June is over and the sale signs are already hanging in all the store showcases.

This year and after a 6.2% drop in clothing sales in May caused mainly by the weather, clothing brands will have to go beyond the traditional discounts and focus more on the customer experience in order to sell more and better.

What are the challenges faced by fashion stores?

At first, the so-called “retail” sector (the most technical way in which fashion and clothing stores are known to the public) had to face the challenge of covering all possible sales channels. The new digital client requires brands to give him the opportunity to buy in just one click, without the need for a shift. Hence, the main retail chains created their own online store and their own app to be more accessible for this type of customer.

However, the challenge today is to attack all the inefficiencies that may occur since the clothing is designed and produced, until it is purchased or even discarded. And throughout this process the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more and more important.

In addition to that, the introduction of IoT in the retail sector, and more specifically in the fashion one, brings advantages such as innovation when designing garments, improved customer experience or even operating costs reduction.

Innovation in design

Every year, the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid (MBFW Madrid) is one of the most important catwalks in the world were the last trends for the following season are shown. Since the September 2013 edition, Samsung collaborates with MBFW Madrid with its Samsung EGO project: a showcase for new designers who are aplying technology in all the facets of fashion.

This is another sign that innovation and technology are increasingly involved in the world of fashion. Surely, it will soon be customary to wear clothes with integrated sensors so brands can gather information about the customer and improve their offer. For example, by obtaining information on what type of situations the clothes are used in order to adapt their materials and ergonomics. Always taking into account the privacy of consumers.

These data can also have a social purposes as Schweppes did when designing an intelligent dress with sensors that allows measuring the harassment suffered by a woman during a night out.

Improvement of Customer Experience

With a consumer that has greater access to information and, therefore, becomes increasingly demanding, brands must adapt the way they serve their customers.

The client must be able to have the same information in store and through the web or the app. And all this, instantaneously. It is no longer enough to choose a piece of clothing, then ask the staff if it is available in your size and then go to the fitting room. And repeat the same actions many times until you manage to find the product in the desired size and make the purchase.

One way to match offline and online shopping times is by using smart labels that allow to follow the product thoroughly. With the simple use of a mobile device, the customer can know all the characteristics of the clothing: sizes, colors, store availability, etc. Or even he can scan the garment barcode in the mirror of the fitting room, and from there ask for a change in size, book the garment in another store or, if wished, make the payment. All without leaving the fitting room.

This, in short, allows the brand to offer its customers an improvement in their experience. And for the more reluctant, the introduction of this type of technology, far from reducing the number of employees in the store, what will do is transform the tasks to be carried out.

Operating costs reduction

Smart labels have also an impact in the brand, since many of them already include for example, anti-theft systems, thus they decrease the need to buy the traditional alarms that are put on clothes. Also, smart labels allow the use of a dynamic pricing method, which means that, when in sale periods, staff can automatically update the price of the clothes, without having to go from one to another changing the prices.

Indeed, another advantage of the use of smart labels is knowing at any time any information about a garment: location, temperature, sun exposure, etc. at the time of distribution, location within the store in case a customer has not left it in its place, availability in current store and in others, etc. This ultimately allows brands to ensure that their garments reach the final consumer in their best condition, thus avoiding losses caused by not being able to commercialize defective products.

Finally, the fact of being able to control stocks in an almost automated way, allows brands to make much more precise demand estimates, and better serve the market.

In short, the application of IoT technology in the retail world, and especially in the world of fashion, increases the income of brands, which have greater control over the entire life cycle of their products.

In fact, wouldn’t it be interesting that brands began taking into account the moment in which the person gets rid of the garment thanks to this technology? Maybe it’s a way to give a second opportunity to  the clothes in disuse but in good condition …