#RBTE2018 The ongoing disruption of fashion retail

Technology will continue to disrupt fashion retail as constant innovation and new entrants in the market are pushing the industry towards embracing new practices and models.

Daniel Bobroff, former Asos Ventures and founder of Coded Futures, says technology and the internet has fundamentally moved the industry on from being about retailers selling a limited supply of products to them offering an unlimited supply of goods.

“Every product will sell, even if it is just a few units, so we now live in a world of niches. The world is lots of micro niches. It’s not about where people buy, it’s what they buy. The job of retailers today is to be the source of what the customer is looking for,” he said.

This technological shift has led to the creation of platforms – such as Uber and Airbnb – that link the provider with the customer. This middle position is now also being seen in retail through the likes of Farfetch that provides the platform for a community of boutiques that customers can then access.

Bobroff also highlighted the ability for sustainability to be built into a retailer’s businesses through technology solutions. Sophisticated 3D software tools could be used to enable designers to deal with manufacturers when creating new products, which could then remove the need for samples to be transported across the world.

Carbon footprints can also be reduced by the new models of retailers like Shoes of Prey that Bobroff said creates customised shoes: “We are talking about them selling to a market of one, which helps them to only create the products that are needed and does not lead to lots of [unwanted] stock.”

With the plethora of new technologies now hitting the market he says the worry is that retailers will be unable to attract employees with the required skills. To address this Bobroff advocates retailers undertake more collaborative initiatives rather than maintaining the old mindset of dealing with everything in-house.