How Google Technology Can Help Fashion Retailers

18 March 2014
Julian Desert

Posted In

In life, things rarely stand still; nothing is constant, and this is especially true in the fashion industry and with fashion retailers. Always ahead of the game and the man on the street, trendsetting fashion houses shape the way we look and they try to dictate our visual identities, all the way from the London to Milan.

This ambition to be ahead of the curve is mirrored in Silicon Valley with the technology giants; Google especially has developed technologies which can enhance and aid our lifestyles. Fashion retailers across the world have been adopting these new technologies and have helped them with their operations, including their sales and marketing processes.

By marrying both the trend setting ethoses of fashion and technology, fashion companies can work in a more efficient manor or even reach a whole new audience.

They can do this with the exciting and groundbreaking products as they roll out of the Googleplex in Santa Clara, California. As with any industry in modern times, technology is at the forefront of operations. By adopting these technologies as they emerge or as they become mainstream, brands are finding it increasingly important to drive sales through mobile or online.

Fashion retailers have begun to innovate and embrace Google technologies including Google+, Google Mapping and Street View, and tablets. In the past two years they have adopted the incredibly innovative yet controversial Google Glass.


Google+ is now the second largest social networking site in the world despite many thinking it to be a failure or an online wasteland. Initially, there was a slow take-up with Google+, but now many companies are moving in, making use of the site’s capabilities and using the many functions and facilities available to them.

Brands use social media to drive conversations between existing customers and prospective customers. By uploading and sharing inspiring content to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and now Google+, brands can have real time dialogues with users and they can share relevant content to people across the world. Brands can shape their image through videos, links, photographs and any creative work which reflects their ethos – this is important with fashion retailers who are basically selling lifestyles or lifestyle choices.

Retailer H&M were early adopters of Google+, they are able to connect with just under one million users, they promote through the social site to engage through a media mix which inspires customers to buy, but importantly it is not overbearing and does not force themselves upon users in a sales-driven manor.

Apparently, H&M has seen its Click Through Rate (CTR) improve by 22% as a result of its activity on Google+; this increase has also led to improved user engagement  including a drastically improved number of comments and shares.

H&M’s high street and catwalk rival Topshop teamed up together with Google+ in 2013 for the London Fashion week; they allowed 4 million customers to take a look at one of their shows at the event which normally would only be seen by a mere 300. The event was broadcast on Google+ as well as Twitter and Youtube as Cara Delevingne and other supermodels stepped out on the catwalk. As well as being able to view the show, the models wore Micro HD cameras which allowed users to see the action from the point of view of the models themselves.

By staging this event, Topshop has become a pioneer and has merged fashion and technology, where these events were once seen as elitist with only VIPs and high flying fashionistas able to be in attendance – anyone can now view. They also can comment (on Google hangouts) and share the events on different networks. This digital interaction will be adopted by many more brands as creative teams think up ever more innovative ways to utilise emerging technologies.

While Facebook still runs the roost, Google+ is becoming ever more popular and as always the fashion industry is striving the stay ahead of the game – after all it is in their nature.

Brands like Burberry, Topshop, Zara and H&M are realising the importance of Google+ in online marketing activities, through the inclusion of bold and bright imaging. They aim to really connect with a particular audience and encourage interactions; content on this network can really boost brand awareness and of course those click throughs will ultimately lead to sales.

When using Google+, fashion retailers should consider these things:

  • Language used

  • Colour palette

  • Their audience

  • Photography

  • Detail (links to other cultural references such as music and movies)

With the right strategy, Google+ can be a great source for customers to meet your brand; innovation of technologies combined with inspiring content can add another important string to the bow of your online activities.

Google+ is a cleaner looking and more thoughtfully designed website than Facebook, but the latter is where a majority of social users still reside. The need for Google+ activity to improve a brand or website search rankings will certainly see a migration the future. This might not be a torrent but a trickle to begin with, but Google+ will have its day in the sun.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is considered to be one of Google+’s most impressive features, if not the most impressive feature. Google is beginning to participate more with the social side of its activities, and fashion brands are using this technology in order to increase engagement. As mentioned above, Topshop’s adoption of Google+ during the 2013 London Fashion Week was an innovative event. It resulted in the biggest partnership between a major brand and Google+ in its relatively short history, Google Hangouts was also a major factor in its success.

Through their fashion week event and Google’s social networking products, Topshop created an interactive event. Both parties utilised everything from micro-cameras to Google Hangouts and used the data to help determine customer buying decisions for the coming season.

The event was well calculated and strategic; Topshop used data from the Google Hangout App to help buyers decide which items will actually be rolled out in stores. Topshop fans and customers actually got to have a say in which items would be bought, influencing the buying decisions which previously were only made by employees high up in the company.

Before the Topshop effort, other fashion retailers had streamed their shows, including Burberry and their usage of Google Glass on the catwalk. Their designer Diane Von Furstenberg dressed runway models in the glasses – this sort of innovation is only in its infancy.

During the first five minutes of the  Diane Von Furstenberg show there were 200,000 media shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

Google Glass

Continuing on from what has been discussed in earlier parts of this post, we will now talk about catwalk modelling and this time focus on Google’s wearable technology. Topshop and Google united in early 2013 to provide an interactive experience which gave online users a chance to get as close to the action as possible; this was through Google+, Google Hangouts and many other social platforms, and of course Google Glass.

Google Glass is the most innovative product that will be discussed in this blog post; the smart headgear acts as a wearable computer and people can record through video or still shots, capturing everything they see or making commands with voice activation technology.

Recently there have been privacy concerns but the ability to look into what were once private events (fashion shows) is what has drawn fashion retailers to Google Glass.

This wearable technology was a part of Diane Von Furstenberg’s fashion week show in New York, as models walked the catwalk they gave users online a point of view in a futuristic experiment which was the first of its kind. The eye level perspective offered an insight into the event in early 2013 in this partnership between Google and the fashion retailer, there are candid shots of models preparing for the catwalk and behind the scenes goings on. This technology poses the question of a possible 24 hour first person reality show; we already have GoPros, but Google intends for its glasses to be worn for longer periods. If there is a market for viewers checking in to see these catwalk shows, there could be many exciting avenues Google and partners could travel down.

Some facts about Google Glass

  • Google has crammed lots of hardware (a camera, GPS, speakers, a microphone and a touchpad) onto such a small product

  • There is a screen over the right eye

  • There is a voice activation system for taking photographs and making calls

  • The glasses have a translation tool which is ideal when doing business with international companies

  • There is no speaker in the glasses, instead sound travels to a Bone Conducting Headphone to send sound directly to the receptors in your ear

  • Contains Google’s mapping service so you will never get lost ever again

The only question for many is which companies will take advantage of this wearable technology and how can brands in the fashion industry or any sector can combine these Google technologies for the greatest effect.

At the minute, the glasses are more technological fashion than fashionable technology; when will the fashion retailers be enlisted to design glasses and sunglasses? Many would love to see a pair of Rayban Clubmasters with the technology especially adapted. In the future, Google could partner up with every major designer on the planet, like Gucci or Police to create fashionable wearables.

So, not only will Google Glass bring fashion into our lives with the Fashion Week events, but the wearables will surely become fashion themselves.

Google Maps / Street View

Next up is the stalwart of Google’s services, certainly Google Maps and Street View have been around for longer than Google+, Hangouts and Google Glass but how has the fashion industry taken to the old man of the group; innovation surely can’t have left it behind.

Google has begun to take users indoors and in September 2013 it was announced that Gucci had opened the interactive doors to its flagship store in Milan. Gucci and Google partnered up to co-create a 360 degree experience to show off the new store and its decor to locals and people around the world. The hope is to attract attention through this innovative marketing technique so that users who visit Gucci’s Google+ page can click through and become a virtual shopper. Users can zoom in, but the feature does not allow for click throughs to purchase items and it is not completely up to date with the very latest luxury lines on the Gucci range.

Brand engagement is now also taking many forms and this is another new way for consumers to really experience a brand, adding to the wealth of other online platforms as well as traditional channels.

Google technologies now have such a wide variety of helpful functions, from your initial search on a Google search bar to finding your nearest Marks and Spencer on Google Maps, their technology really can and does drive consumers to where they want to be.

Brand and technologies have really seen their integration rise in recent years. Firstly mobile technology and social media allowed for greater interaction, but now we are seeing new technologies such as Google Glass, they really weren’t ever going to stay away from the party were they?

We are so integrated now, consumers can access Google search engines while in the store in order to compare prices before making a purchasing decision, but that already has become such a part of the purchasing process that many no longer see it as innovative. How long before these other Google technologies discussed (Google Glass in particular) catches up and are fully normalised?

The future of Google’s technology is incredibly bright, as more and more products are rolled out each year. Already, consumers can order products online while in the store via tablets, or they can have staff check stock for them on their company tablets. These are just some of the ways in which Google technology can be easily integrated into the fashion retail industry.

What do you think? Do you believe Google’s technology has any place within the fashion world? Contact Us

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