Few industries, if any, remain untouched by technology and social media. But this month’s New York Fashion Week was proof that there has been a particularly revolutionary impact on the fashion world. For an industry that can be exclusive and even elitist at times, brands and retailers have shifted gears to build their businesses by sharing.

Tech was the vehicle for which brands shared their shows; the way consumers shopped their favorite looks on-demand; how the customer experience reached new levels of creativity and inclusiveness. From immersive technology to sending a simple text, here are 4 ways fashion brands and retailers are enhancing their customer experience.


Live Streaming & Virtual Reality

Exclusivity is one of the aspects that make fashion week events so highly sought after, but it can also make loyal customers feel, well, left out. By live streaming their runway shows, fashion houses invite consumers to partake in the experience and be part of the conversation in real time.

Allowing consumers to revel in the excitement of the fashion week runway shows creates a customer experience that can be accessed from one’s own device. For this year’s September schedule, NYFW.com live streamed the shows that were held at Skylight at Moynihan Station and Skylight Clarkson Square. Designers including Tommy Hilfiger and Alexander Wang took to their own platforms, providing streaming access on their respective websites.

Some designers even used virtual reality to elevate the experience. Intel and IMG partnered with a handful of labels to live broadcast shows in virtual reality. Using the VOKE GearVR app with a Samsung Gear VR headset, consumers were able to enjoy Band of Outsiders, Prabal Gurung, Erin Fetherston and other shows as a new type of experience.


See Now, Buy Now

Fast fashion is taking on a whole new meaning. We’re living in an era of instant gratification, and retailers must keep up with the impatient demand. So began the direct-to-consumer movement, pioneered by some of the world’s most powerful luxury fashion houses.

This year, Burberry gave its customers access to pre-order runway looks from the Fall/Winter 2016 collection immediately following their February 2016 show. Tom Ford cancelled his February show altogether, opting instead to premier the Fall/Winter collection during the September NYFW, when the pieces would be arriving in store.

Multi-brand retailers are also catching on. During this summer’s 70th Tony Awards, Nordstrom gave customers the chance to shop red carpet accessories online as performers were aired wearing them.


Text It

Fact: NYC is loud. From horns and sirens to the rushed bustle of busy New Yorkers, talking on the phone can be plain inefficient. Businesses are using text to communicate with their customers in a way that feels second nature to them. Fashion show goers reaped the benefits of being able to text with car service drivers amidst the chaos and traffic. Having instant access to connect with your driver marked the difference between making and missing a few-minute-long show.

Text also plays a huge role for those retailers that offer customer service via SMS. The same shoppers that couldn’t wait six months to shop the latest Burberry looks won’t want to be placed on hold by a customer service rep. Fast and convenient, texting an agent eliminates the wait and increases a retailer’s chances of making that a repeat customer.


So Social

From bloggers and Instagram influencers to Snapchat stars, sharing is at the helm of our everyday lives–not to mention the glamorous backdrop that is fashion week. Media companies, hotels, brands and everyone in between used social media to show off designer catwalks and celebrity parties. Think Snapchat filters, interactive photo booths, endless hashtags and borderline excessive use of the new Instagram story feature.

Retailers that provide an integrated omni-channel experience don’t only reach more customers, but they also provide a unique experience that goes beyond shopping. They know that fashion is a lifestyle—and it can’t always be bought.