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Fashion’s getting personal

High fashion meets big data.

When we think of technology and fashion, wearables and smart fabrics are often the first concepts to come to mind, but fashion businesses are getting smarter; it’s not the technology in what we wear, but the technology in how we think and what we like that is most crucial to fashion retailers and design houses.

Fashion is getting under our skin and into our psyche and technology is playing a huge part in that. The competitive edge for retailers is being able to personalise product recommendations for consumers to encourage them to spend with them and data analysis is key to that.

For Millennials, the immediacy and convenience of online purchasing is not enough. Research has shown that Millennials want an experience; that means retailers need to collaborate with their consumers, make that purchase personal and make the experience of purchasing exceptional. Personalisation is key to providing this concept of ‘experience shopping’, as consumers cease to see retailers as product providers and more as service providers.

Personalisation is not just key for consumers, it helps retailers to improve their consumer retention rates and it also allows buying teams to consider upstream trends and buy accordingly and reduce waste. Buying teams are used to buying on the basis of trends fed down from the upper echelons of the fashion press but data analysis now allows buying teams to consider what their consumers are ‘liking’ on social media, what social shopping they’re engaging in, what brands they are buying and what their search history reveals about their taste and buy items and amounts based on that.

Exceptional service comes with a price, however. It requires consumers to share their personal data and it requires retailers to collect, process, use and keep that in accordance with data protection and privacy laws. The key things for retailers to consider when collecting, keeping and using data are:

  • Do you have consent from the consumer to collect and use their data?
  • What does your privacy policy look like? Are you complying with Data Protection laws?
  • How is the data you collect being stored and how secure is it?
  • Are you transferring data outside the EU?
  • Do you have crisis management systems in place?

Given that from 2018 non-compliance with data protection laws could result in fines of up to the greater of EUR 20m or 4% of annual worldwide turnover and the associated reputational risks of breaches of personal data, it is essential that compliance with laws when collecting, using and keeping data for analysis is one of the first steps that retailers take.

Disclaimer: This article is produced for and on behalf of White & Black Limited, which is a limited liability company registered in England and Wales with registered number 06436665. It is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The contents of this article should be viewed as opinion and general guidance, and should not be treated as legal advice.

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