When fashion is your business, it is easy to take for granted the ease of putting together an outfit and then where to find that missing piece you are looking for, or knowing what is appropriate for a given occasion, or what will compliment your figure. As this article from Forbes points out, it's not something that many women understand intuitively and thus it takes time to figure out, and we all know time is one thing we are short on. Then there's style envy: the item you see on the woman on the street and covet and have to have. But where can you find it?
All of these problems, which for brands are missed opportunities to make a sale, have spurred many apps and brand services to bridge that gap from mystery and coveting to identification and sale. It empowers the customer, but it also loosens up their purse strings.
As fashion brands and marketers, we're all about streamlining the experience–removing as many barriers as possible so you don't lose the sale. Facilitate the purchase with as few clicks as possible in the checkout. Yes, this makes for a better, faster customer experience, but it also encourages impulse buying which is a habit of consumerism I wish more brands would actually try to discourage (Patagonia being one leader in Need based consumerism).
As far as the technology of the apps though, the concept is pretty fascinating that a computer could recognize and organize 2D images, or enable brands to collect customer generated content. But as much as they serve the consumer or give them a feeling of connection to the brands they love, these apps are also consumerism accelerators. They are businesses with a goal of making money, so the goal is to get high conversion rates and high engagement. The more you spend, the better they do. It is their prerogative to get you to buy things.
This list of apps will give you an idea of some of the most highly populated such as: ASAP54, Bib & tuck, Covet, and Pose (one that was, according to Mashable, about dressing for the weather, but is now a closet trading app).
Much like we discussed with the uprise of shoppable video, these apps tend to promote emulation and aspiration rather than individuality.
What about an app that provides greater information to the consumer? A CNET for fashion to compare and contrast products to make a thoughtful and informed decision about your purchase. An app that makes fashion feel less disposable.
We have enough ways to make buying easier. Let's start to come up with ways to buy smarter.
The way we're going: One day we will be able to see a killer pair of shoes on a woman who walks by while we're sitting having coffee downtown and think in our minds "I want that" and our brainwaves would communicate with our smart glasses through vibrations and a distribution center somewhere would get a signal prompting a drone to take off, item in tow, and deliver it in to your GPS tracked location.
Will computers eventually develop taste? Preferences? That aren't programmed?