Is retail tech the future of sustainability? These latest innovations could be available to indies sooner than you think

As sustainability becomes an increasingly important consideration for retailers, Stefan Hauswiesner, CEO and co-founder of Reactive Reality, reveals how the latest tech can boost your business’s green efforts…

1. AR is the future

For retailers, we all know that keeping costs down is essential. However, boutiques, more than most, have the opportunity to create a more dynamic and diverse commerce environment and experience compared to a lot of bigger retailers who are often restricted by strict design plans. Personalisation is key, both in-store and online, when it comes to building and retaining brand loyalty. Adopting augmented reality technology may feel daunting and sound expensive but by using ‘plug in and play’ platforms like Reactive Reality’s PICTOFiT means that independent retailers can turn the online shopping experience from something very simple and ordinary, into something completely unique and couture in one easy step. Augmented reality offers consumers not only the option to try on limitless styles and clothing items, but it also means they are able to access items that may not necessarily be available in store, be given exclusive access to new product launches, and see what the clothing will look like in different locations and settings.


2. Reduce unnecessary deliveries and returns

According to a recent commerce report by online marketplace, Shopify, at the height of the pandemic, 10 years of e-commerce growth happened in just 90 days. However, what still frustrates customers when buying online is the lack of options available to determine whether an item of clothing is the correct size, style, or fit. This results in a bulk purchase wherein clothes are returned en masse, which has a detrimental impact on the environment and shines a negative light on the fashion industry. Changing up your online fitting room with the adoption of augmented reality technology means that customers can try on items virtually, seeing exactly how it will look when it does arrive, thanks to the customisable avatar that gives them a true reflection of fit and style and thus, reducing costly and environmentally harmful deliveries and returns.


3. In-store tech to reduce and refine stock

“Do you have this in another size?” a question that every fashion retailer will have been asked which inevitably means you have to either hold huge amounts of stock or can often lead to a sales loss if you do not have it in store. By implementing AR technology that allows customers to view and try on clothes that are not currently available in store, all via their own personalised avatar, shops can boost sales and brand loyalty. The customer can then be provided with an online sign-in credential where their avatar and in-store experience will be stored, allowing them to easily continue their shopping journey at home where they can complete their purchase.


4. In-store experiences

Bricks and mortar stores are working harder now than ever before to improve the physical appeal of stores. Interactive, personalised, and sensory experiences, such as offering incentives, exclusive events, and Instagrammable moments are just a handful of examples. Whether it’s a photo booth, a flower wall, or something as simple as an in-store DJ, we all want a bit more when stepping foot into a physical store. But for the owners, one of the biggest challenges is keeping customers engaged with the product. Physical stores are uniquely capable of turning shopping into an experience but often lack the same opportunity within their online storefront. Online stores, too often, have resigned themselves to a generic layout, fixated on the transactional objective of the end purchase. Shopping online has become frictionless but transactional; it lacks the refined experience which brands have achieved in store. While there are several ways retailers can adapt online as they have in store, plug and play technology and software can be the quickest (and most effective) way to make a generic shopping experience feel personalised and unique. Examples include augmented reality software, interactive fitting rooms, personalised suggestions through the use of machine learning, and personalised notifications that offer a personal shopper experience in your pocket.


5. Influencers

Reaching your target demographic as an independent retailer can often feel difficult. Market research, data insights, and big marketing campaigns can prove costly and fruitless. However, while working with influencers in the fashion world can be a great way to build online presence and awareness with your target audience – fashion shoots, stylists, photographers, and endless products can often make an influencer campaign feel out of reach. Now more than ever, it is important to limit the use of precious resources and reduce unnecessary travel. Augmented reality offers influencers, and their followers, so much more than a 2D experience and negates the need for brands to send piles of clothes and accessories overseas and significantly reduces the number of unnecessary flights. You can show customers or followers exactly how your beautiful clothing looks on limitless, aspirational influencers without having to send a single dress, blouse, sweater, skirt, or shirt. The potential of AR really is limitless and will continue to be valuable for brands and influencers big or small. Live within your own website, using platforms like PICTOFiT, you can show customers exactly how your  clothing looks on limitless, aspirational influencers without having to send a single dress, blouse, sweater, skirt or shirt.