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