By Vijay Kumar Nagalingam and Rekha Kodali
The paper presents an opportunity to build a Sustainable SaaS platform for fashion industry, powered by Metaverse using Azure and Dynamics 365 as the base platform. This platform can be used by fashion designers to collaborate and share their designs, by retail stores to provide virtual store tours and campaigns, by end-consumers to virtually groom themselves with clothing, footwear, jewelry, and cosmetics before purchase. The target market for this SaaS platform can be online shopping sites, offline retailers, fashion designers, freelancers, and end-consumers.
The Opportunity: Fashion in Metaverse
Retail’s Responsible Reset is the new imperative. Why is a reset needed? Because the industry was rocked to its foundations by the pandemic and retailers must now contend with a very different commercial landscape and customer expectations.
The Metaverse Continuum will transform how retailers interact with customers, how work is done, what products and services companies offer, how they make and distribute them, and how they operate their organizations.
Through this whitepaper we bring to light how brands can leverage the Store of Tomorrow, Store Experience Design and Store Operating Model, Personalized Experience, Channel-less, Brand Visibility and Metaverse, to define Commerce of the Future for their products.
The ecommerce fashion industry is forecasted to reach $1 trillion by 2025. However, the pandemic has slowed down the progress by impacting footfalls to stores, by gloomy festival spending and by declining luxury fashion sales. However, the pandemic has also opened below gaps in the fashion industry which allows to ideate a platform to resolve these:
- Blooming online shopping sites for targeted fashion like clothing, eyewear, footwear, jewelry etc., but limited platforms which provide one-stop shop for all.
- ARPU (Average Revenue per User) in fashion industry is dominated by China and USA, but other countries are lagging in ARPU due to lack of fashion products access.
- New brands have evolved but have limited sales due to poor access to many markets.
- Improved fashion awareness among millennials due to social media, but limited sources for millennials to access variety in fashion.
- Fashion retail industry generates large solid waste annually with approx. 40% not being managed in an environmentally safe manner. There is need to build a platform of sustainable and green fashion.
These gaps allow us to validate an opportunity to build a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) platform which provides following services:
- Ability to fashion industry manufacturers, partners, and consumers to experience fashion products virtually before taking purchase or manufacturing decision.
- Ability to choose accessories, footwear, eyewear, clothing etc. from different brands or websites, and virtually experience in a single window.
- Ability for retail stores to design and arrange their store facility remotely through technologies like augmented reality.
- Ability for companies in fashion business to manage their suppliers, stores, vendors, sites, and other partners on cloud.
- Ability to capture and process data to get insights into consumer fashion preferences.
- Ability to do social and digital marketing campaigns through a platform integrated with social channels.
- To provide a platform for fashion designers to design, try and promote their designs through virtual models replicating persons in sports, movies, or showbiz industries or through virtual environments representing occasions, festivals, or cultures.
- A platform for small fashion providers to manage operations through pay per user monthly service, rather spending huge capital on software or office spaces.
- Climate change is a major driver for enterprise innovation, as organizations are under immense pressure to accelerate their sustainability goals and achieve net zero, while generating economic growth and new opportunity. Ability to adopt Sustainability by creating a unique marketplace for recycling footwear/clothes/jewelry. It will improve sustainability by allowing end users to recycle and redesign products.
Solution: Building blocks for Fashion Metaverse Platform on Microsoft platform
The services as mentioned above can be made available for subscription by businesses or by individuals in fashion industry through a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform. The key building blocks of this platform can be:
- SaaS Offering: The platform should be available as a SaaS offering on Azure, ready to be accessed remotely and complying to data privacy and to data protection requirements.
- Metaverse: The platform should allow users to create multiple virtual worlds, similar to social gaming platforms like Roblox or Fortnite, where an individual or a group can enter existing virtual world or create own virtual world. The virtual world should be more relatable to fashion industry with features to draw, design, animate using no-code or low-code development.
Given below are the foundation technologies that can be leveraged to build the platform using Microsoft technologies:
- CRM: The platform should have pre-created and configurable tables to store data generated in day-to-day business-like customer data, products data etc. It should also have configurable portals, forms, business processes and business rules ( like Dynamics365) for businesses to store data and transactions.
- Augmented Reality: Ability to overlay the real images, designs or environments with visual elements like painting, drawing or labeling tools or with graphics like photoshop.
- Device Integrations with virtual reality: The platform needs to have ability to integrate with devices like Microsoft HoloLens, Rearview and other virtual reality gears.
- API ready environment: Ability to integrate with through API to other systems like customer applications, databases, shopping sites, social media, or payment systems.
- Sustainable Retail Marketplace: Metaverse enabled marketplace with immersive digital experience which allows suppliers and customers to recycle old goods, redesign new products. Each of the products will have a green score which indicates the eco friendliness of the product.
- Waste Management: Reduce the waste problem in retail industry through a unique marketplace for recycling and buying footwear which will be built on 4 R pillar of – Reuse, Recycle, Reimagine and Refurbishment leading to increased Topline and customer loyalty for firms while giving a hyper-personalized experience to consumers.
The business benefits are immense and what ecommerce apps have done to small retailers etc. The benefits can be seen as below from customer perspective:
- Fashion Retail Store as a subscriber:
- To create own fashion metaverse, which can be joined by its loyal customers to browse stores and purchase fashion products virtually.
- Ability to collaborate with their stores remotely in Fashion Metaverse for store space design, product demonstration and campaign creation.
- Ability to access ekarts, past orders or account information through integrated CRM and show relevant products in Metaverse to customers.
- Can visit store remotely through augmented reality.
- Fashion Designer/Professional as a subscriber:
- Can design and edit designs in metaverse.
- Can collaborate with team for edits and redesign.
- Can invite clients to their metaverse for fashion show.
- Can use the virtual models of models for fashion shows and campaigns.
- Can sell their fashion products to businesses.
- Ecommerce Site as a subscriber:
- Can create metaverse where customers can explore different fashion products and check their looks before making purchase decisions.
- Can create groups and fashion community who can participate in campaigns, give feedback and purchase.
- To be socially responsible while having a sustainable sales pipeline and engaged customers who will return
- A large corporate as a subscriber:
- Can provide a virtual world for their employees to work, design and collaborate.
- Manage CRM and do marketing demos, campaigns, roadshows in metaverse to its customers, partners, and vendors. Integrate its existing CRM or utilize inbuilt CRM for day-to-day processes.
- For the Consumer:
- Hyper-personalized products at lower cost, value for old merchandise, sense of satisfaction by being eco friendly consumers.
- The consumer can sell/give back old clothes/items, parts to the marketplace.
The consumer can design their own end products using the old products giving them the satisfaction of contributing to sustainability.
This paper tries to discover an idea to build a Metaverse based SaaS platform for Fashion Industry. The platform can be made available for subscription by professionals and by corporate in fashion world to create their own Metaverse or a virtual world to collaborate, to design fashion products, to provide virtual capability to their customer to access their products, to design space of stores remotely and to build a virtual community of fashion.
Vijay Kumar Nagalingam: 14+ years of IT consulting experience in implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Apps for clients in Financial Services, Automobile, Manufacturing, Mining, Hi-tech and Public Services domain. Experience includes digital transformation consulting, business analysis, requirements gathering, functional design, project management and pre-sales. Hands-on configuration experience in Dynamics 365 for Sales, Customer Service, Marketing and Field Service modules including extensions like CRM Portal Add-on, PowerBI, Sales Insights, Customer Insights and PowerApps.
LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/nvijaykiran
Rekha Kodali is a Principal Director in Accenture. With more than 23 years of experience in Microsoft Technologies, her focus areas include Azure, Enterprise Architecture, Sustainability, Composable Architectures, Presales and Innovation. She has been instrumental in creating differentiated solutions and service offerings. Her certifications include TOGAF, IASA certified Foundation Architect and Azure Solutions Architect Expert and several other MS certifications. She has published multiple research papers and published 2 books on Azure.