- Despite the availability of 3D virtual showroom software & AR/VR technologies, brands were caught unprepared during the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Now buyers &augmented reality showroom(s) want brands to adopt retail-style formats on their webpages, with high-resolution images and videos, so they can shop easier.
- Brands should also take into account regional differences and be mindful of new fabrications and silhouettes. They should simplify the decision-making process by sticking to bestsellers and established designs.
With Covid-19 cases surging globally, brands had difficulty in providing virtual product showroom presentations and sessions for their buyers. The situation became worse as Covid-19 continued to jeopardize global travel & grand events.
On the other hand, the fashion industry was also undergoing a massive upheaval. With nearly every fashion week being cancelled or postponed to a later date.
Following the footsteps of Shanghai and Tokyo, London has announced a 3D virtual showroom software that merges womenswear and menswear in one gender-neutral format, open to the general public, trade and press. It includes interviews, podcasts, designer diaries, webinars and augmented reality showroom(s). Several brands will also have pre-collections to advertise to buyers. In such a situation, the 3D virtual showroom software becomes the best solution for branding & buying.
“We are trying to gain visibility on our audience niche interests & buyer personas,” – says Fedaa Ghanem, VP of Merchandising at Harvey Nichols, Dubai.
Virtual product showroom presents a new and challenging experience for many people.
Adding to the conversation, “Ghanem says, his team only buys products remotely in a few cases. For e.g., continuity products like T-shirts. At Browns, digital buying is more popular, especially when the team can’t travel to a specific location in these tough times. On the virtual product showroom, what has been far from the norm until now is, virtual try-out. It is true that, we were buying virtually before from some brands & it was cool then. But now, it is very different doing for large-scale.
Although popular 3D virtual showroom software like VeeSpaces, Joor, and NuOrder have been available online for a few years, a large part of the shopping experience has continued to happen offline, with buyers flying across places to meet fashion experts and visit showrooms.
Brands have been slow to take advantage of the 3D virtual showroom software technology available to them. They were caught unprepared for a sudden need to switch to a virtual product showroom. Even with people, most of the audience still see the augmented reality showroom or digital buying as an afterthought.
Tiffany Hsu, the fashion buying director at MyTheresa says, it’s hard to plan the designs with brands that offer only sketches because pictures can’t begin to express what designers produce. Other issues observed include slow-loading video and complicated instructions.
Brands are looking to adopt new technologies & augmented reality showroom(s) that offer videos, 3D images, and the zooming capabilities of products for online shopping. With these new technologies, brands hope to provide customers with more features &resources for their shopping.
1) Technology is the future:
Kristin Savilia, CEO of Joor, claims brands can improve the virtual buying experience with quicker samples and materials. “Most of the brands just had sketches with them. That’s not something that we can fix.” Joor partnered with Ordre in March to allow brands to upload 360-degree images created through Ordre-owned Orb360 technology on the platform. Savilia says, it takes 48 hours to allow brands to ship merchandise to them while adjusting to the current travel bans.
The platform has been implementing changes after the buyer feedback from Paris Fashion Week. On average, GMV for digital orders increased 2.5 times higher than expected after seeing the success of video marketing. The format many buyers hope for is similar to what general customers usually access on e-commerce sites: a combination of high-resolution images, video, the ability to zoom in and a detailed product description. “Creating high-quality images from all angles. It is the least that we expect,” – says Hsu.
Digital appointments take longer than in-person appointments.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-Porter, explained that there were two reasons digital appointments typically took longer. They are the showing and waiting time. Using augmented reality showroom(s) or avatars with better digital display will make the visuals clearer and remove the need for a model.
2) Regional diversity, open opportunities and communications
A review from another brand leader, Harvey Nichols. Online shopping became a challenge for their Middle Eastern shoppers as they cannot always see the fabric weight, alternative swatches and trendy silhouettes needed. “Sometimes after finishing all the purchases, we still shopexclusively for our customers, so we spend time going through swatches and silhouettes and physically working on the selection to come out with alternative solutions. “It is not that easy & practical digitally.”
Clearly, fabrication is not something Harvey Nichols is interested in, as it comes with challenges, including sizing up, covering up, and sleeves can be tricky.
Ghanem says, brands must stick to their regular silhouettes and bestsellers, then edit for smart navigation and customer connectivity. Both brands & customers benefit when the web or virtual product showroom is organized by – common interests. By dividing products into different categories, brands can easily give customers all the information they need in one click.
“Dealing with small businesses is easy. On the contrary, for big enterprises, the division becomes critical as we invest huge volumes on each project.”
Successful brands often use storytelling content to establish a narrative for their lines. Von der Goltz found that introductions conducted by the designers are too good, as they help catch the audience eye quickly and create instant connections with materials.
Nelson Mui, the merchandising director of Lane Crawford, thinks brands must engage in conversations about seasonal focus, bestsellers, trends, designers’ personal favourites, upcoming marketing plans, budgets and sales that occur naturally during offline showrooms.
“The conversations are crucial to share later. Engaging our sales teams on an emotional level is vital to share the brand story with our customers,” says Nelson Mui.
3) Learnings from China
Shanghai Fashion Week was the first to shift to a virtual product showroom era, with video presentations, AR and live streaming. Brands are now able to sell directly to customers through Alibaba’s Tmall partnership. According to Tmall reports, the launch was watched by over 2.5 million people for 3 hrs &so was considered an effective way to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. But for buyers, challenges remained.
Foreign buyers with no knowledge of Mandarin found navigating the Tmall app tricky. The apps see&buy model targeted the event to general customers rather than strictly industry insiders. Participating experts agreed that the event was better for customer interactions than with buyers. “Separating the sessions would offer a richer experience,” writes Mui, adding that there wasn’t a regular showroom option, so they had to video call every brand personally and check the product. And, for Petersson, having a guide online with all the specifics of each gallery would have been helpful.
China’s Ontimeshow is one of the largest fashion trade shows and has lessons on how to transition from live format to3D virtual showroom software& take advantage of changing times. The trade show was held in the Autumn/Winter 2020 preview event at the TX Huaihai mall in Shanghai. As its usual venue, West Bund Art Centre, like many other main spaces in the country, continued to remain closed.
Unlike past shows, the new augmented reality showroom format will include a smaller selection of brands. But you’ll also be able to meet local buyers in person. Complementinglive events; the virtual product showroom(s)are planning to launch an online ordering system with 360-degree product demos and details like company information.
Hope you all have enjoyed reading the most crucial industry-leading insights shared by Founders of various brands & popular event planners. Augmented reality showroom is truly a game-changing innovation in the current markets. From helping businesses to showcase their brands virtually to enabling virtual try-in & try-outs for customers globally, the augmented reality showroom spaces are the best to understand the customer interests & buyer personas.
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