Tag: digital channels

Why Fashion Retail Should Go Online First

Group of People with Shopping Bags

Looking at global sales figures, retail is still a model of success. However, there has been a massive shift from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce. The reason is fairly simple: the fashion industry is focusing on consumer behavior – and consumers are increasingly staying online. Plus, the apparel industry in particular, is currently generating the highest revenues from e-commerce on a global level. So, if a fashion company is aiming for a long-term success, integrating digital channels within the ecosystem is imperative.

Added value is worth it

Fashion brands are given two ways to communicate with their customers: online and offline. Based on this there are endless touch points made to get in contact with consumers. In the digital age, however, the encounter with a brand increasingly takes place online and in most cases long before a purchase actually takes place. This in turn has a profound impact on the way a potential customer searches, finds and evaluates products. The business model must adapt to this changing user behavior in order to be successful. Playing the digital keys consistently and confidently, delivers a whole range of advantages:

  • Scope and customer base are expanding due to online-business. 4.3 billion Internet users thus become potential customers of the clothing industry in one fell swoop.
  • Location, time and mood are not showstoppers for the shopping tour. After work in front of the TV, from the bathtub or simply on the road, consumers can find everything they need without restrictions and can quickly get an overview of availability and pricing.
  • Relevant content can be applied on the web without limit: Next to context-optimized product information, additional content like blogs, videos, reviews, recommendations and more can play a decisive role in creating a convincing product experience; thus forcing a willingness to buy.
  • Multiple touch points facilitate the decision-making as e-commerce is not only a single online shop. Consumers leaving a shop without a purchase? That´s not necessarily the end of the story. You can keep up the awareness and remind them of their product choices throughout different touch points, channels and devices to positively influence their purchase decisions.
  • Social media is key to emotions. Platforms such as Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest influence people´s gut feeling and self-esteem, thus justifying purchase decisions. Also social media is a great opportunity to actively interact and engage with consumers – and to set up a direct relation to a brand’s online shop.
  • Marketplaces like Amazon, Asos or Stylebop allow brands to use powerful additional sales channels to distribute products on a large scale.
  • Knowing your customer is necessary in order to meet their preferences. Online channels allow businesses to track and analyze their customers’ full digital footprint and to convert this knowledge into more targeted communication. The better the resulting customer experience, the more likely consumers will be willing to provide their data – which enables brands to learn even more about them.

Opening up an online flagship store

Those who assume great customer experience is only relevant for in-store shops are very much mistaken. Nowadays, a customer-centric approach is essential for every touch point. Thus, an online shop needs to be much more than just a digitalized catalog. Dealing with a large assortment of products and no opportunity to physically try them out requires innovative approaches to boost product experience. The basics are already set: ordering straight from the branch for home delivery, convenient product returns, and free and fast delivery. Now comes the fun.

Zalando Ecommerce product image

Zalando: Close up images

The fashion industry strives to make in-store customer services available online. The virtual service shows up in different ways: products are shown as closeup images, worn by different models, 3-D animations or in short video clips – to present different perspectives. In order to ensure that customers get the best possible product experience – and to reduce the number of returns – it also comes down to a solution for a helpful size guide. The most innovative ones support them in finding the right fit without the need for a dressing room. To give a few examples: Asos and Thirdlove are using a list of detailed questions to recommend a personalized size, based on individual conditions, as well as previous purchases and experiences. Macy´s gives concrete explanations via video, while Mr. Spex evolves by enabling customers to virtually try on glasses.

Zalando Infographic

Zalando: Same item worn by different models

Pretty little thing catwalk video

Pretty little thing catwalk video


Macy´s Fit Guide für Herren

Macy´s Fit Guide for Man

Mr. Spex: Virtuelle Brillen-Anprobe

Mr. Spex: Try on glasses virtually

Expanded shopping opportunities through individualization

Established brands, with their own chain of stores, are expected to have an online presence. But consumer demands are going much further today. Personalization has become a decisive factor. Customer data, purchase and search behavior – gives reliable conclusions about consumers´ preferences in order to optimize marketing and sales processes. In the long term, this will allow brands and retailers to address individuals with targeted real-time offers – that are relevant and in context.

Technical foundation for your data

Fashion companies will need the right technological infrastructure to achieve this status. Deeply integrated systems allows companies to optimize their communication by integrating data from multiple sources and quickly distributing rich, high-quality product information from a single source across all channels – a major requirement for customer loyalty.

There are numerous software solutions on the market that claim to help solving challenges in marketing products – but to efficiently support online channels, a product information management system would be the core of any digital strategy. As a central repository, a PIM system can help you easily integrate product data from different sources, enrich and localize it, and publish up-to-date product information into connected systems like e-shops, e-fulfillment and content management systems as well as to platforms like Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.

Mobile shopping

Since online shopping becomes more and more a mobile phenomenon this holds another vast chance. Today, almost everything comes together on a mobile device even if it is primarily used for communication – especially via social media. This paves the way for companies to step into their customers´ private life. Thanks to Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, it´s much easier for fashion brands to engage with consumers – an ideal foundation to inspire, inform and incite them. A successful social and mobile strategy goes above and beyond just a simple presence in certain social networks or delivering a mobile app that is just a mobile rendering of their website. Fashion brands are able to connect different touch points – using social media as a sales channel in e-commerce and mobile commerce.

Journey to success

The customer journey does not follow a linear curve but is rather formed individually by a number of touch points. Technological developments are enabling even more to connect online and offline steps to that journey. QR-codes make it possible to call up product information, mobile apps allow easier product search and purchasing, while stores offer pick up same day. Consumers appreciate the comfort-level and differences of online shopping, but they don’t plan to renounce the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. The main challenge for brands is keeping an eye on further innovations to create a cohesive omnichannel shopping experience – with the consumer at the center of all efforts.

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Fashion Influencer

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Why the fashion industry should be optimistic about the future and embrace upcoming challenges.

The heyday of fashion is over. This is how a lot of fashion companies in Europe and the US feel, following global issues such as Brexit, current US-China trade disputes and the rise of protectionism on both sides of the Atlantic.

On top of those, a lot of powerful players in the Asian region have left behind their cheap supplier role to directly and confidently challenge their European and American counterparts. And not only are they winning, they’re dominating their domestic markets.

Meanwhile, according to McKinsey´s State of Fashion 2019, emerging new markets such as India and China are developing at a rapid pace and overtaking the established ones.

While India currently has the highest growth rate, China, on the other hand, is now the world’s largest fashion market – ahead of the US.

Source: McKinsey, State of Fashion 2019, p. 26

In today, out tomorrow

Once upon a time, fashion manufacturers dictated how often collections come out and limited them to two a year. Nowadays, consumers not only expect something new all the time, but they drive current trends primarily via social media.

The power of the consumer influencer

Gone are the days when brands rule fashion from up their ivory tower, as today’s consumers have taken over. Self-confident and knowledgeable, millennials and generation Z tell brands what, where, how and when they want something.

Thanks to Amazon, they’re also used to not having to wait long. They use digital channels as a matter of course and have access to a multitude of product information, offerings and inspirations.

Thus, they have usually already made a purchasing decision long before they appear on the radar of companies.

They often don’t even get their inspiration from fashion labels and retailers, but from prominent social media influencers and opinionated peers, with emotional experience as the trigger.

The importance of brand presentation

If today’s consumers are both online and offline and on different channels, it’s essential for fashion brands to ensure a consistent brand image and product presentation on all touch points.

Although the work can be challenging, technologies such as Product Information Management (PIM) can help to centrally manage product data and deliver it to the right touch point – without spending too much time on manual work.

A PIM also has analytics tools that can provide insight into consumer behavior. With this, fashion companies are empowered to deliver a consistent product and brand experience to potential customers and influencers.

Digital channels as game changers


Source: McKinsey & Company analysis based on Instagram data, State of Fashion 2019, p 73

Social Media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or WeChat, is the new showroom. Therefore, “digital first” should be a top priority for all businesses that want to be successful — big fashion brands, start-ups and niche providers, alike.

But unlike established brands, the newcomers are not slowed down by rigid business processes. The small challengers, in particular, are posting through the roof fan base growth rates of up to 300%.

With the help of new technologies, concepts and business models, they react quickly to market conditions and focus on customer interaction.

For them, e-commerce is the way to go, but in addition to their own shops, they also rely on the diverse possibilities of social and mobile commerce to reach consumers on the spot.

Among others, Patagonia uses Pinterest to increase sales opportunities and awareness

Sustainability and trust

In recent years, ethical resource management and humanitarian and social values have increasingly become decision-making criteria for consumers on whether to trust a brand or not.

Whether it’s the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh or the burning of unsold collections somewhere else – various scandals involving global brands have left their mark on consumers.

Sustainability, fairness and transparency also play an important role in gaining trust, especially for the millennials and Generation Z.

According to McKinsey´s “State of Fashion 2019 Consumer Shifts”, more than a third of consumers include these points in their purchasing decisions: choice of materials, traceability of the value chain, uniform information and the sustainable use of products.

This can be an opportunity to realign the brand, examine new business areas and show a clear attitude with a consistent appearance. In addition, new technologies such as blockchain can help to document the supply chain seamlessly in the future.

Everlane pursues a sustainable approach and relies heavily on social media.

Using digital technologies

The path of the customer from first contact to purchase or the customer journey consists of a number of contact points. It’s almost impossible to maintain each point manually and, at the same time, provide consistent information.

But systems for the central maintenance, administration and output of product information, copy and media data, such as images and videos, can help to simplify this task enormously.

Analytics and product experience management tools also make it possible to get to know consumers better and provide them with relevant information at the right time.

E-commerce systems, mobile shopping apps, sophisticated search functions and recommendation tools make it as easy as possible for customers to find the product they want and make the purchase.

Partner platforms such as Amazon, Zalando and Otto increase the reach, and social media increases awareness, customer loyalty and the desire to buy.

There’s a lot of opportunities and chances, as well as challenges to tackle in the “Year of Awakening”, as McKinsey´s newest “State of Fashion 2019” calls it. So, it’s time to get down to business with agility, speed and new business ideas.

4 Essentials For The Delivery of an Excellent Product Experience

Woman smiling because of great product experience

4 Essentials for the Delivery of an Excellent Product Experience

Excellent product experience delivery goes beyond ensuring core product satisfaction. Imagine buying one of the popular smartphones out there only to discover later on that it has poor customer support and an even worse return policy. The product itself may be good, as it’s popular after all, but if its ancillary services are a hit or a miss, what’s stopping you from switching to the better brand and leaving a bad review?

Product experience, then, is the customer’s emotional response to the product at every touch point. To excel in product experience, brands must elicit a positive emotional response from consumers each time they interact with a product at every touch point.

How to Get Started:

1. Identify your target’s pain points. To manage experiences, you must first manage expectations. And what consumers expect from ecommerce sites boils down to:

  • UI/UX optimized
  • Accurate and complete product information
  • Unlimited selections or assortment of products
  • Personalized offerings
  • Availability of reviews and ratings
  • Shopping convenience, including flexible payment schemes
  • Discounts and promos with loyalty reward offers
  • Free delivery and pick up options
  • Painless return policy

2. Build a technology infrastructure that can support your content creation and distribution strategy. Top brands implement the concept of product experience management (PXM) to distribute relevant and targeted content at the best times and to the precise targets in order to: deliver the desired experiences and elicit positive emotions, build a relationship with customers and eventually inspire loyalty and expand market share.

According to Gartner, a PXM adds the following capabilities to a product information management solution (PIM):

  • Product content analytics
  • Personalization
  • Contextualization
  • Automation and optimization using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)

3. Create Compelling Content. As with customer experience, the great differentiator for brands in ecommerce is content. Top brands not only address shopper pain points, but work to exceed their expectations. So, through rich and contextual content, you could communicate, engage and build a relationship with consumers, hoping it eventually leads to not just sales, but even endorsement and loyalty. Note, though, that what’s compelling for one may not be the same for another, hence the rise of personalization. By doing a demographics and psychographics deep dive, you could create content that anticipates and addresses a consumer’s particular need, and then position yourself as the credible solution provider.

For more inspired content, you can checkout Warby Parker’s and Airbnb’s websites.

4. Use Analytics for Insights. Brands need insights into their product content performance to come up with tweaks and improvements that could drive consumers deeper into the sales funnel. With analytics, you could also see associations and affinities between your products and customers.

Not only that, by leveraging your operational and transactional data, you could make better business decisions, such as how to:

  • Best respond to rapid changes in market conditions
  • Adjust pricing
  • Improve market segmentation
  • Address seasonal demands

Now You Know the Essentials, Do You Have the Tools to Start?

By using a combination of features and advanced technologies that facilitate not only the on-boarding, enrichment and management of data, but one that can also help you create targeted, contextual and emotionally-engaging product communication.

  • PIM – It’s the foundational piece to a PXP. With a PIM, you can collect, maintain and distribute accurate, complete and consistent product information across all channels. This is important because when it comes to e-commerce sites, consumers expect accurate and in-depth product information.
  • Master Data Management (MDM) – This solution allows you to accelerate business processes by connecting all data in your product information supply chain. An MDM also helps you ensure data quality and security, create golden records, and control versions.
  • Marketing Experience Management (MxM) – The perfect complement to your PIM and MDM, an MxM enables you to exceed consumer expectations through timely delivery of personalized product experiences across channels. With an MxM, you can offer dynamic promotions and adjust them in real-time based on insights gathered from analytics.