The one major carry forward which the New Year 2021 will have from 2020 is the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health crisis is expected to impact economies for at least a couple of years to come.
The “New Normal” is here to stay, and like every industry, the fashion retail industry showed tremendous agility in adapting to the demands of the time. From the tangible, brick and mortar stores to online shopping, the fashion retail space has been re-inventing, re-strategizing, and re-aligning themselves to rapidly evolving business environment and changing consumer needs.
With such a major carry forward, certain trends that are at a nascent or developing stage now will strengthen and grow next year. While the supply chain and distribution network would have largely recovered and healed from the lockdown shock, public mobility and footfall are expected to remain impacted.
Amidst the scenario, the following are some of the major fashion retail trends expected in 2021.
Online shopping trends will strengthen and brands will focus on leveraging technologies to provide a seamless virtual shopping experience. The efforts will be to make online shopping feel more real and extending a personalized experience to the customers.
This is expected to play a major role by ensuring enabling transformation for the retail space. The adoption of digital technologies across industries would address multiple challenges and strengthen several aspects of the industry, including strengthening the supply chain and distribution network, accelerating digital marketing activities, directing sales, forecasting sales and revenue, and extending to consumers an exceptional shopping experience.
The automation methods such as using sales CRM software, which can automate repetitive tasks like scheduling follow-up emails to prospects and leads over time, are being adopted. In times to come, predictive analysis will play an important role in determining the sales pipeline management and forecasting.
Rise of artificial intelligence
AI is one of the biggest developments for which the fashion retail industry is waiting. With people spending more time online, much of the action will be online. It will provide brands to capture more mind space for the customers. Fashion brands and data aggregators would be receiving huge volumes of data and insights into customer preference. AI has a critical role to play to process the information and learn customer behavior and help brands plan their inventory. It will help brands identify their worst- and best-selling items.
AR & VR
Augmented and virtual reality are customer-oriented features that will revolutionize the way customers experience the brand online. They have been closing the gap for a number of years now; however, owing to various factors the trend has accelerated this year and will strengthen further in 2021. By using AR technology in the store, brands can allow customers to access any apparel through digital media while VR technology would help the users try outfits virtually. In addition to brand experience and customer satisfaction, the technologies will also help in reducing the number of return cases.
Accelerated digital marketing and new sales channels
Digital marketing budgets are bound to increase more than what was expected during the pre-COVID era. A huge thrust would be to leverage all possible digital channels for attracting customers, driving sales, and most importantly continuing brand loyalty. Additionally, e-commerce is expected to gain more market share, while brands will leverage new techniques such as launching pop-up stores or going hyperlocal.
The recent global challenges have made it important for most sectors to diversify and show resiliency in their operations. As brands adopt future trends and make them mainstream, the industry as a whole is fundamentally moving towards Omni-channel fashion retailing.
This essentially means brands would be employing multiple channels to maximize sales, whether it is through a physical store, a pop-up store, a mobile phone, or a laptop/PC. The idea is also to make the customer experience across channels seamless, uniform, engaging, and attractive while building a continuous connect with the consumers. Omni-channel fashion retailing is the future and it is going to be the major highlighting trend for the times to come.