Technology and retail are converging at a sprint pace. Watching Fashion Week shows on your laptop and buying every item of clothing, accessories, or even diamonds on your smartphone have gone from “cutting edge” to de rigueur, all in a matter of months. All this mainstream success has caused a paradigm shift, opening the door to new fashion-tech applications — and new apps are very much on the rise.
So what’s the next big thing? One possibility could be “convergence platforms,” which provides everything a retailer needs — exposure, livestreamed shows, online marketing campaigns, e-commerce platforms — all in one place. An example of this type of innovative (albeit ambitious) project is 360Fashion, founded by model Anina Trepte. It’s an online network that connects the fashion industry with technology by promoting its members (brands and retailers) through syndicated mobile apps, TV programs, and an RSS feed. Members are also provided with general tutelage on how to keep up with the times, tech-wise — something that many retailers need.
While 360Fashion works from behind-the-scenes to put its member brands and designers into the hands of pre-existing tech tools, the Australian studio Portable created Portable Shops to let anyone create an online store that, in its simplicity, isn’t so different from how Blogspot lets pretty much anyone set up a blog. Among the first American retailers to use the program are Loden Dager and Candela.
Both 360Fashion and Portable are springboarding heavily off of Facebook and Twitter — Trepte introduced MobileMags, magazine-style mobile apps, through which readers can access relevant Facebook, Twitter, and e-commerce sites. Meanwhile, Portable Shops includes a Facebook e-commerce application in its set-up.
Next on the horizon, Trepte believes, are QR codes, which shoppers can scan with their smartphones to access any information on the products that designers or retailers have chosen to place on the site. The QR code can function as an entry portal to a brand history, an e-commerce site, or a mobile magazine. And then there’s augmented reality, already referred to as “AR,” which allows shoppers to virtually try on clothes and accessories through a variety of fledgling programs.
While many of these are still working out kinks, if they succeed, the information they provide could mean a whole new look for the online retail landscape — just wait ’til apps are “a thing of the past.”