On 5 June 2019, The Collective by Lewis Silkin brought together a range of industry experts to answer this very question, and to share insights and real use examples of how technology is disrupting the luxury space. Chaired by Cliff Fluet, partner at Lewis Silkin and Managing Director of Eleven Advisory, the event shone a spotlight on some of the burgeoning challenges facing luxury operators, and where technology can address these concerns, helping businesses stay ahead of consumer trends.
Leveraging technology to enhance in-store experiences
For Heikki Haldre, from the Future of Retail Organisation, the fact that fashion is such a visual and tangible experience makes it difficult for luxury retailers to take full advantage of online platforms in the same way as other retailers. Instead, luxury brands can make better use of technology to improve customer experiences through investment in the in-store experience. Although most of the recent conversations relating to retail have revolved around the ‘death of the high street’, Heikki suggested that there is still hope for traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. What luxury brands must do, according to Heikki, is to understand the reasonwhy consumers want to come into a particular store and focus future investments in developing technology solutions around this.
The importance of predicting personalised consumer ‘moments’
Personalised consumer experience remained an area of focus throughout the evening, particularly for Abhi Shek, CEO of on-device AI software company NumberEight. According to Abhi, focusing on the contextual ‘moment’ where a person experiences a product, provides an opportunity for companies and brands to better engage with consumers. But how do you predict when and where these ‘moments’ will be? NumberEight’s team of scientists and engineers have developed on-device artificial intelligence to predict these user contexts, which can then be leveraged by luxury brands to tailor their engagement with consumers. However, Abhi also pointed out that consumer privacy should never be an afterthought when developing AI, and that on-device capabilities can deliver the best applications while at the same time ensuring consumer’s trust.
Blockchain – a machine for creating and reducing the cost of trust
As Cliff Fluet noted, when people are first confronted with AI, or any new technology, most tend to see a weapon, rather than a force for good. However, for Oliver Oram, the CEO of Chainvine, technology can in fact reduce the cost of trust, and enable everyone within a product supply chain to share accurate data. Chainvine’s work with different commodities, including high-end luxury goods, utilises blockchain and distributed ledger technology to reduce friction in international trade and help eliminate fraud.
These innovative technologies can also provide consumers with the full story of a product. The ‘intelligent wine’ sampled by The Collective members after the panel discussion, could tell you details from each stage of its production and export journey, and it is this ‘intelligence’ that aids greater transparency and trust. As well as this Dr Rajiv Mathur, Chainvine’s Chief Technology Officer, stated that their technology was an open ecosystem that could be used across different industries, and as such DLT systems and blockchain could enable a different way of doing business without disrupting current processes.
Fundamentally, technology has the power to transform the luxury business – from smart supply chain management through to innovative customer experiences. The Collective by Lewis Silkin is excited to continue exploring these trends with members – if you would like to join or have an idea for a future event topic then get in touch.