Confusion. Now Available in Digital.

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I’m having a LOT of conversations about the need for digital talent. There seems to be an endless stream of confusion around this topic in general and even more questions around who to hire and for what type of role.

We’re just not sure exactly what we need. We’re having a hard time distilling down our goals into a translatable job description and functional position. How do we structure the role within the larger organization; who are their cross functional partners? 

Does this sound familiar? Let’s all take a deep breath and consider the solution…

Step 1: Determine leadership level

You know you need digital leadership but maybe you can’t afford a senior level executive. Hey, no hard feelings. This is real life. Director level talent will still offer the leadership you need to develop strategy, build and guide teams while still having close hands-on experience with execution. 

Step 2: Name your price

On a budget? Forget the C-Suite, skip the VP and aim for Director level talent. This will cut your price tag in half. Literally. Decide what you can afford, realistically.

Step 3: Structure the role

You have a lot of needs but aren’t sure how to structure a position that reflects your goals. I could wax on about the various functions within DTC but instead I’ll break it down into three major camps of talent for the sake of sanity and simplicity. Emphasis sanity.

Digital Marketing: Integrated marketing channels i.e. SEO, email, paid search, paid social, PPC, etc. Highly analytical and driven by KPIs and metrics.

Brand / Content Marketing: Brand communication strategy. Establishes creative tone, content and copy through channels. Typically, more creative and conceptual.

eCommerce: Site functionality, site experience, operational and sales. Customer acquisition and retention.

Major broad strokes but most Digital and DTC roles will align with one of these three. You can mix and match or combine elements from each role as well.

Customize. 

There’s no one size fits all. When we develop digital positions, we begin by determining the long term strategic goals and then reverse engineer the position based on these goals considering the company size, needs and circumstances both immediate and future. 

Happy Hunting

Digital Customer Experience, and the Curation of it All

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Author: Maggie Walsh

Aesthetics and ease are the two most important components of the digital customer experience (DCX). Websites aren’t just selling product anymore. They’re selling experiences. Customers want to enter a digital world and feel like they belong, or that they aspire to belong. And they want it to be simple and pain-free. The companies that prioritize these ideals create a winning DCX, and ultimately, customer retention.

Companies like Glossier and Bando have a vibe that makes their customers feel like part of a lifestyle.  The photos are curated and interesting, product descriptions are pithy, and graphics add to the overall feel of the company - all of it elevating the DCX. In online retailing especially, the product can’t speak for itself the same way it can in a brick-and-mortar retail store. The website has to assist in telling the product story to make customers buy into the products, and by extension, the brand.

Aesthetics include not only beautiful product and graphics, but quality. Quality of a website enhances the DCX, making the customer feel comfortable entering their personal and financial information. Professional and secure websites are instrumental in gaining a customer’s trust and loyalty.

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule. Amazon, the online giant no one can slay, has arguably the worst aesthetic of any online retail superpower. What they have done right is make it so easy to shop, it’s sincerely hard for any customer not to. Amazon Prime, recommended/related items, and Alexa have created a user-friendly online eco-system that keeps a customer enmeshed in the Amazon of it all. One-click purchase and high page loading speed prevents frustrated customers from abandoning their cart. A January 2018 article on Inc.com proves the importance of technical ease, “just a 1-second delay in load time can hurt (purchase) conversion rates by 7 percent.” Amazon has made it a priority to make the journey from product search to order confirmation a frictionless process. What Amazon lacks in beauty, it makes up tenfold in utility.

DCX extends to all digital platforms – including social media presence and mobile friendliness. Customers are increasingly online shopping from the comfort of their phones.  A difficult experience during a mobile session is a surefire way to lose a customer. If your website isn’t easy to navigate, the customer will find one that is. Websites have to translate their aesthetic to social media in a way that makes sense for the brand, while creating interesting content that customers want to see beyond product placement.

There aren’t a lot of subjects I consider myself an expert in, but online shopping is one of them. While waiting in line at Starbucks, I’m just as likely to be browsing dresses on Shopbop as I am to be scrolling through Instagram. The sites and brands I return to again and again are the sites that are fun to look through and easy to navigate. They feel most adjacent to walking into one of my favorite stores. That is the winning formula for DCX.

 

 

 

 

 

Endangered List:  Chief Digital Officer

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Author: Maggie Walsh

When it comes to C-Suite positions, executives can generally count on the staying power of their position. Most companies will always need a CEO, a CFO, and a CMO. But what about the relatively new Chief Digital Officer (CDO)? Can they count on a tenured spot within the company? The strategy for most CDO positions is a relatively short-term one. Companies expect a CDO to come on board, right the digital ship, and then move those maintenance and update responsibilities to parallel executives, like marketing, technology or information.

A November 2017 study predicted that the CDO will be phased out of most companies by 2025 (gartner.com). That feels counter-intuitive, given how digital-driven life has become in 2018. The reason for the disappearing CDO is twofold. One, a lot of the responsibilities that belong to the CDO are duplicates. Two, the main goal for the CDO is to take a company who is behind in their digital strategy and bring them up to speed. Luxury fashion, for example, is an industry that is notoriously behind the technological times. Luxury has felt somewhat exempt from the digital revolution for all these years. However, they are finally realizing they can no longer hold out, and are modernizing their strategies with the help of CDOs.

In a study conducted by PwC, only 19% of organizations reported having a CDO in 2016, and 60% of those CDOs were appointed between 2015 and 2016 (pwc.com). What seems like such a vital piece of a company’s overall health appears to be in the hands of, essentially, temporary employees. The CDO comes in when the digital situation is dire, and they improve the internal and external digital user experience, and move on - acting as digital “fixers”. The CDO of Shiseido succinctly described the purpose of the CDO to Glossy.com, saying, “CDOs are temporary. We are here to inject a new way of working, one that is about ongoing experimentation, trial and error, fail forward, push forward . . . We can be successful in this job if we are out as fast as possible.”

CDOs face the exciting challenge of reviving a company’s digital scope, while maintaining its original DNA. While this can be difficult, it is a high risk/high reward situation - especially in retail, where revamped web sites historically produce a stronger revenue stream, an easy measure of success. Getting there can be difficult, as CDOs often aren’t given their own team, but rely on various marketing or tech employees for strategy execution.

Why do CDOs only exist in a short burst? Why don’t companies want to continue to evolve their digital footprint and experience even after tech mistakes have been corrected? Isn’t there room for a CDO as the importance of user experience, systems, and a company’s digital face continues to grow with the technology available? In order to continue to NOT have a digital problem, it feels essential for companies to keep a CDO who will continue to grow the digital side of the business. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2025 to get the answer to that question.

 

 

Achieving Customer Satisfaction In Omni-Channel Retailing

In the U.S. today, the web influences slightly more than 50% of all the retail purchases made. That number is expected to rise to 60% in the next two years.  This digital revolution has brought about a commerce revolution and traditional brick and mortar stores must evolve with the changes in order to stay afloat. The ways in which consumers shop are changing and in order to compete, retailers must create a seamless experience between their online and physical stores. While this may be a challenge, it also offers huge opportunities for increased sales due to the many available channels through which customers can be reached. The very channels that allow multi- channel commerce ( or Omni-channel commerce as it is often called),  and present these opportunities, also create a new set of challenges for the retailer.

Consumer Expectations

Consumer expectation is higher than ever. Particularly when it comes to millennials, they want instant gratification in both advertising as well as the shopping experience. In a fast paced, digital society, time is of the essence to the consumer. They want to be able to purchase what they want, when they want it, and on any type of device.

Changes in Technology

There are a huge number of apps being developed for online shopping, but it seems that keeping up with them is nearly impossible. What's shiny and new today may be obsolete by tomorrow. Finding technology that works well for your business is imperative to success.

Global Competition

While having an online presence means that you reach more potential customers, it also means that you are experiencing an entirely new field of competition. Globalization is a reality and distinguishing yourself from the competition is a must. You are now competing not only with the shop down the street, but with those around the globe.

Retailers must take all of these things into consideration when creating a seamless shopping experience. They must also play on the advantages of their physical stores. What can customers get from a physical store that they can’t get online? Superior, one on one, customer service. Combining the online browsing experience with the customer service available in a physical store is one of the most important things a retailer can do. It’s gratifying to a consumer to know that the pair of boots that they just viewed online is at a store just a few miles away. In that way, your online presence can boost sales tremendously. While it is nearly impossible for every store to stock all of the items that are available online, knowing which products are most popular and making them available in your stores is the perfect place to start.

In addition, your online and physical stores should have a similar look and feel. Creating these consistencies between your physical spaces and your online channels is very important. To consumers, your brand is viewed as a whole and it should be presented that way. Your store’s visuals should be updated as frequently as your other channels in order to produce a cohesive shopping experience between online and brick and mortar stores.

Use your online channels to further personalize the customer service in your physical stores. It is inherent to humans to want a personal experience that is completely tailored to the individual. Online stores access customer records, including browsing and purchase history. With this information, they know the likes, wants, and needs, of the customer and can personalize that customer’s interactions based on those criteria. The site uses shopping and browsing history to provide recommendations that are tailor made to each customer.

The logical step is for retailers to use that data that already exists online to bring that personalized experience that customers get online, into their stores. The key is using technology that enables you to identify customers who shop in your store. This can be done by using a customer’s email address, a loyalty card number, or even a telephone number, allowing you to access not only the purchases made in physical stores, but online as well. In order to do this however, sales associates must be given the technology to enable them to access customer data easily. This, in turn, personalizes the shopping experience even further and allows associates to make reference to it and even suggest things that the customer might be interested in. For example, with purchase history data, an associate might suggest a pair of shoes that would complement a recently purchased outfit or handbag.

The digital age has brought about many changes to retailers, but if you adapt with the changes, your business will thrive as it never has before. Taking all of the information available about your customers allows you to put them at the center of your business and give them the seamless, personalized shopping experience that they are looking for.

 

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Photo: BoF

eCommerce Questions and Answers

If you’ve purchased an item online, there’s a good chance you believe you have experienced the future direction of shopping. While digital commerce is certainly a part of the future of shopping, this doesn’t really scratch the surface. To help you gain some additional insight, here are a few questions and answers on this topic.

Question: Which Brands Have Digital Commerce Down to a Science?

Answer: The truth is, several brands are handling different segments of digital commerce well. As of now, no single entity has mastered the art. Although,  more are working towards a seamless customer experience where customers are having an exceptional experience.

Question: Realistically, What Elements are the Most Important for a Major Company to Have Success in Digital Commerce?

Answer: The entire digital commerce landscape goes beyond just one element. It begins with a major brand coming in and opening the doors for others. This brand then brings in social channels and builds a powerful platform that brings customers to it.  The consumer than can view products, differentiate between several options and review the content in a single location.

Question: Are Traditional Retailers Out of Luck with digital Commerce, Or Can They Use it To Boost Sales?

Answer: Yes, a brick and mortar company can find success in a digital landscape. To do this, they do need to drive online traffic to their website and reach out beyond their local market. Doing this requires having exceptional SEO skills and some kind of brand leverage. You may also want to include things like PPC advertising and ads on social media.

Question: How Can Physical Retailers Adapt to the Changing Shopping Landscape?

Answer: Online retailers don’t want you to know this, but the truth is most purchases still happen in a physical store. More brick and mortar locations are not only presenting their inventory in a better manner, but they are choosing to be more experimental with what they have in stock. Physical locations have an advantage, because provide instant gratification to a customer, who doesn’t have to wait a long period of time to obtain an item. They also aren’t faced with shipping fees either built into the price of an item for “free shipping” or on top of the low prices that are listed.

Question: Should I Turn to Amazon to Sell My Fashion Products Online?

Answer: If you are an established company, no. While Amazon is a great place to sell your products, there is a downside to using them. First, you lose some of the margin you would make off an item. Secondly, you end up losing valuable customer data.

Question: What Role Will Brick and Mortar Stores Play In the Future of Shopping

Answer: Realistically, your physical retail locations aren’t going anywhere. While the number of major brand stores like JC Penny’s, Macy’s and similar locations might dwindle to offset costs, there will always be a physical location open for consumers to go to. After all, if you need a dress in two hours for a major interview or event, you can’t order from somewhere like Amazon and still make it to the event on time. Keep that in mind, the next time someone tells you that digital sales will doom traditional shopping.

 

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Department Store Survival Guide

Just like any industry, fashion needs to evolve, so it can survive the high level of competition. Department stores are known to have a collection of ready-to-wear apparel for men, women, and children, of any age. Both their offline and online versions are starting to change certain elements in the way they do things for their customers.

Maintaining your name in fashion is a challenge. In every corner of the globe, designers compete to have their work in every major department store in their area. In turn, the department stores make sure that their designs appeal to the frequenting customers. Macroevolution is taking place in the fashion industry and the retail stores should be able to keep up. Once department stores determine what they should do, their profitable future is certain. There should be a hybrid from a cross between fashion and the technology.

Product and frequency change

Accessories and leather goods make up seventy-five percent of exported fashion products. Apparel and Footwear make up the remaining twenty-five percent. It seems that frequent updated collections influence the choice of many fashion conscious customers. Because of their busy lifestyles, customers need an assembled look, rather than a look they construct on their own.

Transparency and sustainability are mandatory

Fashion companies now realize the vital roles of transparency and sustainability. Recently, they have been using eco-friendly materials in making their products. The latest technology in achieving this is the fiber recycling technology. It is now being tested by both H&M and Kering. The technology involves the separation and extraction of materials from used or old clothes. The materials (fibers) are spun again into new fibers.

Emergence of new roles

A brand is not just a name and a logo anymore. There has to be a story behind it. This is where e-branding steps in. Information is then obtained from that data, which is returned to the process of product development. This makes the products have more character and meaning.

Digital is everything

Physical presentations are not that hot anymore. Companies prefer 3D pattern designers to conventional sketchers because of their online clientele. Digital product presentations need a different “eye”, so that the products can present well on the company websites. One example is a black on black product. Online customers like black because of the drama and the character. The online presentation of this product requires a skilled digital pattern designer, so that the details can pop.

Brand new skill sets

Fashion is now in need of designers with the following skill sets:

  1. Technical-minded. Designers should not stick to the pencil anymore. They should be knowledgeable in waterless dyeing, sublimation printing, 3D printing, textile innovations, and 3D designs.
  2. Creative. This is always an essential train in every designer. Creativity should not remain locked in designing. It should also radiate towards strategy formation and problem solving.
  3. Multi-cultural. Geography and language should not be obstacles in fashion anymore.
  4. Strategicand task-driven. The big picture should always be in front of every employee in the fashion industry. The skills to execute methods to attain the set objectives are necessary as well.
  5. Cooperative. This is vital in achieving the quality, design, and speed objectives.

 

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Photo: Retail Insider

What Customization Means For The Future of Retail

There’s an old cliché, the shirt makes the man. In the right dress shirt, a man can appear sophisticated, successful, and even wealthy. That is especially when the shirt is perfectly tailored and designed for them. So if you pulled a homeless man off the street washed them up and put them in the same shirt, would anyone know the truth?

Chances are, they wouldn’t. With that in mind, how does the philosophy of a dress shirt apply to the future of retail? In this case, think of it as a way to present yourself in a fashion that delivers results. Today, you have hundreds of companies who specialize in different areas who are vying for your business. When you make a decision on the company you go with, who do you choose? Chances are, it isn’t the one with the best price or the highest quality. It is the one who presents themselves in a manner that is appealing and lets you believe their claim they are the best, even if it is just a perception.

Now, say you are looking for a dress shirt and you found a company that will customize the same shirt for you. They take your measurements online, tailor it and send it directly to your home for an affordable price. With this shirt, you don’t have to worry about sleeves that are too long, a collar that’s too tight or a length that is too long. It is perfectly crafted to fit you so that you look your best.

Companies like Trumaker do that. The brainchild of Michael Zhang and Mark Lovas, the company is focused on getting the best fitting shirt on your body. This is also done with information the user inputs into the system and an algorithm helps to create the best design options for the individual. The individual then chooses what they want and the plans are sent to a shirt maker who uses the pattern to create the shirts. This customization allows a person to have more of a say in the product they receive and to look polished in a one of a kind shirt.

More importantly, there is almost no overhead for the Trumaker team. They outsource the shirts to Malaysia to make and only have to produce the patterns they want created. This is similar to the approach Dell took to making computers in the 90s and early 2000s. At this time, they had a small inventory and built computers based on the specifications a customer needed. They could then charge a premium price customers were willing to pay, since the system was handcrafted to their needs.

The company also experiences another benefit. There are no leftover designs and styles that need to be reduced to cover their associated costs. That also means no patterns or sales are required and no staff necessary to handle the bulk of the transaction, since the computer is able to automate almost the entire process.

Today, more companies are going to this highly customized development concept. Where startup is inexpensive and customers get an exceptional product for a fraction of the price. In fact, most customers find they get a better deal when compared to purchasing manufactured items. The reason is the reduced overhead allows higher quality upgrades to be offered for a fraction of the cost. In the case of the shirt, buttons can be upgraded, as can fabric and even embroider for considerably less than it costs to pick up a premium shirt in a store with costly overhead.

What this means is the future of retail needs to look beyond having one size fit all stock. Instead, they should reduce their inventory and allow for on the spot customization that allows for individuality and significant savings for the company.

 

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Photo: The Independent

Create A Unique Shopping Experience With This Software

Software API and the Usability of the System

A problem companies have when they look at Omni-Channel software, is that the API system doesn’t meet their needs. Frequently, companies prevent you from effectively using this software, in order to have you buy directly from them and pay them to make the software useable for you. A true Omni-Channel industry leader is someone who worries more about delivering a product that works for you.

API is the application programing interface. For this portion of the software, you need it to do a few things for your online business. First, the software should effectively use the internet and browser features to create the best online buying experience for your customers. Secondly, it should maximize the use of SOAP and REST to effectively run your website.

The next area the software should excel in is architecture. The system should include a database that is easy to navigate and it should allow for information to appear on the screen.

Customization then ties into that. Ideally, the best software is one that allows you to fully customize it. It should allow businesses to create a shopping experience that is unique to them and their brand. All of this should be achievable without having to add any additional code to the software in the process. After all, software should be ready to go for your company from the start.

Multi-Channel leadership is a must. In 2015 and beyond, this is vital for the success of an online business. If any program doesn’t offer this to you as a customer, begin looking at other options that are available. Most exceptional programs will advertise this feature and go through how flexible they are in terms of options. That is something to look for when you are considering the software as a possibility.

Finally, it is important to ensure there is an ecosystem in place that delivers. You want something that allows you to choose from a number of add ons that can seamlessly integrate and benefit your business.

To help you get started, here are a few products you can consider. Keep in mind that this is only a tiny sample of the options you have available to you:

•    Lightspeed •    Microsoft RMS •    Netsuite

Omni-Channel software will continue to evolve. While there was a time when the best you could find was a batch system that updated to a central hub on occasion, massive advances have been made since then. Today you will find software that updates in real time, and that allows you to better track inventory and improve the experience of your customers.

 

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How Cloud Technology Could Help You Generate Billions

Regardless of company size, today’s companies deal with a global supply chain. The complex supply chain often makes management difficult. Companies often try to solve this problem by bringing together various systems to deal with sales, accounting, order management, warehouse, etc. By using multiple systems, companies end up with an incomplete business view, business complexity and inefficiency, lack of necessary, timely information, and the cost of business goes out of control. Instead of time being spent on activities that drive business, companies spend all their time dealing with all of different systems and the challenges they bring with them.

It’s always difficult to compete successfully in the fashion industry, and success requires the perfect combination of quality products, effort, dedication, and passion. Unfortunately, smaller organizations often have to use crucial personnel sources to managing the company’s IT instead of focusing those individuals on driving more business to the company. For smaller retailers, leveraging cloud technology has the power to level the playing field, resulting in success.

Using cloud technology offers smaller fashion brands the ability to drive better efficiency by automating the company’s business processes. Leveraging the cloud also helps companies find new ways to cut costs, manage cash flow, cut overhead, and drive top line and bottom line improvements. With the cloud, companies are able to have a complete view of the business. The cloud also helps streamline dynamic processes. Companies also benefit from the ability to access information anywhere and anytime. Most importantly, using cloud technology also helps companies to lower the costs of operations.

Why should your fashion company consider the cloud now? Here are just a few of the benefits of using the cloud:

  • Reliable Backup – You’re better protected from natural disasters and it’s easier to get your business up and running after a problem.
  • Flexibility – You’ll be able to easily manage other pieces of your business.
  • Accessibility – You can access your information no matter where you are located.
  • Ability to Outsource Non-core Business – If IT isn’t your strong point, you have the ability to outsource items that aren’t core to your business.
  • Improved Communication – It’s easier to communicate across all levels of the business.
  • Less Administration – Your company will spend less time dealing with administrative tasks.
  • Ramp Up Quickly When Needed – The cloud can be ramped up quickly when your company begins to grow.

One example of how cloud technology can level the playing field is GoPro. Today, everyone knows who GoPro is, but GoPro started as a small seven-employee company. GoPro used cloud technology to begin build their company infrastructure. The company also used cloud technology to increase the reach of their product, from online retailers to big box retailers while also ensuring that customers could purchase direct. Since GoPro implemented cloud technology, they went from a small start up to a billion dollar company.

Another company that has seen success with cloud technology is Ibex. The company was expecting growth and began to use cloud software. After leveraging cloud technology, the company had a huge boost in warehouse output, they saw 50% growth, and they saved thousands of dollars compared to using a sever-based system.

From processing orders to managing marketing opportunities, cloud technology has the potential to help smaller companies with every aspect of their business. Cloud technology offers small companies the ability to focus on what they do best, increasing company growth, reducing costs, and increasing profits.

 

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The New Innovations Making Department Stores Irrelevant

Will traditional department stores as we know them become irrelevant to the fashion world? The founders of some fashion startups say that it is becoming easier than ever to take fashion brands directly to the consumer. This can be done with business models, such as subscription, as well as with various mobile apps that consumers can keep up to date on the latest trends.

Rent the Runway has opened the door to new shopping experiences for customers. One of the ways is subscribing to receive items monthly. Chief executive and co-founder of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman states that “A huge part of our business is subscription.”  Though the subscription service was launched just last year, the company has been in business since 2009 and has nearly 5 million customers.

Companies are also combining the use of physical stores with their online and subscription models to help reach customers directly with new brands. This effectively negates the necessity of sharing margins with multi-brand stores or malls. Rent the Runway, which has multiple physical stores, is just one example of this strategy. The stores were opened after the launch of the e-commerce platform and witnessing the success of physical stores launched by other brands such as Warby Parker with the eyeglass startup.

Subscription companies like Birchbox, with its beauty items, Netflix, for movies, and ClassPass, for workouts, have paved the way for consumers to embrace new ways to buy things and new ways to have them delivered. The innovative new mobile app Spring gives vast numbers of fashion brands the opportunity to display, as well as sell, their products within the app. With the development of these, as well as other innovative methods, startup founders maintain that multi-brand retailers are becoming less of a necessity than in the past.

Previously, one aspect that made department stores necessary was the exposure that they gave to new brands. In the technologically connected society of today, the exposure that they once offered has become less relevant to sales. A large portion of new product discoveries are now being made via Pinterest for women and Instagram rather than in stores and malls. These social media platforms serve as virtual catalogues and virtual malls for women around the world today.

Similarly, the Spring mobile app aids consumers in the discovery of products from a multitude of brands. In addition to discovering these items, the brands themselves manage not only the shopping experience, but the packaging as well as shipment of their products. This is something that isn’t possible with department stores.

Chief executive and co-founder of Stowaway Cosmetics, Julie Frederickson, believes that these new models are bringing about the “end of wholesale.” By being enabled to directly reach consumers, new companies are able to avoid the inefficiencies inherent to the wholesale fashion business. Ms. Frederickson went so far as to say that if a company such as Sephora offered to distribute her cosmetics she wouldn’t hesitate to reject the offer.

Will traditional department stores become irrelevant? Probably not in the near future, but with the age of technology in full swing, consumers have more choices than ever before when it comes to how and where they shop.

 

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6 Tips To Surviving The Digital Revolution

Across many industries, information technologies continue to significantly change business operations. Technology-driven companies, such as Google and Apple, may be ruling the world, but many traditional businesses and brands are paying the price. For example, Uber continues to take away from traditional taxi service business all over the world. If fashion brands fail to adapt to today’s technology, could they also lose out to technology-driven brands?

Consider the fashion industry’s retail side and it appears that this may be the case. Digital champions, such as Vente-Privee, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, and Zalando have quickly risen in popularity, taking billions of dollars in revenue away from traditional fashion retailers. Unfortunately, much of the fashion world continues to ignore the rise of technology, continuing to hold on to old habits. If fashion companies want to survive in the digital world, it’s essential that they begin following a few digital tips, embracing today’s tech revolution.

Tip #1 – Focus Marketing on Data and Digital

Today’s consumers aren’t spending as much time with traditional media – they’re spending more time online. This trend continues to grow as mobile technology becomes even more popular. It’s essential for fashion brands to follow customers to new devices and platforms. With social media, fashion brands have the ability to directly engage with consumers, using their content and using consumers as brand advocates. These interactions can be tracked as well, allowing brands to collect a huge amount of customer data via social media, stores, and websites. This allows fashion brands to better understand their customers, as well as what is influencing their sales.

Tip #2 – Rethink the Physical Retail Experience

Take a look at how Apple handles the physical retail experience. They eliminated tills, humanized transactions, and maximized their selling space. Fashion brands might consider taking a page from Apple’s book. Today’s brands must provide consumers with multichannel experiences, focusing on delivering an “experience” in their physical stores, offering great service and increasing the chances of upselling while the customers are present.

Tip #3 – More Direct and Less Wholesale

Instead of relying on traditional wholesale, which brings multiple challenges, brands should focus on direct selling. The web makes it easy for fashion brands to sell directly, which offers several benefits. Just a few of the benefits include presenting entire collections, staying in control, creating relationships with final customers, and increasing margins.

Tip #4 – Focus on Product Innovation

Products that blend fashion and technology are available, but most of them are coming from the technology world. One example is the Apple Watch. Fashion brands not only have the power of their brand, they also have design and style skills, which many technology players lack. New products should integrate new technologies, such as 3D printing and smart fabrics, all the while ensuring that new products are aligned with the lifestyle proposition of the brand. Fashion brands can also come up with innovative products by collaborating with technology firms.

Tip #5 – Create Digital Brands

When fashion brands embrace technology, it offers them the ability to create new digital brands, offering special products only available on the web. For example, Misguided, a UK company, has built a womenswear brand that has seen great success, and it was grown organically by word-of-mouth marketing. Other digital brands that stand out include Warby Parker, Reformation, Bonobos, and NastyGal.

Tip #6 – Transform the Funding Model

The transformation of finance and the availability of alternative funding available to fashion entrepreneurs can offer many benefits to fashion brands. Venture Capital is an alternative funding option, and crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter and Angellist, offer the ability to raise money. Fashion brands can also find new ways to fund working capital from platforms like Lending Club or Funding Circle, which is useful at a time when most banks are cautious about lending.

As technology continues to move forward, fashion brands must adapt and overcome. Using these tips is essential for the survival of fashion companies. After all, the fashion industry cannot continue to ignore technology.

 

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Photo: Midland EDC

This 3-Step Process Will Increase Customer Acquisition

Customer-Engagement
Customer-Engagement

With rapid development of online technologies, increased consumer awareness of the market, and heightened competition, it is becoming more important for companies in the fashion industry to digitize their customer insights and streamline their online processes.

Those who adapt to technology will find more success with a larger share of the market. In a fast paced retail environment, what are the three areas of focus that can help businesses to gain new insights while providing a better experience?

The process is relatively simple. Discover, design, and develop. Businesses that understand each step are those that will enjoy the benefits of their investment in research, marketing, and consumer engagement.

Discovery – The Importance of Information

Consolidation of data is more important than ever. Capturing data from multiple channels requires that the data be stored on a centralized server for easy accessibility when performing analytics. Signals can be obtained from channels that range from social media, to external consumer review sites, and of course online retail and even brick and mortar storefronts.

Purpose built tools can be used to collect and consolidate data. Teradata is one company that develops analytics software with the sole purpose of consolidating data from different sources. Depending on the complexity of a business, customized software solutions may be required.

One challenge of discovery is that the collection of data can be resource intensive. This is one reason why moving to cloud based and networked solutions between sites is essential for larger retail operations.

Design – Help Consumers to Help You

One sure way to increase consumer engagement for the purpose of data capture, is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to interact. Online presence is the simplest, least costly, and most effective way to drive engagement and collect data. 24/7 digital storefronts mean that businesses can trial product ideas, advertise existing lines, and drive feedback. Businesses should aim to provide a cohesive experience that incorporates advertising, discovery, and retail.

Although surprising, there are businesses that operate separate sites and gateways for promotion and sales. Consolidating online presence means that insight becomes easier to collect. Businesses also need to be aware of newly established technologies such as smartphones. The online experience should be responsive so that the experience is unified across devices. Interactive apps for platforms like iOS and Android can help to drive engagement, while providing further opportunity to collect insight for marketing and new product development.

Deliver – Can Your Organization Support your Goals?

The effectiveness of marketing and insight gathering can only be as effective as the organization involved. People are just as important as technology and tools, so it is important to not only hire the right talent, but to have talent in all of the necessary departments.

Building a marketing team to support all aspects of data collection can take time, however once that team is in place, the benefits will begin to flow. A robust insight gathering system will enable regular campaign building for systematic insight interpretation, brainstorming, and feasibility evaluation.

Most importantly, the team needs to understand the technology in use, and the technology needs to be capable of delivering consolidated analytics from multiple channels. Training from industry professionals is important when adopting new digital strategies, or when implementing new analytic data platforms.

Big data can help to reduce costs by streamlining the process of insight gathering, while also improving new product development. The best decisions are based on great data, and digitizing customer insights is the best way for modern fashion companies to gather and interpret the data that will help them to succeed.

 

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The Guide To Selecting The Best Omni-Channel Software

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When buying Omni-channel software, you’re presented with a number of factors to consider. In order to find the software that is right for you, it is important to understand that not all software is designed with the user in mind. In a way, it is similar to the barcode boom of the 1970s.

At the time, there were different presentations of barcodes on the market. Each was marketed at the retailer with a claim that it was the best choice possible. To cash in on the barcodes, companies began to manufacture registers designed for each barcode, in the hopes of speeding up the checkout process. But these early barcode machines didn't have any other benefit to the stores they were used in. It wasn’t until the UCC128 barcode (Target, Wal-Mart and others use this today), that the full power of the barcode was found.

Ecommerce software is very similar in the sense they do simple things for the customer, but don't handle all their needs.  Most of them fall short of what they can offer to you and your customers. Some might not have a way to review the full order history of a client. Another may prevent you from applying payments to invoices in an effective manner. Another might give you both of these but feature an ineffective layout. As technology advances, we need to make it a point to find one that does all of this and helps you to move products. Ideally, the software will contain options like:

  • Active media the customer can interact with (such as video)
  • Customer experience management
  • Endless digital aisles
  • Real time inventory status
  • Supply chain integration

Based on your company size, you may need additional features that can help you. It is important that you have a list of the essentials of any software and determine whether or not it will actually meet your needs.

One way is to evaluate the system with certain ideas in mind. To begin with, think about what requirements you have for the system. This includes the following:

  • Does it give all users the best direct experience possible?
  • Is there a section which allows for users to post their reviews?
  • Are forums provided in the software so customers can discuss and debate the products in greater detail?
  • Can partners come in and provide testimonials which help customers to make further informed buying decisions?
  • Will the system allow you and customers to further add media to the display, in order to help you further sell a product?

With this, it is also useful to sit down and take a look at how the software is already impacting the industry you are in. Begin to look for the direct experience other customers are having with it and ask if that experience is positive.

If you take the time to do this, there is a better chance you’ll find the right software for your company.

 

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