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Digital Insider: Dan Goldman on the digital maturity of the fashion industry

Gabriela Porto
Gabriela Porto December 3, 2021
Digital Insider: Dan Goldman on the digital maturity of the fashion industry

The global fashion industry relies heavily on its customers and what they can get from their shopping experiences. The decision process of buying an apparel piece is not only based on the stores available near your house. Now, in the palm of your hands, you can access any kind of store you want and buy from anywhere. This is all thanks to the digital evolution of ecommerce and new consumer behaviors that have been popping up throughout the years.

But, how mature is the fashion industry and what can we learn from the development curve that happened in the past decades? Digital Insider invited a seasoned expert to share some perceptions from the past and a glimpse on future trends and strategies.

Meet the guest

Dan Goldman is a business expert focused on the fashion industry, having transitioned between consultancy, brand management and strategy in companies like North Face, McKinsey and P&G, for over the last 20 years. He currently occupies the position of Head of Strategy at GAP Inc, a portfolio company that has over 50 years in the market and that is home to iconic American brands such as GAP, Old Navy and Banana Republic.

This big experience in the consumer retail sector has given him the privilege of taking a closer glimpse at the fashion industry’s transformation journey not only in the United States but also globally. New digital capabilities, customer-centric experiences and omnichannel retail have been just some of the things that Dan was able to implement and learn more about through first-hand experiences.

“Ecommerce has been the fundamental driving change across retail over the last 20 years and it has revolutionised how and where brands interact with consumers. But also, from a consumer perspective, there was an explosion of choice. Now, any consumer can go online and see hundreds of brands which means that every brand has to be better and elevate to win. Consumers ultimately have choice and power where it used to be the brands and the retailers to have that power.”

Dan Goldman, Head of Strategy at Gap Inc.

The power of connected brand channels

Taking a look back at how the apparel industry evolved, Dan leads us through the path of the impactful role digital technologies played for fashion brands and how that changed their business outcomes. It was a long way from separate units and teams and clunky customer experiences, to what we see today as a digital ecommerce experience.

This is not only thanks to cutting-edge technologies but also from improving team quality and hiring people with the necessary skills to develop solid online commerce strategies for these brands. Today, every process is more integrated with the goal of designing a seamless experience across every channel.

But the digital transformation doesn’t mean the death of brick and mortar stores or any kind of other channels in favor of the ecommerce website. The secret of connected brand channels is making sure to deliver the best customer experience and have them remember your brand, whether it was online, in-store or even through a partner store.

“The secret is a little bit of a balance between effectiveness, broad reach, efficiency and hyper-targeting. I think that’s true in channel management. It really is about creating great brand experiences where you’re driving awareness, excitement and energy around your brand. Then, people get exposed to your products in new ways. 

Maybe they don’t purchase in your stores, but they remember what they want to buy. And then they go to the nearest store, which may be your partner store and maybe online and make that acquisition.”

Dan Goldman, Head of Strategy at Gap Inc.

Fostering technological innovation in fashion

Being in the digital sphere is not enough, you have to invest in technology and in online innovation in order to excel in the industry. Now it is time for retailers to invest in big data and technological proficiency and literacy. This starts with manpower and that is one of the biggest challenges for fashion brands today: getting knowledgable talent on board in order to improve operations in the digital channels.

“I think that every company, not just retailers, needs to have tech capabilities to compete in the future. And more and more, big data, AI machine learning are going to be critical to driving the business because there’s so much data retailers can use and benefit from.”

Dan Goldman, Head of Strategy at Gap Inc.

This process of change was fast, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. In the Digital Insider podcast, Dan also shared some tips for brands on: 

  • how to make the digital transformation smoother; 
  • where to invest next;
  • what they can look forward for the future of the retail industry. 
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