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Upcoming Festive Season - The Ray of Light for Fashion Retail

the Indian fashion retail is really upbeat about the upcoming festive season and hoping for skyrocketing sales to mark the recovery path for the industry.

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Upcoming Festive Season - The Ray of Light for Fashion Retail

The COVID 19 has caused multilevel disruptions in the Indian retail industry, leading to huge losses to the 5th largest retail destination of the world. The sector which contributed 10% to India’s Gross Domestic Product and employees 8% of the country’s workforce, lost over Rs 5 Lakh Cr by May and Rs 15 Lakh Cr by mid-July, as estimated by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

Amongst the Worst Hit

However, fashion retail was amongst the worst hit by the pandemic and associated lockdowns. As the nation attempted to contain the disease spread, the early closing of malls, markets and shopping complexes, and thereafter the subsequent lockdowns, had halted manufacturing, disrupted supply chain both for raw and finished materials, led to large scale workforce migrations, had caused the industry to loss of peak spring-summer sales season which resulted unsold inventory, and led to significant demand slump due to job losses, pay cuts and healthcare expenses.

The impact of the pandemic was so severe that even with gradual unlocking of the economy, the market is yet far from a full-swing recovery, and intermittent and indefinite district or state-wide lockdowns are not only continuing to disrupt the supply chain but impacting buyer sentiment.

Putting Forth a Brave Front

However, amidst all uncertainties, the fashion retail sector, and the retail sector as a whole, has stood by and supported the Government measures, putting forth a brave front and bearing tremendous losses. In its continuous support to Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar Abhiyan or mission for self-reliance, the fashion retail sector has initiated several measures to revive the sector and contribute to the economic recovery.

Some of its measures include strict implementation of COVID 19 control measures across stores all over India; aggressive leveraging of digital media to strengthen consumer connect, promote buyer sentiments, and encourage and ensure safe shopping experience across consumers and industry partners; and reviving supply chain and manufacturing process to meet pent-up demand.

The industry has leveraged digital technologies like never before especially in boosting online sales, automating and integrating supply chain and distribution processes, and amplifying digital marketing activities. Other than this there has been a conscious decision by many brands to postpone end-of-season sales to the point it can coincide with festive season.

Gearing up to the Festive Season

While the strengthening of digital framework from machine to consumer level is a necessary and important investment, but its short term return for money is limited. The online e-commerce only has a 5% share of the total retail.

Of this 5% of ecommerce retail, apparel segment shares only 29%. Hence, the major returns are still driven by brick and mortar marketplace or physical stores. Therefore, brands are actually looking forward to the upcoming Festive Season, and hoping for increased footfall, and higher sales both online and offline.

There are several measures the fashion retail is undertaking to ensure good sales this festive season and some of the key measures include the following.

Strengthening omnichannel approach: Due to heavy share of physical stores in fashion retail revenue, brands have been strengthening Omni channel retailing, which is essentially delivering a unified experience to the customers with the physical stores integrated with ecommerce marketplace. This is to push both offline and online sales. The fashion retail industry is reinventing itself to promote hyper-local, retail sales, and other direct-to-customer online initiatives.

Careful discount strategies: Although the fashion retail is expecting increased footfall, but it is skeptical of volumes being as high as last year. Therefore, brands are opting for a measured discount approach to get higher return on value despite lower than average festive sales.

Leveraging digital technologies: Observing the trend that consumers may want to prefer and experiment more with online shopping leading brands are aligning their digital outreach to their sales targets. With consumers spending more time on internet, it becomes convenient for brands to tap their consumers on different online platforms.

Minimizing scale of errors: With endless options available for shopping, today’s customers are not expected to be tolerable to faulty deliveries, poor customer service, or any other form of rough shopping experience. Brands have realized this way ahead of the festive season, and are working harder to improve their services, by making faster deliveries, better user interface, reduced out-of-stock notices, and so on.

Leveraging the trend of online gifting: Festive seasons are the times when customers are willing to splurge on gifts. This year, due to the spike in online shopping, the tradition of gifting has also shifted to the online platforms. The retail industry are expecting that much of the gifting this year would happen through ecommerce. Hence, brands are strengthening their distribution and delivery network. By embracing the omni-channel approach, brands are enabling themselves to delve into the wish-lists of the customers and make discounts and promotions based on their searches. This approach does not just help the brands to deliver consistent and relatable brand experience to every consumer, but also makes it easier for the customers to get done with the purchases quickly.

In gearing up to the festive season sales, the fashion retail industry is taking several other factors into account. In the case of store sales, the fashion retail is working towards ensuring effective inventory planning, store and section planning, footfall and crowd management, strengthening the manpower, and implementation of sanitization and hygiene protocols.

For the online sales, brands are actually going for aggressive marketing strategies, upgrading retail platforms with right information, strengthening inventory planning, delivery mechanism, sales and after sales services, as well as ensuring the customers have a seamless shopping experience.

All in all, the Indian fashion retail is really upbeat about the upcoming festive season and hoping for skyrocketing sales to mark the recovery path for the industry.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Deepak Bansal

Whole-Time Director, Cantabil

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