2012 For Fashion & Tech Companies

2012 For Fashion & Tech Companies

Smart, creative, unpredictable, energetic, ambitious, passionate, charismatic… the year of the dragon is here!  I’ve summed up what I believe the following year will be like in tech, business, and fashion. 

Here’s the type of climate that we’re living in:

Optimism will prevail, but politics and the economy will continue to add to instability, translating into continued struggles in hiring for and funding new businesses.

Physical stores will continue to shrink and close, but this is a market correction.

There will be a continued blurring of the line between editorial and commerce. All companies that have something to sell should be thinking of themselves as media companies (Burberry is winning at this game). Additionally, all media companies have to think of themselves as shopping platforms as well. Despite the consumer’s acceptance of these blurring lines, integrity remains important.

The love affair between high fashion and fine arts museums will reach a fever pitch this year. (10 to see, from Fashionista.)

Here in New York City, we will continue to be affected by an investment bubble, but experienced investors will always see through the hype. New York continues to become a dominating player in the tech scene.

The BRIC countries continue to be a focus for growth, but businesses must focus on perfecting the fundamentals at home – for the sake of their own survival.

On the rise:

We will get more robust and meaningful analytics for social businesses.

Bigger budgets should and will be allotted for emerging platforms (mobile, tablet) and markets (those BRIC countries, men, blue-collar consumers).

Those mobile and emerging platforms remain a MUST GET RIGHT area for all businesses.

Many people predict that Facebook will IPO this year. Regardless, F-commerce will continue to be important, and Google+ will continue it’s energetic push onto the business scene.

Cashless payments will continue in importance. Square will have a huge year, and Google wallet will continue to gain market share.

Original content continues to be acknowledged as increasingly important, as a backlash against meaningless aggregation continues. Good companies will develop content strategies at the same time that they plan design and development strategies. (My friend Kristina Halvorson wrote a great book about this.)

Hybrid models are, in my opinion, some of the smartest business models out there. Companies like Shoptiques or reQoop that combine online and offline shopping are poised to win big.

The rise of peer to peer will give way to new business models. There will be p2p selling (see: Poshmark), p2p advice (see: Buyosphere), and p2p lending (see: Neighborgoods).

Hardcore geek science will have a sexy, sexy year in 2012. Personally, I am obsessed with the possibilities of 3D printing (post forthcoming). Augmented reality platforms will continue to make strides (but not have a breakthrough year yet), and increasingly complex algorithms and the aforementioned sophisticated analytics will empower the thinking businesses.

Peaking this year:

These will be the peak years for mobile apps. Stand alone apps remain important, but in the next few years, we will see the separation between the “mobile” web disappear as all good sites will be built with responsive and content-first design built in.

This is the year to perfect video strategy. Video will not be going anywhere, but companies that successfully execute meaningful video programs will pull ahead of the pack. (See our post about the top players in the fashion video field here.)

Checks-ins have been successfully integrated into the daily lives of early adopters, and location based marketing and experiences will start to filter out even more into the masses. Fashion will continue to clamber onto this bandwagon.

This will be the year of SubCom, or subscription commerce. Consumers are becoming comfortable doing business in this way, and many more sites will pop up – but contraction will begin before the end of the year. (We highlighted a few sites here.)

In the wake of SubCom will be a spate of re-commerce focused companies.

On the decline: 

Coupon and daily deals sites are on the declining end of their life span, as a backlash continues from both businesses and consumers.

Fashion bloggers will remain important, but the idea that they are all-powerful will dissipate, and only the most focused and professional will continue to receive perks greater than free clothes.

Flash sale sites have reached saturation point, and there will be contraction in this market as the top players knock off the smaller ones. Gilt, through deft management and hefty investment, will continue to rule this school. Flash sales as an element of diverse selling stratgies, however, will continue to be important.

Companies will no longer be able to experiment with each new social media channel. Resources will dictate a more thoughtful and nuanced approach, and consumers will stop expecting that every brand will be on every channel.

Things to remember: 

Openness continues to be vital. There are API’s to be leveraged, knowledge to share, services to build on top of, and open source software platforms to be utilized. Thus, many of these trends can be leveraged at low cost. The price for entry to much of this openness is a willingness to learn about and participate in these economies and communities, with the companies that can open up the most easily benefitting greatly. This favors smaller, more agile companies.

YouTube has successfully reinvented itself, and continues to be an important platform. The site had a trillion playbacks in 2011. This is important.

People still love games and gaming perks. Don’t underestimate the power of simple points and badges as an element to your social media and community strategies.

Go where your customers already are. Observe their behaviour, predict their patterns, and suss out the new pain points.

In summary: 

This year is going to move quickly, and the ability to observe and adapt to change is more important the ability to master any single element. Looking backwards or believing that there will be little innovation due to the chaotic political and economic climate will cost you. Look ahead, but make sure that you continue to look around you as well.

They say that the early bird gets the worm. Well, the hours ruled by the dragon are from 7 am to 9 am, so let’s get up early and make this year happen!

Share your thoughts in the comments or email me at liza (at) this domain (dot) com. And don’t forget, we do consulting!

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Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave.  Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables. Interior images via 1, 2, 3

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