At this fall’s New York Fashion Week, the most interesting trends were happening off the runway. While models were showing off new looks, designers and their retail partners were demonstrating innovative ways to connect with today’s shoppers.
High-end fashion houses including Gucci streamed their runway shows live online. Burberry took it a step further with a “retail theater” that allowed at-home shoppers to purchase runway outfits online as models were strutting down the catwalk. Diane Von Furstenberg’s partnership with HP further proved that fashion and technology are now highly integrated. At the DVF Lounge during fashion week, customers were invited to sip refreshing drinks while browsing new DVF looks on HP touchscreen panels. They were even able to conveniently print out their favorites on HP printers. Real-time tweets about the event were on display on another large HP display screen.
It is not only high-end designers who are on the cutting edge of retail innovation, leveraging technology to reinvent the shopping experience and connect with customers; the following are a few more examples of how retailers are reaching their customer in new and innovative ways.
1) Virtual Tryvertising — Trendwatching.com coined the word “tryvertising” to describe the way that retailers integrate their products and services into your life so that you can develop an opinion based on your own experience, not just advertising messages. Today’s tryvertising experiences tend to be virtual. Consumers can now virtually try on makeup, tattoos, and even watches, and the new apps just keep coming. The watch company Neuvo has an iPhone app that literally lets you try it before you buy it: just choose a watch style in the app and point your iPhone’s camera to your wrist, and you’ll be able to instantly “try” on the watch without leaving home.
2) Walk-in Discounts — Location-based services like Foursquare allow merchants to offer special deals for “checking in” at a given location. Now a new app called Shopkick enables retailers including Macy’s and Best Buy to reward consumers for simply stepping into the store. When they do, an audio transmitter in each participating store emits an inaudible signal that’s detected by the app on the shopper’s mobile device.
3) Almost Instant Delivery — Gratification just keeps getting more immediate. Atlanta’s Zifty and others are picking up where Kozmo.com left off and are delivering food, DVDs, and personal care products to your door within an hour of ordering online. Similarly, online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter offers emergency wardrobe deliveries for Soho House guests and Amazon’s Local Express offers same-day delivery in eight cities for a fee.
How else can retailers engage customers and satisfy their needs in new and exciting ways?