Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion’s e-commerce and technology professionals, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.
BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.
Key articles and need-to-know insights for e-commerce and technology professionals today:
1. The Year Ahead: How Gen AI Is Reshaping Fashion’s Creativity
According to recent McKinsey analysis, as much as one-fourth of the value is expected to be driven by use cases at the design and product development stage of the value chain. 73 percent of fashion executives said generative AI will be a priority for their businesses in 2024, but just 28 percent have tried using it in creative processes for design and product development.
Caution is understandable. The technology could impact jobs and workflows. The fashion industry has also seen a fair share of technological enthusiasm that has swiftly sputtered — notably, the metaverse. Based on rate of progress and investment, however, gen AI is likely to offer a different story. The technology has more practical applications than the metaverse, making it more attractive to businesses and investors.
Vice President of Technology, Chalhoub Group — London, United Kingdom
Data Engineer, Amiri — Los Angeles, United States
Senior Data Analytics Engineer, Tory Burch — Shanghai, China
2. The Technologies the Retail Industry Is Betting On
The National Retail Federation’s gargantuan annual conference took over New York’s Javits Center again in January, drawing vendors and guests from around the world. As in years past, it included an Innovation Lab dedicated to new technologies NRF says show what retail can be now and in the future. The ideas spanned everything from the latest in warehouse robotics to augmented-reality mirrors that let shoppers virtually try on products, in case they don’t want to make the trip to the fitting room or an item isn’t in stock.
But the tech that dominated all others was undoubtedly AI. Of the 50 or so companies that were present, around 20 included some form of AI in their pitches to retailers and attendees. […] A perennial objective for retailers is to get better at targeting the right shopper with the right product at the right time in order to turn them into paying customers. It’s one area where AI can potentially help since it’s able to process large amounts of data to make predictions.
IT Support Analyst, Burberry — London, United Kingdom
Junior E-Commerce Manager, Carhartt WIP — Berlin, Germany
Data Science Product Manager, Gap Inc. — San Francisco, United States
3. Here Comes the AI Backlash
Fashion brands tempted to use generative AI be warned: Customers might be unhappy when they find out. Los Angeles-based Selkie ran headfirst into this situation in January after posting a seemingly innocuous collage of ruffled frocks printed with puppies and cats on Instagram. After one follower questioned whether it was an artist or AI behind the art, the brand confirmed founder Kimberley Gordon created the images from a mix of vintage art, computer painting and AI. The backlash was swift. […] A typical post by Selkie would get a few dozen comments. This one has generated more than 750 — a fair bit of publicity for the small label, though the general sentiments are anger and disappointment.
It may prove to be a recurring issue for brands turning to AI. They could find themselves having to reassure customers the technology wasn’t just a way to cut out wages that would have been paid to a person — though history shows that, when possible, businesses will do just that. Even if brands can assuage shoppers on that point, there’s still the matter of whether it’s appropriate to use generative AI at all given that it might have been trained on copyrighted material.
E-Commerce Assistant, JW Anderson — London, United Kingdom
Client Service Operations Specialist, Moncler — Milan, Italy
Digital Operations Manager, Ralph Lauren — New York, United States
4. Bots Aren’t to Blame for Everything
In the last weeks of 2023, when Nike released the long-awaited Kobe 6 Protro “Reverse” — better known as the “Reverse Grinch” — a familiar scene played out online. Some of those who missed out on the in-demand shoe took to social media to vent their frustration and blame bots for the loss. “@Nike y’all got all this ‘bot protection’ but how only bots won the Reverse Grinch Kobe’s?” one shopper posted on X.
It’s assumed at this point that automated bots will infiltrate the launch of any sneaker that can be resold for a profit and make it difficult for regular shoppers to get them. The problem isn’t just limited to footwear. Bots are used to buy up everything from game consoles like the PlayStation 5 to limited-edition luxury goods. As retailers have come up with new methods to block them, bot developers have kept pace with ways to outsmart the defences. It’s led US lawmakers to propose outlawing bots and created an opening for technology providers such as EQL who promise better techniques to keep them out.
Backend Software Engineer, On — Berlin, Germany
Senior Visual Analytics Developer, PVH — Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Customer Engagement Systems & IT Engineer Manager, Tapestry — Tokyo, Japan
5. Can AI Predict What Shoppers Will Buy?
Of the services that Sparkbox, an AI-centric retail planning platform, offers to customers, one seeing demand uses AI to place quick in-season reorders of products that are performing well. Another gaining momentum leverages the technology to optimise pricing. But one yet to find users is its AI-powered demand forecasting for initial buys, which predicts a product’s performance weeks into the future.
“It’s something that a lot of people are asking about, but it’s not something that anyone wants to immediately do,” said Sparkbox co-founder Lindsay Fisher. “No one wants to take the first step.” Brands are still sceptical about the validity of AI forecasts, she said, and to make decisions with AI about their initial buys, they need to have clear, quantifiable assumptions to base their models on. Many, however, still rely on gut feeling.
E-Commerce & Trading Manager, Saloni — London, United Kingdom
Global E-Commerce Marketing, Hugo Boss — Germany
Digital Merchandising Assistant, Ugg — Munich, Germany
6. Beauty’s Buzziest Roblox Games, Reviewed by Kids
In a rush to make their mark in digital spaces, beauty brands have dabbled in ventures such as NFTs and e-sports sponsorships, but the game platform Roblox, which lets users develop their own games or play those created by others, has become one of the most popular options. Fenty Beauty, Essence and Gucci have all tossed their hats in the ring and created Roblox “experiences”. They’re generally either in one of two categories: the “explorer,” where you complete mini games or quests, or “tycoon”, a style of game where the focus is on collecting virtual cash.
“A brand’s core purpose [for being on Roblox] is speaking to an audience that they’re not speaking to on other traditional channels,” said Alex Holder, commercial strategy director at gaming intelligence company Geeiq. “It’s a far more immersive way for their audience to communicate with their brand and products.” Nic Hill, co-founder and head of interactive at Sawhorse Productions, said they would normally have 10 staffers working on each brand project, while Holder said developing a game can cost from $300,000 to over $1 million.
Digital Merchandising Assitant, Hoka — Munich, Germany
Digital Growth Manager, Cinq A Sept — New York, United States
IT Finance Regional Manager, Kering — New York, United States
7. Why Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Are Racing Ahead of the Competition
The success of Abercrombie and American Eagle in navigating a tricky holiday season is proof that even during a spending pullback, the right merchandise – in this case, baggy pants, activewear and, for Abercrombie, a viral sweatshirt – can still draw shoppers. Just as critically, the two retailers have built nimble supply chains that ensure the right products are in stock when they’re hot, with little left over once fickle teen shoppers move on to the next trend.
[…] Both Abercrombie and American Eagle operate vertically, meaning they own their manufacturing process and sell clothes through their own stores, rather than wholesale. This has allowed them to quickly identify when a product takes off, and then order more. That increases sales while limiting the chances they’ll be stuck with unsold merchandise at the end of a season that must be discounted. Its viral camouflage hoodie, for instance, sold out through multiple drops, according to fans on TikTok. It’s currently available in only one size.
ICT Infrastructure Manager, Ermenegildo Zegna — Lomazzo, Italy
Digital Product Manager, Coach — New York, United States
Director of Digital E-Commerce, Smithe Studios — Los Angeles, United States
8. The BoF Professional Summit: AI, Digital Culture and Virtual Worlds
The year ahead is set to be a transformative one for technology and fashion. The AI revolution that took off in 2023 is accelerating. Apple is set to unveil its first headset in a giant bet on what it calls “spatial computing.” And, digital culture continues to evolve as it’s increasingly fragmented into algorithmically defined niches.
To learn more about the innovations that will shape 2024 – and their practical application for the fashion and beauty industries – join us at the Times Center in New York City on March 22 for the BoF Professional Summit – New Frontiers: AI, Digital Culture and Virtual Worlds.