Executives from Amazon, EasySize, Evo Pricing and Lectra explored uses for customer data during the roundtable event

Executives from Amazon, EasySize, Evo Pricing and Lectra explored uses for customer data during the roundtable event

The multiple ways in which the fashion industry's ecosystem can use customer data was the focus of a recent roundtable discussion – with panellists agreeing its impact spans everything from customer satisfaction, to competitiveness, revenues or waste limitation.

The event, held during the fifth Fashion Tech Week in Paris, was organised by technology firm Lectra, French business school ESCP Europe and their joint 'Fashion & Technology' chair.

Applications for the analysis of customer data along the entire fashion value chain begin as early as the design phase, where a wealth of data offers many sources of inspiration for stylists.

For teams in charge of collections, "complex models allow the analysis of data like online traffic and purchase history in order to design and offer the products that consumers expect, which is a priority for a company obsessed by the customer, like Amazon," explained Elise Beuriot, senior category leader, EU Luggage, Amazon.

For sales, "decisions based on data trigger millions of orders. The impact on the inventory is enormous," she added.

Fabrizio Fantini, founder and CEO, Evo Pricing, noted that: "Fashion is an industry where unsold items generate a lot of waste. Algorithms and big data analysis can reduce leftovers by anticipating demand several weeks ahead in order to optimise the price and replenishment.

"Fashion companies who exploit data to inform their decisions become more efficient. They are better armed to protect their margins, but can also sell for less, and potentially reach a larger number of consumers."

Other IT models aggregate customer data in real time 'to determine, among hundreds of factors, those which have the biggest influence on buying decisions," claimed Gulnaz Khusainova, founder and CEO of Easysize.

"Value doesn't necessarily lie in the volume of data but in the depth of the analyses." She said Easysize is careful that collected data is anonymous, because "consumers need to keep control of their data, and know how it is used."

For editors of software dedicated to fashion businesses, and suppliers of cutting machines designed for the clothing industry, "analysing usage data from our solutions enables the offer to evolve, making each step in the value chain more efficient and perfectly adapted to the needs of the brands, retailers and manufacturers," explained Olivier Dancot, VP of data at Lectra. "What is at stake is better quality products, placed on the market as quickly as possible and at a reduced cost."

However Céline Abecassis-Moedas, professor and co-scientific director of the 'Fashion & Technology' chair and moderator of the roundtable, noted: "It is easy to collect data, but difficult to extract actionable information. Everything hinges on data analysis.

"Due to its emotional dimension – from the stylist's inspiration to the consumer's desire to buy – fashion is not an industry like others. However, all the components that make up its ecosystem can truly benefit from the judicious exploitation of customer data."