Challenging the sceptical view that consumers would not buy apparel and accessories without feeling the fabric and testing for size and look, online fashion sales is growing fast. Yet, the myriad of recent business model developments in the sector depicts a disorderly environment lacking
frameworks and typologies to facilitate understanding and explain different business propositions.
This document reports the findings of a sectoral exploratory study that was developed in the fashion retail sector. The main objective of the project was to provide the parent project NEMODE with a perspective of new business model developments and improvements that emerged in the fashion retail sector through developments in the digital economy. The report points out example cases showing business model innovations in the sector, the core functionalities the models implement and key digital technologies and platforms enabling the core functionalities of the business models.
The project was an exploratory investigation that was developed in a short period of time (3 months). Thus, an exploratory approach involving environmental scanning was the investigation method used to identify business model innovations in the sector. The environmental scanning comprised searches on the internet, literature review of academic journals, business reports and press articles, and visits to fashion retailers in the UK.
The study focused upon business models in the fashion retail sector which are using digital technologies to implement conceptual models based upon personal subscription, mass customisation, social merchandising and collaborative consumption concepts and functionalities.
The main findings of the study show a widespread adoption of customer-oriented and social networking concepts and practices across different business models in the sector, which now faces a more complex scenario of relationships to manage. The study also shows that many fashion retailers are using digital technologies to “dematerialize” fitting or dressing rooms in form of “virtual fitting rooms” or “interactive mirrors” in order to create optimum value/cost outcomes. On the other hand, the “materialization” of customised designs through 3D printers is liberating people from constraints of time, space, actor and constellation. It is also possible to notice different degrees of technological
mobilisations (i.e. different technological densities) created by different fashion retailers and these densities seem to be gradually shaping new “time-space-actor-constellations” models in the fashion retail sector where digital technologies play a vital role.