With the lockdown norms easing across the nation, albeit at different levels of intensity, businesses are actively preparing to resume work with a hope of normalcy returning soon. Despite all the active preparations, there is no hidden truth that the battle is not going to be an easy one, especially for the brands in the fashion segment. For them, getting demand back in the short term is the biggest challenge at hand. In India, for a major part of the population factors like ‘Work from Home’ and absence of social gatherings have greatly reduced the occasions to dress up and for the other part of the population, basic survival takes precedence over other things, thereby affecting the demands.
Though the struggle might be hard at present, it is not all gloom and loss that lies ahead for this sector in the coming months. While the first two quarters of the fiscal year were definitely impacted by the pandemic, but there is a strong likelihood for a recovery which will gradually pick up the pace from the third quarter, coinciding with the onset of festive season. Promotional offers, end of season sale, special pricing, and product innovations will further boost the morale of the customers and bring them back to the store. In order to navigate through this brands require a pronged approach, agile execution and strategic changes in the business models.
Product Innovation: Innovation in product development & launch is the need of the hour. It will drive consumers back to the stores by fulfilling the need of new requirements of a work from home collection which is high on comfort & safety. Safety is the second biggest space emerging during the situation right from masks to addition of protective layer in garments for travel or even a fashionable PPE can spin the numbers.
Integrated Inventory Management: These days, Omni channel is the way forward. The entire eco system from searching to selecting to buying to delivering the merchandise has to come together at the disposal of the customers. Trends indicate reduced footfalls at Brick & Mortar stores which provides organization to integrate their portals & store plus warehouse inventory in order to supply to the customers in minimal possible time. Complementing the customer’s recent online shopping experience with in-store purchases will also help in strengthening trust.
Launch of Product Alerts for Specific Targeting: Product alerts are one of the most effective way to notify the customers about the essential products they need. Price notifications, exclusive offers, back in stock communication can allow the brands to target the customers who have interacted with specific products in the past and automate high-conversion messages. This will also enable the brands to inform the customers about the availability of their preferred products at the store and thereby invite them to their stores.
Promotional Offers and Sales: In an attempt to generate demands and attract footfall, brand owners can come up with various promotional offers like add-ons and value discounts for their in-store customers. The brands can also introduce appointment based shopping experience with exclusivity for their loyal members wherein the buyers can shop from their favorite brands with less chances of finding other customers during that time. Apart from this, the early arrival of EOSS will also be a move by the retailers to liquidate the existing inventory, while at the same time inviting the shoppers to shop from their preferred brands at the most affordable prices.
Customer Wish list: Staying indoors for more than two months as a result of unseen crisis, has triggered digital consumption of the content. All this while, people preferred ‘window-shopping’ from the safe confines of their home. Amidst this, identifying the audiences who have saved items in specific categories and notifying them when these products are available at the most exciting offers can be beneficial for the retailers to pull the customers to their stores.
There has always been a conflict between online and offline, however it is time now to marry the two to achieve the maximum benefits. Integrating online strategies with in-store data will not help the brands to attract footfall, but also to develop a long-term relationship. Apart from the initiatives planned by the brands, certain government directives will also help in demand creation. For instance, GST relief on apparels will play a major role in reviving consumer demand. It might not be a viable time to anticipate future trends but it is truly the time to be optimistic about the future. It is time now to invest on a systematic and strategic approach that will lead towards an amplified demand generation and therefore, increased footfall at the stores and ultimately towards business as usual.