Most professionals in the fashion industry are currently focusing on changing the strategies to suit crisis management and contingency planning. However, eventually, a shift in the industry altogether is much needed to sustain competition, global economic changes, and consumer behaviors.
Before the pandemic, most leaders were optimistic about 2020. The industry is currently on a red alert with a financial crisis looming. As we progressed towards 2021, most consumers were hopeful about returning to normalcy. With the second wave sweeping the country, many retailers have seen sales drop considerably with only essential goods being available in the permissible category.
With so much uncertainty surrounding people's minds and various business sectors, consumer confidence has hit a new low, and sales have dropped in many verticals tremendously.
Some key points to be considered by fashion retail brands are:
- The pandemic will continue to have its effects on the fashion industry for a prolonged period.
- Online shopping will advance but with a change in consumer demands and buying patterns.
- Creativity and proactiveness will define a retail brand more prominently in the current phase of uncertainty.
There are several unanswered questions that the leaders are trying to grapple with like how long will this period last and how long can the brand sustain? Will the impact show on the entire supply chain as well besides retailers and customers? How will the second wave impact the factories and the entire production process? The current crisis will force many brands to explore real opportunities that are necessary for innovation and success in the current market synopsis. Depending on the size and scale of the brand, a plan to gradually change the way consumers perceive grim realities must be introduced to ensure a robust subsistence.
A number of retail brands are aiming to go fully digital in the coming few months. Online platforms have helped fashion brands to understand customers in a better manner through the use of data analytic and artificial intelligence. The year 2020 witnessed a major shift towards digitization. Improvements in social media platform presence, monitoring applications, and digital technology have been observed. In the current scenario, many customers will remain apprehensive about shopping in a physical environment, and thus use of technology to improve in-store experiences will also be required. Several store-based retailers are pushing contactless mechanisms to ensure health and safety concerns. On online shopping too, interactive interface features are allowing brands to understand the requirements of customers vividly helping brands to change their market outreach from time to time.
Brands can utilize the current situation to effectively collaborate with businesses to address issues and complexities arising from COVID. The major advantage of having a collaborative mindset is the opportunity to learn something new while also sharing ideas, solving problems, and seeking networking opportunities. A cross-industry collaboration also helps in taking a lesson or two from sectors that are coping up with similar situations during the pandemic. Highly collaborative brands grew their business in the crisis period. With increasing uncertainty and stress levels, through collaboration people can change their approach towards developing business positively. This also helps in expanding the network across industry silos. Growing business pressures can be combined with team-building activities that help in identifying and pursuing new opportunities. This approach can open up new doors to a wide variety of customers.
Define a Purpose
Fashion brands and retailers need to specify the purpose of their brand messaging along with the business strategy. Consumers often expect authenticity and transparency in messaging which of course should be aligned with the company's brand values. Sometimes the focus should also be towards communicating the need of the hour rather than the need of business. A mutual feeling of trust between the brand and the consumer helps in establishing value for the brand. The purpose of marketing also helps in understanding what the customers want which helps in driving the business in the right direction. The use of automated technologies and personalized messages to stakeholders will help in establishing a business comeback.
Focus on product servicing
As the retail industry is adapting to online stores, one can expect to see growth in the shopping experience, especially for the premium segments as well. This will be an opportunity for brands to connect with their customers on a personal level and provide benefits to the customers through a great personalized experience. Various brands are offering a free virtual personal shopping demo so that they can guide the consumers appropriately as per their requirements. It is also important to note that in the current scenario companies may get disconnected from customers.
Health and social distancing will gradually change, and businesses will in time need to think of a bounce back and revival. Several upcoming trends, such as e-commerce, purpose-driven marketing, technology investments, and one on one personalized customer shopping experience, are expected to stay in the long term even after the pandemic subsides. Brands should now focus on using their resources, skills, and finances attentively to drive the right kind of growth. The future of retail and the fashion industry is currently uncertain but correct marketing measures can bolster a positive trajectory for businesses. It is essential to stay engaged with customers through social media platforms using creative alternatives to engage with customers.