rigby, 2011). Consumers can shop in the comfort of their homes, 24/7, enabling retailers to overcome physical barriers to establishing an international online presence (Bronnenberg & Ellickson, 2015; Moye & Kincade, 2002; Retail Week, 2014a). The development and diffusion of new consumer-facing technologies has profound effects on consumers’ lives (Warschauer & Matuchniak, 2010), due to the affordability of new digital devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones, which influence consumers’ habits, such as time spent online (Stephen, 2016). These sociotechnical factors impact on various demographic groups of internet users and have significant consequences for traditional store retailing (Verhoef et al., 2015; Fernie & Grant, 2015).

The on-going digital revolution is witnessing a massive transformation of retailing towards the use of the digital element (Stephens, 2013; Rigby, 2011; Marti, 2015; Catlin et al., 2015). Alongside the growth of online retailing, fashion retailers also increasingly use the digital element in-store, where consumer-facing in-store technology (technology applications or devices that the consumer deals with or experiences directly) represents an important component of the in-store shopping experience. This contributes to enhancing the shopping experience by conferring added value through the use of interactive touch points, in-store digital signage screens, digital kiosks and the possibility to access online information through screens and tablets in store (Karr, 2015; Roggeveen et al., 2015; Kilcourse & Rosenblum, 2009; Charlton, 2012; Greenwald, 2015). Online, fashion retailers use consumer-facing technology by facilitating the creation of online user-generated content (UGC), which comprises consumers’ contributions such as opinions and experiences shared through social media platforms in the form of blogs, videos or a collection of images, reviews and product usage demonstrations (Montecchi et al., 2015). Moreover, digital technologies for enhanced product visualization such as touchscreen functionality, zoom facility, 2D and 3D rotation, mix-and-match technology, catwalk videos, virtual models and virtual fitting rooms all help increase the customer experience online (McCormick et al., 2014).

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