Ecommerce in fashion and apparel industry:
Connected ecosystem for customer delight
Today shopping for apparel, haute couture or high street fashion are just a few clicks away, thanks to the advent of ecommerce. The concept of ecommerce has managed to revolutionize the fashion and apparel industry, which always functioned within the boundaries of comfort and reassurance of buyers. To elaborate, who wants to buy a pair of stilettoes without the precious “look and feel” appeal you get in a store? Ditto with a dinner jacket; lugging some choices back and forth trial rooms and examining your look each time with a different jacket in the mirror itself adds value to buying. Lets look at how ecommerce in fashion and apparel industry has enhanced / supplemented this experience.
Internet retailer stated that,” Apparel retailers make up only 17% of the total sales transacted online last year with merchants ranked in the just-released Internet Retailer Global 1000. But it’s a category particularly ripe for innovation and growth online.”
Statista graphically illustrated the growth of apparel footwear and accessories retail in the United States – which was $72.13 billion USD in 2016, is projected to increase to $123.403 billion USD in 2021.
The trend clearly proves the rise of the e-commerce, which has the potential to transform brand experiences in apparel or fashion related goods. Today, consumers have centered their choice on convenience, which takes the lion’s share of an unforgettable shopping experience; thanks to ready availability of swanky devices and cutting edge digital technology. Convenience today hovers higher than the “comfort” factor that is key in store shopping.
Brands and retailers have restructured their business models to suit an evolving customer behavior; they have armed themselves with newer technology platforms to keep pace with consumer demands and staying ahead of competition.
Ecommerce in fashion and apparel industry- we are not talking Amazon, Alibaba.
Ecommerce enables contemporary fashion labels gain access to markets around the globe. Apart from benefits such as reduced time to market, planned production costs; ecommerce technology leads to greater access to a diverse market of buyers along the entire fashion supply chain from production to distribution.
Internet retailer went on to say, “On the contrary, experts and retailers say, the online apparel category is particularly wide open for many global players, large and small, to succeed. Consumer tastes vary widely when it comes to fashion, and many shoppers demand a personalized touch. The sheer size of Amazon and Alibaba make it hard for them to provide that kind of human feel”.
The potential offered by ecommerce can help compensate the absence of “look and feel” of products by means of offering other services such as easy return process, personalized selling techniques and superlative customer service. All of which is not herculean given the performance of the shopping cart technology opted for.
In this light, Magento leverages its open source ecommerce eco-system to powers more than 230,000 merchants all over the world. Mark Lavelle the CEO of Magento says “As consumers continue to demand compelling experiences with brands, retailers are challenged to find partners that can create rich, differentiated online experiences for their consumers while driving growth”. He went on to explain the benefits of Magento Enterprise, which empowers retail merchants to create customized and flexible brand experiences.
Now what can possibly deter fashion and apparel brands from getting onboard with ecommerce? Here are some commonly asked questions-
- What about the traditional channels of sale favored all along?
- How many more applications will need to come together?
- While only change is constant in technology, what happens to data in my systems as I struggle to adapt?
Let us dive-in to discuss in brief about how fashion e-tailers can address the above challenges.
Practical consumerism is on a rise- No case for channel conflict.
Your consumers today make sharp informed decisions; wield power and influence by being deliberate and purposefully in how they would spend. The millennial populous seek value for money- they believe in purposeful shopping and not reckless ones. Especially in this niche, will they wait for a seasonal sale for discount coupons and deals in the store? Not anymore, for your competition will have grabbed their attention by then. Your buyers will simply lunge towards the first favorable opportunity to buy.
Will ecommerce help?
Well yes, ecommerce is going to help you put your best foot forward online, showcase your products and information, and all the paraphernalia that will actively influence a buying decision. A lot rides in the design of your e-store considering the niche you are operating in. An interface that provides rich UX with images and attractive mouse-overs that lures a buy almost just after a user consumes all information offered. What is next?
With the power of consumerism underlies the power of choice your consumer would like to exercise. Are you going to do away with your flourishing brick and mortar store? Will just setting up an e-store help cater to demands such easy returns anywhere anytime? What about an in-store pick up option? How will you handle shipping and inventory in such circumstances? Integrating your e-store with your ERP primarily and your in-store sales application therefore becomes a mandate. While saying this, data integration in such an Omni-channel environment (ecommerce, mobile commerce, physical store or calls) is imperative to transmit any kind of uniform communication to your consumer.
Sustained selling strategies – Faster access to “wish list”
Consider the recent Cannes movie festival; influenced consumers want to look up their favorite red carpet outfit for sale within days or weeks. Retailers will therefore must be ready with bigger collections, product ranges, adding more SKUs, and packaging and shipping options. Normally all of this creates complexity in product development, sourcing, planning, production, and fulfillment – more so in the case of apparel.
Will ecommerce help?
A web store will help with visibility certainly; it helps spread awareness faster. It is easier to get ahead of the pack, quickly market availability of products along with details with an online presence. What’s more? You can assess the traffic to your web store soon after a social event or say celebrity going public with style hacks.
Adding additional product ranges, adding more SKUs does not end with the e-store. What will assure your availability of the same across all channels? You need to be aware if the red carpet outfits is available in your warehouse, if so how many pieces. How soon will you be able to deliver it for to a buyer? Now all of this needs data integration across your support systems.
The need to market all details of your brand- Competition is heated.
Retailers and fashion brands operate with a number of variables. Buyers are sensitive, consistent stock outs, compromise on quality or possibly even the lack of all material information means your competition wins. If items are consistently out of stock, people will shop elsewhere.
Will ecommerce alone help?
A website will help big fashion brands display their partners, sources and manufacturing details, step into their corporate and social responsibilities as well. Today all consumers are aware of how retailers and brands operate on all fronts- thanks to social media. Right from environmental harm caused, labor practices, health and safety standards to complaints and reviews on products. You can use your website to update such information. But, what about how your products are perceived?
Data integration furthers your efforts to establish your reputation online. You can integrate tools such as Bazaar voice with your content management system and product information system. Now this helps aggregate all customer reviews / ratings about your product, services from varied sources, and displays them along with your product. Fashion and apparel is a socially driven niche.
Tackling inventory challenges– understanding demand and supply.
Fashion retailers and brands are forever battling seasonality – having to ramp up inventory as per seasonal demands and disposing them on time. Survival with just a physical store translates to opening shop and hoping in vain for seasonal shoppers. The same weather conditions can work against the retailers- who would step out on a bitterly cold winter day to buy a pullover. Alternatively, say if summer is not hot enough, fashion retailers cannot clear dresses and shorts meant for the season. Will simply slashing prices and diluting margins help handle the situation?
Will ecommerce help?
With an e-store you can aggressively market your wares, you can edit, alter and slash prices as and when you find the demand slacking. With an e-store you can push out off-season products in a fair manner without having to bear the brunt of costs. However, what about aspects such as stock visibility, inventory intelligence, and operational costs that you need time-to-time information?
An e-store front without a doubt supports aggressively marketing and selling strategies but what will need to work in the background is information that backs such decisions. An integrated ERP ecommerce environment facilitates data exchange between your warehouse and your selling application. With accurate availability of data on inventory on hand as well as performance of your stock across various channels of sale, you can devise your marketing and selling strategies. Monsoon winter or summers, the stock not on demand can easily be sold before the cycle reverses.
Apparel and fashion shopping is no more limited to holidays.
Black Friday was always considered the official start of the holiday shopping season; for that is when fashion and apparel retails were meant to have the highest footfall in store and online as well. The numbers used to flock eyeing the huge discounts available in the stores and with the shift to online, shopping in e-stores as well. With exposure, buying capacities and simply availability of more choice, apparel and fashion related shopping is no more limited to a particular time of the year.
Will ecommerce help?
The presence of a web-store puts your brand out in the race; promoting your web-store at par with competition does add a lot of value. Online shopping is slowly climbing for reasons more than just finding the right deal or saving fuel. The exclusivity in terms of finding the product that needed at a reduced price does not catch the fancy of a holiday shopper. Sloppy impulsive buying on a black Friday sale has long ceased to be the norm as well. So how will your apparel e-store be prepared to handle a” round the year” sale?
What will work in favor of an ambitious online apparel retailer will be this ability to ensure and work on an all-round selling strategy. Efforts on ensuring product availability all-round the year, ensuring an informed buy at the right price along with the right fulfillment strategy is key. What will facilitate this? ERP ecommerce integration provides an eco-system that can help you build a business model to cater to.
Keeping up to trends – the lifeline of fashion and apparel.
Today shopping experiences are lot more evolved; in a typical brick and mortar store, your friendly store assistant helps with choices and bargains. Your tailor offers you door delivery and sometimes show samples on color look fit and feel of that evening gown you always wanted. Yet e-stores are gaining popularity. However, can you just hop on to selling online and wait for footfall, might not be a good idea.
Will ecommerce help?
An e-store strives to translate all offline experiences online as well, when you choose a product detailing on the fit, alternate colors as well as inventory details are available. Your store personalization can suggest you similar products when you return to the e-store on your next shopping expedition. When you check out and choose to pick up your purchase in-store your location is tracked and stores available nearby is listed. Wondering how is can is this executed?
ERP ecommerce integration brings data that overlaps between both applications such that the data you use for crucial decision-making is accurate. Understanding consumer behavior on your website which can draw information from his purchases ( now he would approach the physical store or buy online), the number of times he has returned or understanding his payment history , the average revenue he generated per buy are all crucial information that need to be tracked for evolved selling strategies.
Bottom line– Creating a connected ecosystem brings out the essence of selling your fashion brand online. Considering the increasing drift to buy all kinds of apparel and accessories online, accentuated ecommerce experiences will be the ones that can cut it in overall performance of a brand.
How can i95dev help?
Team i95dev has constantly strived to understand the needs of a buyer among various niches and have actively helped retailers drive sales with scalability and overall operational efficiency. We strongly advocate data integration of ecommerce and ERP for sustained selling strategies in a volatile retail environment.
For any further information on our product, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 301.760.7499. We would be more than happy to look at your business’s needs and use our expertise to help you.