What with the progress of the consumer society, people’s consuming habits have changed. Indeed, not only they consume and buy more, but they crave for speed. This explain the fact that the “binge” phenomenon is not restrained to “binge drinking” anymore, but extended to “binge watching” for television series or “binge shopping”. Also, people demand easiness: they refuse to suffer from constrains and they want to get rid of anything that could hamper their direct access to what they desire. As a result to this state of fact, Netflix has been providing its subscribers with ad libitum access to their favorite episodes for years now. So, why not for clothes?
A CLOTHING SPEED-DATING
Recently, two new personal assistant apps have appeared, aiming at helping people to find their ideal piece of clothing. First, Mona that relies on a “personalization, simplification and aggregation” system, where the consumers give inputs about their personal preferences and Mona answers with propositions. Mona also plays the role of a personal assistant, as it can recall people to buy new sport shoes six months after their previous purchase. Then, Fynd where the consumer has to give several words to describe what he wants and then choose what corresponds best to his expectations. These two apps also facilitate the mere action of buying, as they automatically redirect their consumers to platform where they can buy the clothes.
Both these apps are about finding the perfect match between the consumers and the clothes, based on the app’s capacity to know and understand its user. Indeed, these applications use data intelligence in order to reach every time a better knowledge of the users. Like a real human being, the application benefits of every new contact to get to know its user better. Here we cannot help but noticing that the application designers are trying to copy human behaviors for their productions’ operation.
However, more than simply replacing the traditional buyer-seller interaction by a very accurate selection for the consumer, these apps’ goal is to cast off all the constraints that can hamper or at least reduce the buying process. People do not need to go from one shop to another anymore, they do not need to interact with sellers who can waste their time and hence spare themselves a lot of time and annoyances. But even more important, they do not need to think anymore as Mona or Fynd are doing it for them. If the application gets to know them enough, the pieces of clothing proposed will precisely meet their expectations and the users will only have to draw their credit card. Another example is the case of the French department store Galeries Lafayette with its new Monsieur Lafayette service. After registering and giving several inputs about himself, the (male) consumer will receive a pack with clothes propositions. If he likes these, he can keep the clothes (and buy them); if not, he can send these back. Speed dating with the clothes seems to be the future of shopping.
A BRAND NEW RETAIL SYSTEM?
The appearance of these applications raises the issue of the evolution of the retail system. With the progress of digital and all the advantages brought by new technologies, changes need to be done in the retail field order to keep pace with consumers’ lifestyle. Three elements tend to shape the new retail experience and both Mona and Fynd epitomize this change. First, people want access to their services at any moment. With the global spreading of smartphones, tablets and even computers, consumers have gained a virtual 24-hour a day access to all the possible services, and shopping makes no exception to it. Second, the consumers are fond of simplicity and appreciate to avoid all type of complications. As a result, they give more and more importance to applications that take care of the annoying things instead of them. Third, even if they are getting used to communicate via Internet or virtual reality, they are not willing to sacrifice their requirements in terms of personalization of the service. Thus, they expect from all the buying services to offer proper responses to their desires. Three elements that are highlighted by the main concept of Mona, which is defined as: a “concierge-like experience for consumers looking for top-notch recommendations on what to buy”. The objective is to give the consumers the impression that they are almost talking to sellers, to people who are able to advise them so that they still consider it as a good buying experience. This explains the growth of chats between the brands and the consumers, where consumers connect with the brand thanks to a virtual interface. Why should these interfaces copy human interactions? Maybe because even if digital and technology are spreading, people cannot help but thinking that human interactions are more effective.
Also interesting is the fact that these applications permit to subtly introduce push marketing. Indeed, under the guise of giving consumer pieces of advice, Mona and Fynd encourage the consumption by suggesting various clothes. Push marketing works by the different answers provided by the application which aim at being as large as people expectations permit it, but also by its capacity to track the consumer’s needs during the utilization and after it by inbox. What seems to be pretty insidious is that the knowledge of the application about its consumer evolves and improves with each interaction. Paradoxically this is not in favor of the consumers, but on the contrary helps the app to “trap” them better. These apps, even if they seem to make everything easier for the consumer, in reality are a very accurate way to push people to spend money. And it is only logical that these pocket personal assistants propose the users a facilitated way to buy the suggested items.
So, here is the thing. Both these applications are real war machines to encourage people to consume and buy. They are based on two different technics aspiring at convincing the consumers. On one hand, Mona and Fynd are designed to copy and mimic human interactions. Hence, they gain the trust of their users who feel good, well taken care of and better and better understood. The human aspect seduces the users. On the other hand, the computational part is meant to be effective. The robot hidden behind these applications is data intelligent and takes advantage of people’s trust to improve its suggestions and increase the consumption. So, personal shopping apps seems to be a successful future of binge fashion.
Post written by Sarah Banon, Contributor
Graduate student from French Business School ESSEC, Sarah is passionate about fashion and spends her free time writing. She is very curious and likes to discover and study new trends. She joined Clausette Magazine in May 2016.