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Trends In Fashion Industry In Post Pandemic World
Whilst this growth cannot be sustained, it’s certainly a positive thing for the Ecommerce industry.
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The pandemic has accelerated what was already happening in India and around the world. Online spending on apparel was increasing year on year by a healthy 10-20%. This year (2020 vs 2019) sources suggest that Indian online fashion websites grew as much as 50%! There’s no doubt growth will reduce somewhat for Ecommerce platforms once malls and shopping centres open fully, but the rules of engagement have definitely changed and they shall continue to. The pandemic has woken up a sleeping beast!
Whilst this growth cannot be sustained, it’s certainly a positive thing for the Ecommerce industry. Shoppers that may have sat on the fence before are most likely now buying online and occasional online shoppers are more regular. The extent of slowdown shall depend a lot on the nature of products or brands being sold online. How unique are the products? How strong is the brand? One of the reasons that we as an apparel company are focusing on the brand strength and product offering intently, is so we can ward away the bricks and mortar competition.
Accessibility of brands in Tier 2 and 3 cities, where most of the growth is coming from, is also going to play a large role. Competition is fierce as there are many online platforms offering huge discounts (in some cases at a loss) to just rope customers in. Once the customer is hooked in, the digital marketing machine kicks in and one is pretty much at their mercy. Highly engaging and persuasive ads taking advantage of trigger happy online buyers (using the AIDA model - Attention Interest Desire Action) are pushing customers further and further down their sales funnel to make sure most will eventually buy online.
India will see a lot more ingenuity and ‘below the belt’ tactics in 2022/23 with AR, VR and AI. Technology is and will be playing a massive role in how we shop online.
One of the biggest hurdles for Ecommerce is managing exchange and returns. Nobody wants the hassle of dealing with exchanges over a period of 1-2 weeks. It’s a challenging interference to the already limited daily schedule. Compare this to trying garments on in real-time, to being done with the shopping fix in one session and one can see what Ecommerce brands are up against. A good solid Exchange and Returns policy and process is going to be key.
Another key hurdle to overcome is and will be, how customers are managed, or the strength of the Customer Relationship Management team. Let’s not forget that e-commerce is competing against in-store shopping experts that are well dressed, well-spoken and well briefed on the brand, products and customer (they get to interact with them!). So if e-commerce businesses are not alert and attentive to the customer, or are unable to understand their preferences through chat, they risk a loss of clientele. And not just the loss of one customer but any potential customers that they may be linked with via word of mouth. WhatsApp’s API and the many chat platforms that have sprouted up have helped immensely in ensuring the customer is easy to reach and communicate with.
Another obstacle is social media proofing of the product and brand. Feedback and reviews that are honest and genuine need to be communicated at all purchase touch-points. The strategy for frequency and method of collecting genuine reviews must not be overlooked.
From Day 1, a company has to make sure that they deliver on the promises. Customers cannot touch, smell or feel the product, so online brands have to go the extra mile in communicating honest and real descriptions, and videos and imagery of the products that accurately depicts what it is - this is not as easy as it sounds. Brands that get these aspects right are the ones that should be able to easily jump the hurdles in front of them.
As India is set to come out of the tailwind of COVID devastation, we will see people being much more laid back, with less judgement about what someone is wearing. It will be alright to wear lounge boxers and PJ’s with bold prints when visiting the bank, grabbing a takeaway, or taking your dog for a walk.Bring out the Sexy Beast in you while working from home, hybrid working or simply chilling out.
COVID has stripped us all down to the bare basics and given us a scenario where anything goes, and where you have an opportunity to express yourself as much as you want. The pandemic has turned a spotlight onto what is most important as individuals and communities.
Think about this - physical connections have been pretty much taken away for almost two years now. Nobody is going to judge anyone on their your appearance when they meet. They’ll just be glad to make a real connection instead of a video one!
The author is CEO, SEXY Beast - E-commerce firm
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.