within a B2C Digital Strategy
Some still believe fashion is only an in-store purchase model with limited use of social media but the new digital landscape has changed completely about how and where we buy our latest fashion. We as consumers are no longer chained to our local retail outlet to search for the latest fashions. The digital age allows us the search the globe in search of fashion to fit any lifestyle or budget. But this wasn’t always true in the fashion industry with technology. The challenge, fashion and fit. Could we hold true what we are buying online and find the convenience to return it with no hassles? As well as experience the fit itself without trying it on for the right size. Our customer centric market now makes it easier to return and exchange conveniently and quickly to enjoy our purchase instantaneously.
The global fashion industry also is currently valued at $3 trillion USD and continues to grow with the woman’s wear industry leading the market at $621 billion USD. While many still anticipate in-store purchases to continuously be part of the equation. In the US alone, the online apparel and accessories are projected to reach $90.1 billion USD by 2018.
As online continues to grow, the % of in-store purchases will continue to steadily drop for the following reasons.
- Convenience – Today, technology creates convenience as fashion coupled with technology is no different. Consumers expect the convenience to purchase apparel and accessories the same as ordering any other product. And they expect the purchase to be simple. While no one can agree on how many clicks it should take on average to purchase online, the key is ease of navigation.
- Audience Segment – Millennials are key. Their influence on the market is changing how fashion is marketed and presented. Fashion is all about social media now. Opinions count more than ever so product reviews, pictures and blogs are key to winning over this segment. No need to ask your friend about a fashion product or accessory, now you have communities available online.
- Global Lifestyles – The Internet changed the way consumers look at fashion. We can instantly search fashion based on our own style and elements. Apps such as Roposo and Poshmark allow anyone to post, view or blog on the latest global fashion trends as well as read reviews by the top fashion influencers. Even app Styliff offers you a 3-D virtual reality dressing -room and share with your friends to get feedback.
- Customer Satisfaction – All good online clothing stores will provide you the measuring guidelines to correctly measure your size. More digitally enhanced online stores will offer interactive measuring tools. For example, one such tool is Virtusize that helps ensure a proper fit through comparing clothing you already own. Another tool is from House of Frazer in the UK offering a sizing tool called True Fit which allows you to input all necessary measurements to recommend the perfect size clothing for you. When something is ordered and it doesn’t exactly fit. No worries. Online stores provide all the tools to return your purchase for the right fit. Most will charge you a minimum shipping fee to return the product. But all in all, it is convenient to make returns.
Technology continues to make the future seem like now. Here are some current trends in the fashion industry that should make you think about how you should build your digital strategy around your retail fashion market.
- Luxury Fashion is part of the digital community – Before, selling luxury fashion online was considered the quickest method to devalue your product. Today, online is leading the sales process. China alone is expected to see luxury sales growth of 70% by 2018.
- Mobile Shopping boosts online fashion sales – It is a no-brainer to understand that mobile shopping will continue to grow and influence shopping habits especially in fashion with 43.7% growth of all online sales in this industry.
- Men’s Online continues to grow – large number of online men clothing stores continue to hit the US market and in the UK, according to the IMRG, UK menswear sales have increased by 264% between 2011-2015 compared to 87% in women’s wear sales.
- Omni-channel will remain steady – Consumers continue to use multiple devices to access information online. This fact remains the same that shopping will also continue to see online purchases across PC, tablets and mobile devices.
- Social Media – Don’t be left behind in your social media approach. Leverage social media to talk your audience in real time, remember fashion is time sensitive. Create excitement with inviting imagery and use promotions across various social media platforms to engage your audience. Social media can also help you engage your audience to buy your product quickly so they don’t lose interest as they try to find the same product on your website that you posted on your Instagram.
- Click and Collect can be the differentiator – This trend goes back to convenience. Why wait for shipping when it can be picked up immediately. This approach will continue to drive differentiation among the top players in the fashion industry. While fashion alone is a unique differentiator for acquisition, customer service is key to retain your customers.
Don’t consider yourself just a brick and mortar store because of your apparel line. As you review your marketing strategy in the fashion industry, understand how an integrated B2C digital strategy can enhance your selling opportunities and reach new markets.