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Hector Ritondale looks at how fashion brands can ensure they’re in tune with what customers want, keeping pace with the market while still turning a healthy profit.

Technology has well and truly made its mark on the fashion industry, with digital technology in some shape or form present right from the initial design stage through to the plethora of online stores that we now see. Perhaps where technology has made the biggest difference is in the world of social media, with many fashion brands now eschewing traditional methods of advertising in favor of reaching out and connecting with customers via social media. A quick search of Instagram for example, brings up a staggering 635 million posts, showing just what an important role social media has to play in setting the fashion agenda.

Social media has undoubtedly changed consumers, empowering customers to be the dominant driving force in fashion, no longer passively waiting to be told by the major fashion brands what or who they’ll be wearing next. This has come as a big shock to the world of fashion, with many still lagging behind consumer expectations in terms of not only how they interact on social media channels, but how slow they are to respond to changing customer requirements.

In an effort to keep pace with customers, some brands are doing a good job of managing their social media presence, improving how they cultivate and harness the power of social media influencers to ‘promote’ their brand. However, where many fashion businesses are still lacking is in making the best use of the information that can be gleaned from social media, unable to feed it back into the business to make a real difference to the bottom line. You might have the best, most responsive and proactive social media team on the planet, but if the wider business isn’t making use of the information, then it’s all really just window dressing.

Information overload?

There’s now more information available than ever before – information about buying habits, trends, customer behavior, which are the most influential social media accounts, etc etc, but it’s only by processing this information correctly that fashion businesses can use it to inform decision-making right across the business. The first step to achieving this is to ensure the business has access to all the right information at the right time, which is why digitally-savvy businesses are uniting all processes (both front and back end, customer and non-customer facing) to bring all relevant business information and data together in one place. So, this might be production data, CRM information, financial forecasting, social media stats - regardless of where it comes from, the most effective businesses are pooling this information from every corner of the organization, and from wider supply chain partners too, resulting in total visibility and transparency across the business. Business management software can amalgamate this information automatically, making it quicker and easier to identify any problems and inefficiencies, helping the business to streamline operations and maximise both productivity and business agility. It’s this agility that’s vital for fashion businesses who are serious about keeping up with the ever-increasing speed of consumer demands.

Information into insight

But, simply collating the information isn’t enough. Businesses need to make sense of these huge amounts of data if they’re to put it to good use. This is where advanced in-built analytics come in, providing fashion businesses with the ways and means to automatically analyze business information from across the organization, turning data into intelligent insight. It’s only with this insight that businesses can make the right decisions in a timely manner, knowing not only who to influence from a social media perspective, but how to influence them and where to channel resources across the business to firstly respond better to consumer demand and secondly to even predict changes in demand before they happen.

More and more fashion businesses are recognizing the need to harness the power of technology across every area of the business, from sketchpad to store, bringing together information and applying the necessary levels of analytics to exploit the full potential of the business. Like it or not, fashion is now a digital industry. Of course, the final product is still vital but each product goes on a huge digital journey before it arrives with the customer and fashion businesses need to be fully involved at every stage of that journey if they’re to keep up with customer expectations. It’s only by embracing digital technologies that fashion businesses can turn data into real, actionable business insight and even foresight, furnishing fashion businesses with the ability to secure their place in the brave new digital world of fashion.

To find out more about how Argentis can help you sort through and make sense of large amounts of data, contact us.

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