FIYB Highlights – Ep. 93: “Thinking Differently”

James Bullough Street Art (1)


On this episode of Fashion Is Your Business, Robin Copland (VP of Retail for North America) and Dianne Inniss (Retail Principal for Customer Experience) of ThoughtWorks, a global technology consultant and software development firm, join Pavan Bahl, Rob Sanchez and Marc Raco on the floor of the Innovation Center of the 2016 eCommerce Show USA in Atlanta, GA.

Tech Coming to Front (And Back And Everywhere)

Over their 20 years in business, ThoughtWorks has noticed a shift in the relationship between technology and business. For many companies, utilization of technology in business has evolved from a support function into a driving component which often determines success or failure. This is especially true with retailers who use technology to connect with consumers. Expect to see this trend to continue as connective technologies becomes more prevalent in our everyday lives. Going forward, brands need to think of the full customer journey, not just in the store or online, but developing all the consumer touch points into a full and seamless experience.

Designing Solutions

As a boutique firm, Thoughtworks can give their ambitious clients comprehensive service to solve unique problems. A key in solving unique problems is asking the the right questions. This questioning process often guides clients to think differently and discover previously unrealized needs. This leads into the quasi-motto: Build the right products and build them well. The Thoughtworks team thinks of themselves as craftsmen of sorts.

Copland talks about design in relation to the customer “journey” including experience and service design. Companies are structured around their own solution to problem that a customer might like or not. The key is to start from the customer’s position. Thoughtworks also help their clients shift their business model to factor in forward thinking that allows for maximum adaptation to a constantly changing environment.

How Can The Store Help You?

Pavan brings up his experience in Apple Stores with portable POS (point-of-sale) devices and asks what technology excites Robin and Diane right now. Diane brings up the field of assisted selling which helps customers find the right product that provides a solution to something in their life. With fashion, it might be in-store technology that assists them in placing items among their current wardrobe. Robin adds that it’s also about empowering the store associates. He explains that the brick and mortar store is still the ultimate expression of a brand’s ethos which is getting the customer experience right is so important. Robin also highlights the move toward the Internet of Things and the connected home.

The Millennial Consumer

The millennial customer, who may not have a lot of buying power but engages with brands in a completely different way than consumers in other age groups. Brands need to retool in order to appeal to this type of consumer. Social media used to be seen as unimportant for brands a decade ago and now apps are in a similar role now. Customer needs are constant and technology amplifies people’s behavior. Never too soon to think ahead, brands are even preparing for the generation after: Generation Z.

Sephora: Meeting a Customer Face-to-Face

Sephora is brought up as a brand that’s thinking ahead. Everyone agrees that it’s a company that’s connecting touch points with customers and thinking about loyalty. The brand is using augmented reality to create an ongoing interest among their customer base.

Thought-Working, Building & Searching

When discussing ThoughtWorks’ R& D for evolving technologies., Diane explains about their innovation lab and their team dedicated to scouring out emerging technology. Some of their current focus is on IOT, block chain, and sensor technologies. Robin adds that the company publishes Technology Radar quarterly newsletter which CIO’s use as a guide to adopt technologies. The company also hosts Hackathons (Hacklab Night) and works with Parsons/XRC Labs.


Artwork Credit: James Bullough


Alex Tunney

Alex is Managing Editor of Open Source Fashion. His work has appeared in The Billfold, Lambda Literary, The Inquisitive Eater and The Ink and Code. Alex earned his MFA in Creative Writing from The New School.