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24 June 2022

Eco fashion industry: from digital transformation to customer digital engagement

The digital transformation is having a great impact on the sustainability of the fashion & textile industry. But there is more! New technologies allow the eco fashion industry to have better customer digital engagement.  

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation can be defined as the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of a company
In recent years, digital transformation has been a major focus for many industries across the globe. The textile & fashion industry is no different.

How digital transformation affects the textile & fashion industry?

The textile & fashion industry has a massive environmental impact which includes water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and an enormous amount of waste. 

But eco-fashion industry is able to reduce its environmental footprints using technologies at all stages:

  • Design - For example, digitization allows for the creation of virtual samples;
  • Sourcing - Fashion brands can reduce travel miles and find sustainable materials more easily. At the same time, transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain push the suppliers to comply to more sustainable standards;
  • Manufacturing - New sustainable innovations can help create garments using less water and chemicals, and optimize stock management.
  • Marketing AI and machine learning help to collect data about customers’ habits and predict their needs. QR codes and other smart labels ensure transparency, making consumers more aware of the impact of their purchasing choices. Social networks and CMR improve their customer journey.
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The customer digital engagement

The biggest change that digital transformation has brought to the industry is the way companies communicate with their customers. In the past, fashion brands would rely on traditional channels like print ads, TV commercials, and radio to reach their target audience. Nowadays, customers are spending more time than ever online. 

This is where customer digital engagement comes in.

We can define it as the process of interacting with customers using digital channels to create a two-way dialogue between businesses and customers.

Why the digital transformation of textile and fashion companies is so important

As the survey “COVID-19 and E-commerce”by UNCTAD reported:

“The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and triggered changes in online shopping behaviors that are likely to have lasting effects".

However, guaranteeing a positive customer experience online is not as simple as in a store.  Indeed, without human interaction, it is hard to detect and cater to customer’s emotions and feelings. And  often online shoppers are likely to avoid a brand after a single negative experience.

Today, fashion & textile companies must offer to consumers an easy and personalized customer journey, from the first touch-point to the purchase. 

This means helping them find what they want, when they want it and how they want it. So, companies need to adopt an omni-channel, customer-centric approach.

Fortunately, the digital transformation allows them to do so. 

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The eco-fashion industry can relay on different tools to improve their customers' digital engagement. Here a few examples:

  • Social media: this is one of the most popular ways to engage with customers, build relationships, create loyalty, and drive sales;
  • Emails and newsletters: it is another great way to stay in touch with customers and promote new products or services;
  • Webinars: businesses can use webinars to educate their customers and build relationships;
  • Blogs: companies can use blogs to share their expertise with their audience and become a reference point;
  • Apps: apps can offer a smooth personalized customer experience;

Other particular examples of technologies that promote engagement are smart labels.

Smart Labels

While Fast Fashion is still a reality, consumers around the world are becoming more interested in product sustainability. So, the eco-fashion industry has a great chance to increase customer engagement by showing its commitment.

Digital technologies, such as smart labels, make it possible. As the name suggests, smart labels are digital labels that provide consumers with information about an item, from production to end-of-life, along the entire supply chain. They can be:

  • Printable Labels, such as barcodes and QR codes provide instant access to information and content about a product and have the advantage that they can be created instantly and are eco-friendly. 
  • Chip Labels, such as RFID or NFC tags provide similar access to information as their printed counterparts, but have the advantage that they don’t have to be visible in order to be scanned. An entire shipment of products tagged with RFID tags can be scanned and identified in an instant.
  • Electronic Labels, these smart labels and tags usually integrate sensors, coupled with a small power source, making them more bulky, with a lifespan limited by battery duration. However, the underlying decision-making logic gives them the ability to trigger ‘intelligent’ responses.  Currently finding strong adoption in the food industry as a means to monitor the temperature the food has been kept at during transportation.

While transparency is key to gaining the trust of modern consumers, these technologies also help collect data about them. Companies can use this data to improve their marketing and the shopping experience, both online and offline.

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