In brief

In brief

  • The digital response to sustainability challenges is accelerating and bringing opportunities for retail growth.
  • From raw materials and manufacture tracing to consumer labeling and customization, digital innovations are spurring new levels of connectivity.
  • New business models need digital solutions to meet consumer expectations for information on responsible sourcing and sustainable manufacturing.
  • To thrive, brands and retailers need to adopt technology to support customer interactivity—a critical part of the competitive fashion landscape.


Digital innovation spurs retail consumer connectivity

Digital innovation has been transforming retail value chains in recent years, particularly in response to the challenge of sustainability within the fashion industry. From raw materials and manufacture tracing to consumer labeling and customization, digital innovations are spurring new levels of connectivity to consumers.

Rapid evolutions in both technology, and consumer and investor demands, are moving some innovations from yesterday’s differentiators to today’s table stakes. Fashion players need digital solutions to address rapidly-changing consumer needs, massive sustainability challenges, and complex apparel, accessories and material supply chains.

And thanks to digital technologies, like radio-frequency identification, near-field communication, artificial intelligence and machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain, fashion brands can increase connectivity and transparency while supporting a more circular economy.

With the global apparel and footwear market forecast expected to reach $3.3 trillion by 2030, and an anticipated ecommerce CAGR of 10.2% through 2022, digitally integrated solutions are essential to manage fashion’s scale, complexity, and structural and cost challenges.

Digital solutions for new retail business models

Adapting new retail models that prioritize and curate consumers’ needs requires innovation that legacy commerce never has. Fashion brands that offer customers the prescriptive experiences and transparency they crave can win market share. It’s about leaning into a cultural shift, adopting and adapting technology to digitally connect with customers. What’s possible? Better conversion. Fewer returns. Greater productivity. And more sustainable operations that drive a new era in fashion.

Across the industry, brands and retailers are collaborating to bring visibility to the consumer and each other, and thereby fueling growth.

Digital technology drives connected products

Here are four digital connection points transforming sustainable retail and the consumer experience.

Connected solutions: Traceability & transparency

Radical visibility underpins changing business models, as product doubles as a window into the complete supply chain.

72%

of millennials believe that brands should do more to make it easier for me to buy/consume sustainably. (Accenture Pulse survey: Purpose of Brands, June 2021)

Connected thinking: Towards circularity

Connecting consumers to products by giving them a digital identity will enable circularity and drive transparency, marketing and new revenue streams.

48%

of Americans bought an item through resale in 2020. (Offer Up, 2021)

Connected communities: Digital consumer engagement

Digital innovators are finding new ways to connect products to customers, deepening relationships through personalization and customization.

91%

of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. (Accenture Pulse survey: Purpose of Brands, June 2021)

Connected futures: The future of retail

Digital innovation is redefining retail at all touchpoints, changing the future of consumer experience.

250%

The increase in conversion rates when consumers viewed 3D products in augmented reality. (Shopify 2020)



Cara Smyth

Managing Director – Sustainability


Frank Zambrelli

Managing Director – Sustainability

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