A new retail fashion landscape has emerged over the past few years.

With the demise of traditional high streets and the rise of e-commerce, fashion stores have been squeezed, putting their very existence at risk.

At the same time, consumers are demanding more experiential retail, with less focus on the transactional side of fashion shopping. Yet staff shortages and recruitment issues are making it harder for stores to deliver consistently excellent customer service.


of fashion retailers listed the ability to recruit, train and retain high-quality associates as their biggest customer assistance challenge.

Source: Research Report: The Future of Fashion In-Store Engagement, Scandit 2022

To rise to these challenges, retail fashion stores are having to innovate and evolve by:

  • Transforming their in-store operations. For example, with smart data capture on smart devices store associates can instantly verify prices and manage stock inventories easily – all with a single device that they don’t have to share.
  • Blending the physical and digital worlds to deliver a true omnichannel experience. With apps enabled with smart data capture, customers can self-scan, access personalized deals and look up product information.
  • Empowering store associates to deliver superior levels of customer service. Having data at their fingertips on a smart device means they can effortlessly do mobile point of sale and clienteling – from a device that fits in their pocket.

You can tell a forward-looking fashion retail store or brand based on the number of services that customers can access through their own device as they walk through the doors Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR

Here we explore the future of the in-store fashion experience by highlighting six key consumer and retail technology trends that will separate the fashion on trends from the fashion faux pas, including some innovative real examples.

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Trend 1: Retail-as-a-Service where trialing ranks higher than sales


of retailers believe physical retail must become more experiential and less transactional to survive.

Source: Research Report: The Future of Fashion In-Store Engagement, Scandit 2022

A new trend is for stores to offer a Retail-as-a-Service (RaaS) option, where various brands will be invited to promote their products in a shared space.

Through the RaaS model, retailers place less emphasis on holding inventory and more on delivering an immersive shopping experience – where consumers view and trial products to create an emotional connection with brands.

Many brands renting the space do not even aim to sell in these spaces. Instead, they seek to attract large numbers of consumers into their immersive storytelling showrooms so they can capture valuable data to assess preferences and shape future retail experiences.

What is RaaS?

Retail Futurist Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR speaking at a Scandit Expert Panel Debate.

Situ Live is one such store offering its pop-up facilities to various brands. By delivering exciting theatrical presentations, retailers are able to demonstrate products using virtual reality headsets and create impactful experiences.

The experience itself is what attracts consumers. Although products are shown, there are no prices, nor any transactional pressures. Instead, visitors can scan QR codes to see more information and get links to the respective e-commerce sites.

One potential application of this approach in the fashion space today sees customers able to scan merchandise labels directly via a website or web app, without having to download the customer shopping app.

Retailers are now replicating elements of online shopping using smart data capture technology to deliver differentiated experiences in store. We see many brands enabling web apps to allow customers and store associates to easily interact with products to find out stock availability, color options, reviews and recommendations, purchase a product on the spot and have it shipped from home. It’s one seamless experience. Jessica Grisolia, Head of Retail Industry Solutions, Scandit

Fashion brands are also using augmented reality to offer reviews, personalized vouchers, coupons and promotions in overlays displayed on the device screen. It creates a more blended physical/digital experience.

Through a partnership with AI and machine learning experts The Data Analysis Bureau, Situ Live also offers their retail partner brands analytics and insights from the digital and physical channels to help them “in converting more sales and product research and development”.

With RaaS, brands gain a data-rich view of who is visiting their retail space, along with what they are looking at and for how long. This inputs into the brand’s decision-making as well as the customer’s omnichannel journey.

The best users of data tend to win in modern retail Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR

Trend 2: Social currency to build brand loyalty

Using a social retail approach, brands are giving consumers the chance to earn virtual currency that they can exchange for exclusive, luxury or status-laden experiences that cannot ordinarily be bought.

Smartphones act as an extension of the store, allowing customers to ‘wear’ the store like a digital jacket – surrounding them with extra goodies and services that are only accessible with their mobile device by scanning apparel labels or fixtures and presentation items within the actual store.

What is social currency?

Retail Futurist Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR speaking at a Scandit Expert Panel Debate.

This model is very fitting for high-end and luxury fashion. Brands in this space can use technology to drive interaction with the lure of a special or exclusive reward. Experiences, like VIP events or styling sessions, grant consumers a very shareable social status that helps build their loyalty through both online and offline engagement.

In China, for example, high-end luxury fashion retailer Burberry has collaborated with technology company Tencent to better connect pre-shopping with the in-store moment.

Customers can earn virtual currency and access membership to the exclusive Burberry ‘Club’ by interacting with the retailer’s site on the WeChat social platform and scanning apparel labels and displays in-store.

Other retailers are also capitalizing on what smart device interaction can deliver for customers in store.

One European retailer we work with kitted changing rooms with tablets so customers could easily request a different style or size while trying a garment on. This is a great example of creating better customer service using high-performance smart data capture. Jessica Grisolia, Head of Retail Industry Solutions, Scandit

Trend 3: Smaller store formats with constant product cycle refreshes

Using smaller stores seems counterintuitive to selling more. But it prevents having to have large rent-heavy store locations or holding high levels of inventory. Plus, brands can continually refresh their displays to drive new interest from consumers.

This trend is particularly appealing to department stores, which have been severely challenged in recent years.

How are store formats evolving?

Retail Futurist Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR speaking at a Scandit Expert Panel Debate.

Bloomie’s is a mini version of Bloomingdale’s. It is just 10% the size of a full-scale department store. Its small size means it must undertake constant product refreshes if it wants to showcase its product ranges. These keep customers interested and coming back for more.

The store uses fashion retail technology to deliver an endless aisle concept and has optimized its small footprint by offering in-store pickup and home delivery.

Retail associates use devices with smart data capture capabilities to access wider inventory details for customers. And by scanning QR codes on signage with smartphone apps, customers can connect with product experts based in larger department stores. These sorts of services allow brands to provide a high level of expertise via their associates.

A brand that has utilized the endless aisle concept with great results is Decathlon. Through a digital app powered with Scandit Smart Data Capture, customers in Singapore can access the brand’s full product range and even arrange delivery of bulky items to their home addresses. This allows Decathlon to keep in-store inventory levels to a minimum but does not limit what a customer can purchase, thereby increasing the profitability of the retail store. Read their story.

Another example is a UK grocery and fashion retailer who is using scanning to enable customers to still make a purchase even when the specific items they want are out of stock. Using their mobile phones, customers can scan an out-of-stock item to order the correct size or color version from the retailer’s website.

By offering home delivery, the buyer journey doesn’t have to end in store and customers can access a full catalog of items for easy self-checkout.

Trend 4: Concierge services using mixed reality to style customers


say empowering employees to become consultants/concierges with digital tools is a key investment in 2022.

Source: Research Report: The Future of Fashion In-Store Engagement, Scandit 2022

With a growing preference for at-home shopping, the use of technology can facilitate the purchase of high-value goods and services.

Often these sorts of goods are provided via a bespoke, luxury service, so it is vital that stores can deliver an effective, personalized experience.

A great example is store associates at Italian luxury goods retailer Salvatore Ferragamo use HoloLens 2 mixed reality headsets to help buyers choose and customize footwear.

By joining a shared interactive session, the customer advisor can use the technology to see in 3D what the customer is envisaging and to advise on their selections and configurations.

How are retailers empowering employees with technology?

Retail Futurist Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR speaking at a Scandit Expert Panel Debate.

Technology doesn’t need to be an active task for the customer during the buying process, though. Several well known Italian fashion brands who work with Scandit are using scanning in a passive way to allow the customer to fully enjoy the shopping experience.

By using smart data capture enabled with high performance scanning, a customer can still be enjoying their champagne anywhere in the store, while the store associate performs clienteling and mobile Point of Sale tasks. There’s no need for a customer to take their goods to a cashier for the payment to be processed. Instead, they enjoy a smooth, almost imperceptible buying process that retains the indulgence of the shopping experience. Jessica Grisolia, Head of Retail Industry Solutions, Scandit

Trend 5: Self-checkout so customers can pick, scan and walk out

The trend toward self-checkout has been advanced by the likes of Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh, through its pioneering ‘just walk out’ retail concept. Amazon Go stores allow buyers to use their smartphones to select and self-pay for goods (typically groceries), then just leave with their purchases.

This trend is starting to be seen in other categories, including fashion, as it eliminates queuing and provides greater autonomy for the shopper.

Various technologies are helping fashion stores make this shift. Zliide is one example, where customers can pay via the Zliide app in-store when they select an item. Then, near-field communication (NFC) technology releases the security tag on the clothing item, allowing the customer to take it out of the store.

Just walk out experiences coming into fashion

Retail Futurist Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR speaking at a Scandit Expert Panel Debate.

Like other convenient services, such as mobile Point of Sale apps, it reduces queueing and eliminates any checkout friction. It also streamlines security, which is especially relevant for high-end fashion retailers that need to security tag expensive merchandise.

Using RFID tags, another fashion store is using app-based self-checkout technology in an alternative way. The process they use deactivates the exit alarms for paid-for items, allowing customers to take their shopping from the store unhindered.

Such use of technology where you focus on the customer having their own self-service convenience using their own device from product selection to purchase is great for boosting profits and minimizing walk-out rates. Jessica Grisolia, Head of Retail Industry Solutions, Scandit

Trend 6: Near-me retail reviving the convenience of local shopping

Another fashion retail technology trend is local shopping. Despite the rise in e-commerce, there has been an upswing in interest for consumers searching for local retail outlets.

The technology that facilitates this allows brands to show customers what local store inventory levels are like. They can then order for collection within, say, 30 minutes.

Zara is using near-me retail technology. Customers can buy online as normal or can use the store mode to see only the inventory in their local store.

How near me retail works

Retail Futurist Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder of GDR speaking at a Scandit Expert Panel Debate.

Using click and collect from local stores, though, brands can save money on shipping costs, which preserves their margins. The customer can check clothing and footwear for fit when they collect in the store, rather than having lots of items delivered and perhaps later needing to return those that are unsuitable.

This also preserves inventory, freeing it to be purchased by other customers.

With the adoption of this app-based local inventory visibility, the retail store is increasingly becoming the logistics hub for e-commerce, whether for click and collect or home delivery.

Having the right technology in place helps retailers to deliver seamless omnichannel operations. One large US fashion retailer is a good example. They use Scandit Smart Data Capture on smart devices for multiple mobile apps to support retail operations. With 6+ apps loaded and ready to go on each smart device, employees are able to do in-store or back-of-house tasks seamlessly.

During the pandemic, they reacted to store closures by accelerating the launch of their ship-from-store services in as little as 6 weeks.

They were able to do this thanks to their strategy of equipping each employee with a smartphone, and the enhanced inventory accuracy and visibility gained by empowering them to easily scan and update backend systems in near real-time. It also helps them deliver the flexibility to shift inventory from stores to e-commerce and in both directions.

Summarizing the future shape of fashion retail

It’s clear that in-store fashion retail trends are taking shopping to a much greater experiential level.

Technology is being used to enrich the customer experience and to meet the needs and expectations of what is an increasingly digital target market.

Fashion retail technology is also empowering employees and seamlessly connecting the e-commerce and in-store experience.

Not all these trends will be right for every fashion store. But brands that want to be perceived as being as fashion-trend setting as their own apparel lines will want to adopt one or more of them now.

For more information on the future of physical fashion retail, and to gain an insight into the opportunities that fashion retail technology presents, watch our webinar, Boom or Doom: Is Your Fashion Store Relevant in 2022.

Or please contact us to start a conversation about how smart data capture could help your fashion retail business stay on trend.

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