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IRC 2015 INTERVIEW David Lindsay of on fashion and technology

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Each week in the run up to Internet Retailing Conference (IRC) 2015 we’re previewing the conference through a series of overviews of the day’s programme and through interviews with key speakers. Today we hear from David Lindsay, senior vice president technology, at who will be speaking at IRC on the relationship between fashion and technology.

Internet Retailing: What, in your view, is the single biggest benefit that the internet has brought to fashion shoppers so far?

David Lindsay, senior vice president, technology, at For the luxury market, I think it’s two-fold. Firstly, and most obviously, access to products that you might not have been able to get without travelling. Secondly, and related to the first part, you no longer have to put up with the snooty shop assistant thing, you know, that bit in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts goes into the store in Rodeo Drive and gets treated like poop? That. Gone. On the Internet, nobody judges you by how you look or what you’re wearing…

IR: What has been the biggest challenge retailers have had to face in order to make selling clothes online so popular?

DL: Again, two-fold. Firstly, securing enough supply in order to have a great range. For the lux market, this has meant changing the way brands see the Internet from ‘pile-em-high, sell-em-cheap’ to ‘full-price, first-season, luxury presentation’. Still an ongoing battle but one which is largely already won. Secondly, building consumer confidence in your company. As well as having the range, this encompasses everything from creating quality editorial and maintaining high production values (photography, product descriptions, etc.) through to speedy delivery and exceptionally helpful customer service. Consumers are very savvy and this helps to keep retailers on their toes and innovating.

IR: What do you think will be the most significant influence on the way fashion is sold online/across channels in the years to come?

DL: Most recently, social media changed a lot of the retail industry, adding new channels and ways of interacting with our consumers across those channels. However, there’s still a lot of nonsense talked about multi-channel and omni-channel with a lot of retailers claiming to be one or the other because they offer a click & collect service and have an Instagram account. I’m all for embracing ‘uni-channel’ – doesn’t matter how a customer interacts with a brand or business, or where they buy. What’s important is that they DO buy and that they are completely satisfied with the experience (and that the systems are ‘joined up’ enough to record the transaction and deal with any dissatisfaction appropriately). I’m not aware of any retailer who has properly cracked this yet but by god we’re trying…

IR: What’s your favourite use of technology in fashion retail – and what’s a use of technology that you’d like to see become a reality in future?

DL: I’m a firm believer in subtlety (in this regard, at least): technology has to aid the shopper and never get in the way. I find a lot of front-end solutions really quite annoying and disconnected (I’m at that difficult age when I get needlessly irritated quite easily). Still, the biggest changes need to happen in the back-office – data connectivity is key, particularly around the product, as that enables more effective and lighter front-end functionality. I love the Internet of Things and the concepts around that – in Farfetch we talk about the Internet of Lovely Things which is the luxury fashion equivalent. It’s an industry-encompassing big idea but it’s moving in all the right directions…

IR: What are you most looking forward to at Internet Retailing Conference 2015, aside from your own presentation?

DL: Always nice to catch up with other folks in the industry, I don’t do it enough. Hopefully there’ll be mini-croissants and some quality coffee, too…

David Lindsay’s opening keynote presentation, Future Ball Gazing: Lessons from a Fashionista, Understanding the Relationship Between Fashion and Technology, is in Stream 2: Products and Services at IRC 2015 at 11.20am. Find out more about the event, the conference line-up and the exhibition by visiting

We have 10 access-all-areas delegates passes to give away at IRC 2015. Read this story to find out how to enter.

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