Adapting to and Thriving in the New Normal
Final sale clearances. Thousands of store closures. Big-brand bankruptcies. It is no secret that retail has been struggling in recent years, due to the inability to keep up with evolving customer preferences and an ever-changing landscape. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has only further exacerbated and magnified these existing issues, leading to even more retailers filing bankruptcies (27 YTD as of September 14th, 2020) this year.
Most noticeably, apparel retailers have been heavily impacted, with spending drops of nearly 80% from March to April of this year. Fortunately, apparel sales have since bounced back a bit, but year-over-year clothing and accessories sales are still down 24%. With reduced demand for new clothing, stores enforcing reduced capacities, and general health and safety concerns, e-commerce has become the need of the hour, but it is also the key to propelling success for apparel retailers beyond the pandemic. This change can further be seen by the successes – and failures – of Q2 results for clothing retailers.
It is therefore evident that a robust digital commerce strategy is no longer just a nice-to-have – it is a bottom-line necessity for retailer survival.
In previous blog posts, our consultants have discussed key strategies to succeeding during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic – like offering thoughtful omnichannel retail experiences, creating customer-centric supply chains with intelligently selected micro-fulfillment center targeted assortments and an agile network, and enabling digitization. Beyond these, the following are essential, particularly for retailers in the fashion and apparel space:
An analytics-driven individualized shopping experience
Today’s customers want to be seen and receive a catered experience, both in-store and online. It is imperative that retailers leverage the data that is collected across a variety of channels to generate unique insights and provide meaningful experiences. Among the ways that retailers can leverage analytics are:
- Presenting personalized recommendations, created through analyzing individual in-store and online shopping behaviors
- Curating looks/outfits through analyzing SKU affinities and order combinations that are frequently purchased together
- Suggesting alternatives when a desired item is out-of-stock through substitution analysis
Through all these methods of an analytics-driven individualized shopping experience, retailers can thus drive repeat business and subsequent sales.
An in-store experience that augments the online shopping experience
As stores begin to open, it may be a while before previous levels of foot traffic are achieved. A digital-first strategy will be important to adapting in the short-term, but a unified omnichannel approach that breaks down the silos between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce will be crucial to thriving in the long-term. This method could exist in the form of a mobile app that accompanies a customer through their in-store and online shopping experiences, loyalty programs that reward repeat business across all channels and provide incentive to shop on alternate channels (i.e. an in-store discount after shopping online or an online coupon after shopping in-store), and/or continuing to roll-out and champion store pickup channels (both in-store and curbside).
Essential for survival, fashion retailers must embrace digital commerce and leverage it to build positive omnichannel shopping experiences. At Bricz, we are passionate about empowering you to succeed through the ever-changing retail landscape. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we can enable you to not only adapt but thrive in the new normal.
Contributors: Mahati Vavilala, Supply Chain Consultant at Bricz