Shoppers want to see, feel, and try on apparel before they buy — and it’s one of the most important factors that impact a shopper’s decision to make a purchase. This tactile IRL shopping experience is the reason why 55% of shoppers choose to browse clothing stores in person, instead of online.
But the coronavirus introduced social distancing and brick and mortar storefronts had to tape off fitting rooms and put away testers. Shoppers, and retailers, had no choice but to move online. Yet despite the fact that 79% of shoppers try on clothing items before they purchase, online luxury retail sales are soaring even as brick and mortar businesses open back up.
For example, luxury apparel brands including Hermès and Kering (which owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta) didn’t see dips in sales following the height of the pandemic. Hermès alone saw 44% growth compared to 2020, and 33% growth compared to 2019.
One of the biggest reasons many luxury apparel brands were able to stay afloat, and in many cases grow, is that they adapted to their shoppers’ needs with …
THE VIRTUAL FITTING ROOM
Virtual fitting rooms mimic the IRL experience while making it more fun and convenient for shoppers. Some luxury fashion groups have embraced the virtual fitting room, and they’re pulling it off flawlessly. Brands like Gucci, Chanel, and Burberry have adopted the “smartphone as fitting room” model with AR, VR, and AI technologies.
Smartphone fitting rooms give shoppers the IRL experience they crave with plenty of engagement, interactivity, and novelty. In fact, 34% of online shoppers say that virtual fitting rooms are fun and it’s an incentive to visit again.
Brands can choose between a variety of models that allow shoppers to drag-and-drop virtual clothing onto an avatar, or contour their bodies with virtual items. Depending on which model a luxury apparel brand chooses, shoppers can swap between sizes, colors, and styles to find the perfect match. Because of this, virtual fitting rooms help reduce return rates associated with online shopping.
With the rise of smartphones and their sophisticated cameras, shoppers can try on luxury apparel from the comfort of their own homes without stepping a single foot inside a dressing room. And because shoppers can try before they buy, luxury fashion sales have the potential to continue on an upwards trend.
However, shoppers are demanding more from their fashion brands now more than ever — they want sustainable practices and authentic connections. Up to 90% of shoppers claim that a brand’s authenticity is an important factor when they decide who to shop with, and this figure is up by 4% since 2017.
For this reason, it’s critical that brands figure out a way to build and maintain personal, authentic connections with their shoppers in this new digital frontier.
CLIENTELING IS THE SOLUTION EVERYONE NEEDS
Back in 2019, the virtual fitting room market clocked in at about $3M. And it’s expected to rise by more than 13% in compound annual growth to $6.5M by 2025. This data supports the idea that virtual fitting rooms are a long-term and sustainable practice — but there’s a secret piece to this puzzle:
Clienteling is a way for retailers to connect with shoppers in a meaningful way. Text messages and emails keep the relationship alive and give retailers the chance to build lasting trust with shoppers. And when brands successfully build trust, they’re more likely to have repeat and loyal shoppers.
As well, luxury brands can easily let shoppers know when their favorite items are back in stock, and curate messages based on personal shopping history with a clienteling app. And when shoppers virtually try on clothing, clienteling gives them the opportunity to connect with fashion experts and ask questions about luxury garments.
It’s an authentic and immersive experience and if it’s done correctly, it can actually be a better experience for online shoppers. Clienteling lets luxury brands tailor online experiences to each shopper which makes for a more personal, and more human, digital journey.
Plus, there aren’t any growing pains for up-and-coming luxury brands. Platforms like HERO® enable new luxury apparel groups to scale quickly, track performance, and make informed decisions with real-time data without compromising a shopper’s experience.
USE PATTERNS TO GET PERSONAL
From stripes and florals to data predictions and spending behaviors — luxury fashion is about patterns, no matter which way you cut it. The Hero app empowers apparel companies to zero in on patterns and curate personalized experiences across multiple channels, everywhere from IRL fitting rooms to virtual ones.
The faster brands can find these patterns, the faster they can improve their shoppers’ experiences. This can lead to more effective clienteling, more intuitive virtual fitting rooms, and more long-lasting relationships with shoppers.
All it takes is a personal touch with some help from Hero.