Richard Humphreys |
The latest advances in Microsoft technologies, including cloud, big data and advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and mixed reality, are fuelling the retail industry’s reinvention and growth – and the luxury sector is no exception.
“These brands are operating in an environment full of newcomers looking to disrupt the market with new digital experiences, personalisation, on-demand support, and more,” said a Microsoft reporter in a recent blog post. “In a world where digital natives are an increasing norm, and consumer expectations at an all-time high, technological and cultural transformation are key.”
For Stéphane Lannuzel, chief digital officer of Operations at L’Oréal, digital transformation is all about focusing on the core basics. In a recent Microsoft feature, she explained how the firm is using data management and artificial intelligence (AI) to great effect.
Having developed AI algorithms based on machine learning, L’Oréal has the ability to predict demands based on a wide variety of data – social media, weather and financial markets, to name a few. These signals, combined with information recorded at the point of sale (POS) provide valuable information that the company uses to analyse the factors influencing consumers, improve products, anticipate trends, and optimise sales.
“We harness this type of information to target end consumers more effectively, and provide them with the products and services they need, anytime, anywhere,” said Lannuzel.
In this way, technology has allowed the company to keep up with consumer demand and trends in ways that simply weren’t achievable before. Improving and developing new products and supplying them in a timely fashion helps meet consumer needs, and is the first step to gaining their business, and, ultimately, their loyalty.
Gabriele Tazzari, director of Research and Development at YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP supports the partnership of technology and AI in particular and human beings: “The need for innovation has become vital. AI is a game-changer which can improve human capabilities,” she told Microsoft.
According to the Microsoft blog post, the company is currently developing an AI-powered virtual personal stylist tool that can recommend products to customers based on image recognition and their personal preferences, as well as an AI tool which can suggest different outfit options to help complete a particular look. This level of hyper-personalisation increases the chances of the online store’s customers forging a closer relationship with the retailer, thanks to a superior level of service.
Another example of technology benefiting both retailers and consumers, can be found in EON – a company which creates digital ID tags that can be embedded within products to provide end-to-end connectivity across the entire value chain.
The Microsoft blog post outlined how the company’s washable RFID thread tag can be seamlessly and invisibly integrated into clothing, giving each garment a unique ID, and the ability for its authenticity to be guaranteed.
“Building greater transparency directly into a garment opens up incredible opportunities for supply-chain tracking, consumer engagement, product authentication, and even smart check-out,” said Natasha Franck, EON founder and CEO. “It’s a boon to luxury brands looking to thwart the flow of counterfeits hitting the market.”