The not-so-brief market disruption, also commonly known as the global lockdown of 2020 and 2021, made it necessary for businesses to explore online selling. With no access to a physical store, unlimited time, and internet access at hand; the consumers collectively, ensured that the fashion eCommerce industry boomed in 2021 and 2022. The global online apparel market was valued at $668.1 billion in 2021 and was expected to snowball.
But not every fairy tale gets a happy ending. After experiencing eighteen months of robust growth (early 2021 through mid 2022), the online fashion and apparel industry experienced a climate change, per a McKinsey report. Hyperinflation in various parts of the world, access to brick-and-mortar stores, returning confidence in the supply chain, and change in consumer sentiments, considerably declined the fashion eCommerce growth rate in the latter part of 2022.
However, there has been a steadfast increase in offline and online-to-offline (O2O) purchases. According to Statista, revenue in the apparel market amounts to US$96.47bn in 2023. The market is expected to grow annually by 3.34%. In India, fashion market is projected to grow by 11.27% (2023-2027) resulting in a market volume of US$14.23bn in 2027.
Source: Statista Market Insights
The resurgence of in-store experience in fashion eCommerce
So, what does this mean for fashion eCommerce? Do we close our online stores and invest only in the good old brick-and-mortar shops? Statistically speaking – No.
Numerous reports by Statista and research by Business of Fashion (BOF) state that despite challenges, the online apparel market is expected to grow. The general consensus, however, is that just an eCommerce website, simply won’t cut it anymore. The seventh annual State of Fashion report by The Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company states that – Shoppers have made it clear that although they still value online channels, particularly within luxury, where online DTC and third-party platforms will continue to drive growth; shoppers also want brick-and-mortar experiences. So what’s in store for the business of fashion? Let’s explore
A hybrid approach: The future of fashion eCommerce
Heman Chavan, founder of Brik + Clik, said it best, “The future is neither eCommerce nor retail. It’s just commerce.” The lines between eCommerce and traditional commerce are blurring as you read this post. Businesses worldwide, and not just fashion, are embracing technology and leveraging phygital (a combination of digital and physical experiences) marketing to bridge the gap between the real and the online world. Leading fashion retailers like Nordstrom, Target and athletic apparel retailer Lululemon have combined the best of both worlds – online and brick-and-mortar shopping experience. These brands have adopted the new model – Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS).
This strategy is not just restricted to marketing. The very dynamics of fashion are undergoing a paradigm shift. Fashion trends like gender-fluid fashion (a hybrid between men’s and women’s wear) will require rethinking their product design, marketing, and in-store and digital shopping experiences. To effectively respond to the evolving customer sentiment, a hybrid approach is the way to go.
How technology is changing the way consumers shop for fashion
According to TimeTrade’s State of Retail report, 85% of consumers prefer to shop in physical stores because they want to see, touch and test products before purchasing them. Another study reports that 1/3 of customers prefer to receive product advice from sales associates, and a whopping 90% of shoppers are more likely to buy after receiving assistance from knowledgeable staff in-store. But brick-and-mortar stores have their own set of limitations; maximizing reach, amplifying brand awareness, maintenance, and cost efficiency are just a few among many.
Today technology has made it possible for fashion retailers to offer the best of both worlds. It has given wings to innovative ideas, where businesses are only limited by their lack of creativity. Streetwear retailer Culture Kings adopted a ‘retail-tainment’ approach. They opened a 14,000 sq ft. store in Las Vegas, featuring a recording studio and other immersive experiences. The success rate of this venture has urged Culture Kings to open additional experiential stores in key US cities.
In India, Reliance Retail’s newest venture Azorte has adopted a multi-format approach to cater to all consumer segments. Azorte has an eclectic mix of intuitive retail technology like RFID-enabled interactive screens and virtual styling assistants to elevate the in-store experience.
Following in the footsteps of Culture Kings and Azorte, may seem like a bold step to many. However, this hasn’t stopped the rest of the fashion world from embracing technology and creating a hybrid experience for its shoppers. Brands like Zara, Victoria’s Secret, and Top Shop among numerous others have initiated the O2O (online to offline) strategy.
In India, brands like Nykaa, Zivame, and Faballey are adopting omnichannel technology, setting a precedent and inspiring fashion brands in the country to follow suit.
The face of fashion eCommerce is evolving. What worked in 2020 and 2021 is less likely to work in 2023 and the coming years. This is precisely why you need a fail-proof eCommerce strategy and an experienced marketing partner.
If you are looking to, not just sustain but grow in this highly competitive market, you need the right fashion eCommerce consulting services that understand your business, brand values, and business visions. Marketing and technology partners like ewiz commerce can help you with the right marketing strategies and introduce your brand to suitable technology to amplify business growth.
Whether you intend to go hybrid or create an immersive online experience, ewiz commerce has the expertise, experience, and technological backing to ascertain your success. Schedule a call with ewiz commerce for a free consultation