Fashion retail, a vast ocean of opportunities is getting evolve slowly but surely in today’s time. Fashion retail has witnessed a remarkable up and down in the last two decades. With changing time, consumer demand, preferences, needs and wants are also getting change at an accelerated speed. When consumer behaviour changes, it demands fashion retail look at multiple angles rather than focusing on any one strategic parameter. It requires an organization to look at the entire ecosystem which helps them be at the forefront of cut-throat competitive industry.
In this blog, we focus on highlighting 3 strategic areas out of many for fashion retail, and we believe that these are evolving trends which may change the future of the fashion retail ecosystem. These 3 strategic areas are mentioned in the below figure:
Since ages, societies has placed men and women in two distinct packets, however many cultures or part of societies, are obscuring the lines and people has started accepting in comfortable wear category. This gender neutral clothing is at very initial stage, there are few brands who is only focusing on gender neutral products however it won’t be too long for big brands to create a line of item into their existing product portfolio. Some of the brands who are only focusing on gender neutral are Blindness, One DNA, and Muttonhead.
Comfortable – Functionality
COVID-19 played a significant role when it comes to focus more towards comfortable / functionality wear. In this Pandemic, major of the workforce has been either completely shifted to work from home or in hybrid mode. In addition to that, many places and tourist attractions are closed, children has been also shifted in distance learning, this has led to people spend more time in home, this has demanded in having clothing which are comfortable as well as gives necessary functionality. Comfortable clothing would play significant role for next 1 to 2 year till the time Pandemic is controlled significantly.
In Last two decade, technology has played significant role in our daily lifestyle from inception of smart phone to sports band and many more. Just by wearing a smart watch on your wrist a user can know their heart rate, counting calories for exercise and many more. The technology has move further in garments as well, scientist at Rice University, Texas, USA has developed a smart t-shirt where users heart monitoring gets done. The t-shirt is made with thin carbon nanotube fibre, which works similar to metal and give good conductivity. This T-shirt uses this fibre to monitor the heart rate of user. It’s not too far, that someone would also try to use LED with the help of Nano fibres.
Sales Channels & Placements
In Fashion retail, one of the most crucial aspect which define success is which sales channel or where the product placements are happening. No single channel or single product placement can help brands reach their desire long term objectives. Following are sales channel and placement which are currently being used by Industry.
Physical store is a traditional channel in fashion retail. Physical stores is the largest contributor among all sales channels in terms of quantity and value in INDIA. National brands todays are present majorly in tier-1 and tier-2 cities. It is mandatory for brand to look beyond tier 1 and 2 cities where there growth would be pushed further. Saying that, it is not necessary for brands to create an exclusive stores however having product and brand visibility in tier-3 city can really have positive impact in minds of the consumer. At the same time, it is essential to understand demography and place the relevant product which can have positive impact for brands in local market, basically micro regional strategy is much needed if brands want to expand their horizon.
In last 5 years, e-commerce has really picked up the speed in India. The challenge for brand is where to position their product, of course the real gain for brands would be placing the product on giant e-commerce platform such as Amazon, Flipkart, Ajio since they provide high number of user base however the real challenge for brand is how to attract or reach to target audience which help them go to respective e-commerce platform and materialized the purchase. One of the key solution is the next evolving sales channel which is social shopping.
Social media will become the new storefront, it helps brands in bringing the footfall and increase the awareness of brand. There are multiple placements which brands can use
– Through influencers / style leaders – Where this style leaders are promoting products and retail sites / links where their follower easily reach to the buying process
– Through paid promotions – Where brand are spending huge amount of money to promote their products and links on social platforms.
Once the products are placed, and customers are at the store front or at the e-commerce place, the real challenge takes place at this moment for brands. There is always a rushing questions for brands in terms of how to make the entire buying journey so smooth and so to the point where there are no chance of consumer to go away empty handed. Following are evolving trends in fashion retail which brands cannot ignore.
The real gain for brands would take place when they focus on working in establishing engagement in buying process. For an example, the moment customer reach to the online store, he or she would want products to be tried before buying, in that case there are multiple engagement model brand can take
– Reserved and Try at store
– Find your perfect piece using virtual AR (3D Try On)
Still today, there are lot of customer for brands who are still reluctant to buy online, they would want to ensure that particular piece suits to their body. The above two practice would definitely help in engaging with consumer and help them buy in single interaction phase.
For physical store, the real challenge begins when required size or colour is not available, brand can facilitate by integrating with their master inventory database, where even if particular piece is not available in store, can be shipped by brand from different location to customer home address.
Fashion recognition – Beginning of Shazam through picture
Shazam – An application on your smart phone, can listen to any songs and instantly show you the result in regards to what is the name of the song, singer, album and many more details. Inception of Shazam is two decade old, it started in 2002 and really picked up the speed in around 2011 to 2015. Eventually, it was purchased by Apple in around 2017 or 2018. Similar to Shazam, where any song would be instantly recognize by system and presented to user, in fashion any picture you take would be instantly recognize and presented in regards to which brand it is and where you can buy. The future is already here and no brand can ignore the same. Big e-commerce players like Myntra has already implemented fashion recognition in their platform and recently meesho a new player in market is already promoting through advertisement.
Buy now, pay for (Luxury) later
Who thought that you can purchase a phone now and pay later in year 2010, certainly I did not. As economy grows, aspiration also grows, similar to what we are witnessing that you can get a loan for mobile phones, similarly, it is not long that luxury brands in fashion retail can also start offering the same or their sales channel partner. Not everyone can afford luxury, but a want as part of aspiration where you can easily possess something which you only dreamed of, the buyers are always there for this segment as well.
This are only tip of the ice berg evolving trends in fashion retail, if we talk about industry as a whole, then there are lot to talk and think about from AI becoming the designer to rapid iteration & production, to mining social media. The opportunities are huge and the only thing which will stand apart any brand would be the need of the speed for their adaptation to the new horizon and transformation.
Saurin Parikh, who has done Masters in International Business and Management Information System from Texas, is also a Certified Business Analyst. He started as a business analyst with Jagdish Hirani & Associated, is currently leading the core operations of transformation projects. He has wide experience in industries like home furnishing, diamond, tourism, food sectors etc. He is Observant, Conscious about facts, Patient, Positive, gives attention to detail and believes in total Completeness.
Success Mantra – “You have to touch ground (foundation) to make perfect organizations. Right methods with consistent approach are bound to yield results”
About J.hirani: J.hirani is a Strategic Transformation team which works as a growth partner for different organisations in various industries by providing services like Agile transformation, Scenario mapping, Strategic alignment, Balance scorecard, Digital transformation, Incubating new ventures, Operation excellence and Aligning human capital.
©J.hirani, Evolving Fashion Retail, October 2021. All rights reserved