One thing the pandemic has done positively is that it has connected all the various industries to its core. The fashion industry is no stranger to this concept and it has taken one of the worst blows, facing a great decline in year-on-year growth. There is no wonder about the same since most non-essential retailers were forced to close doors in face of sustained lockdowns during the busiest shopping periods. For instance, the spring season and December last year in all leading markets like the US, UK, and the EU. We are still struggling with the pandemic where the second and third waves of virus breakouts in the US, EU, and Asia are threatening to derail businesses yet again. The road to recovery, especially for the fashion industry, will be slow, long, and arduous. Industry experts have projected a growth back to the pre-pandemic level by perhaps the 3rd quarter of 2022. The time is now for forward-looking retailers to seize the opportunity in order to reinvent themselves, chart a new map for the journey ahead while accelerating their growth trajectory by tapping into the following hottest trends in the fashion industry.
Endless Aisle: Omni-Channel Commerce
The pandemic has made the retailers develop the capability to ‘sell anywhere anytime’ and never ‘lose a sale’. With the same agenda in mind, they have been coming up with new concepts like ‘Endless Aisle’ which refers to a seamless retail shopping experience via in-store kiosks. It provides the consumers with access to products they want, even if they are not available on the shelf. Not only this, but it also provides them with visibility into out-of-stock products allowing the retailers to often keep the sale, especially if they can provide delayed but guaranteed delivery or store pick-up options. 49% of consumers stated that they look for convenience above everything and 61% of them don’t even mind paying extra charges for the same. This is why the need for an interconnected digital network focused on customer-centricity is the need of the hour since it can help meet the customers on their terms and give customers what they are looking for. Customers will be able to get things they like wherever, whenever, and however they want them. It is emerging as one of the hottest consumer trends and a capability area while filling the existing gaps in the market.
Brick and Mortar Strategy
In the last few years, brick-and-mortar stores have taken quite a beating from the extrapolate rise of e-commerce along with a surge in online sales, be it pre-pandemic or pandemic-induced. Some retail chains that are unable to stand the competition heat, chose to shut their stores. But the bold retailers who were keen to innovate, have used this e-commerce boom as the perfect impetus for growth and transformation. This sudden shift in consumer behaviour due to the pandemic is a blessing in disguise, more like a chance to spin adversity into an opportunity while renewing your customer experience journey. Brick-and-mortar retailers are able to arrest plummeting sales and make customers (old and new) come to their stores by incorporating various digitally-enabled technologies. For instance, they can implement click-and-collect, cashier-less checkouts, contactless payment, and digital signage in order to streamline in-store transactions and for delivering a frictionless customer experience. Not only this, but personalization and cutting-edge in-store digital experiences can also act as the key building blocks of the stores of the future since they can open doors to a new era of customer loyalty.
For the record, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world which contributes to around 10% of overall gas emissions. The fashion industry has an unsustainable DNA – from archaic manufacturing processes to the number of natural resources utilized. It takes around 700 gallons of water to get that 1 cool t-shirt on your back in addition to 120 million trees per year to fill our clothing wardrobes. It is nothing but shocking. Adding more to the severity of the situation, 85% of the 100 billion product units created by the industry collectively end up in the landfill, and only 1% of clothing is recycled. We live in the age of modern customers that have growing demands and are ever more conscious of their carbon footprint, climate change, and ecological balance. For any business, prioritizing stellar green credentials while upholding ethical standards is a no-brainer if they are looking to retain, regain or attract customers. This is why the fashion industry needs a sustainability model to stick to.
Endnote With increasing pollutants around us because of the fashion industry, we need to focus on finding smarter ways to sustain the sector. One of the best practices that the fashion industry must consider is fashion resale that can help reduce carbon footprints. It can also go for Social Commerce or LiveStream Commerce. The possibilities are endless, one just needs the right way to implement them.