What will the future be like? Hyper-robotized, connected and customized, though, at the same time, strongly tied with final consumers, in constant relation with them–both digitally and personally. This is what emerged from the last edition of “CEO Roundtable on Borderless Commerce” organized by Fashion Magazine, an Italian publication owned by Sportswear International’s parent, DFV Group publishing house.
The yearly event, held in Milan, drew a varied selection of forecasters, experts, insiders and opinion makers from the digital world along with entrepreneurs, experts and retailers of the fashion industry discussing the future challenges seen through the lens of a deeply and quickly evolving market.
Directing the intense working day, involving speakers, moderating and provoking them upon some of the hottest topics for the industry was Marc Sondermann, CEO and editor-in-chief, Fashion Magazine and E-Business Magazine.
Opening the day was a visionary speech by Nils Müller, futurologist and founder Trendone. “In 2030 many works will be done by robots, we will travel with aero-taxis, we will shoot selfies with mini-drones and will speak all languages thanks to a pocket-size translator. Moreover, all cities will be connected, every media will be interactive and immersive and the industry will be finally zero-emission,” he said.
Among the main trends the German expert recognized are sustainability, sharing economy, recycling and “data driven” business models. Also key will be the fashion blockchain, seamless commerce and the integration of automatized payment systems mixed with reality and 4D printing.
Some trends are already a reality today, but they will intensify and become more widespread. “Technologies are turning from digitalization to automatization,” he said. “We will print some necessary objects directly at home and brands will create customized offers purposely for each single client.” Adidas, for instance, is already moving in this direction. Through its hub Futurecraft it has produced Adidas Futurecraft 4D, high-performance sneakers created through an entirely automatized production process that is wasteless and based upon an evolved 3D printing system.
Also advertising will evolve notably as it will lean toward hyperpersonalization thanks to face detection technology that will help investigate whether the consumer is happy or not.
Shopping will also change as anyone driving his own electric car will be able to choose by clicking what is available through the stores among a selection of proposals while driving through a shopping street. Amazon Go stores, the physical shops opened by the US e-commerce giant in the US only, will also be highly helpful. Thanks to special technology such as computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning anyone will be happy to enter a store choose products and leave without queuing at the cash register.
A new small electric robot by Starship Technologies, a company founded by Skype’s co-founders, is already a partner used by shops and restaurants and can do short-run deliveries in a six-kilometer area and can be monitored through an app.
Despite such hype on technology and automation some entrepreneurs believe that the human aspect still counts. Matteo Sinigaglia, CEO, Replay, spoke about his case history: “In the last years the industry has suffered for missing relevant specific products. Today there is a general innovation that is generating simplification and clarity. We have tried to start from consumers and their needs. About five years ago we understood that wellness and sustainability were two enormously important themes and also in the future they will be very important KPIs.”
“The relevance of product is key. If the product’s identity is not clear it risks reduce. We added to our marketing team an ex-Nike employee and this helped us to make our message much clearer.”
He continued: “In a historical moment when everything changes, passion counts more than competence. For this the human aspect is very important.”
Enzo Fusco, president, Fgf Industry, the company that produces and distributes Blauer USA, also participated one of the panels of the day. He said: “Today’s consumers are much informed and constantly following what’s new in the market. They can distinguish and evaluate products, and, not less important, always checking actors’, singers’ and influencers’ wardrobes they consider important sources of inspiration.” He believes that it is important to keep an adequate price-quality ratio, while working through a mix of distribution channels including e-commerce that for FGF counts for 8%. “We mostly follow sight ‘navigation’ as there is no more a trend that that is stronger than others. We proceed counting on our strengths only without funds and relying on our DNA, which remains intact despite the indispensable need to keep up with the times.”
Another panel was dedicated to retailers. Among them Giuseppe Giglio, CEO of Giglio.com, underlined the importance that despite his family-run company has transformed itself into a digital enterprise, consumers still play an important role. “Online commerce counts for about €25 million per year, though it was not easy convincing my father, founder of the company, that the future was in digital. What I learned from working behind the cash register is the attention and dedication to our final client, the one and only heritage a company owns. For this reason during each of our meetings we always leave an empty chair: it helps reminding us that each consumer is one of us.”