How to grow your fashion brand’s online trade following the crisis.
There are 2 key ways in which to grow your trade following COVID-19.
- Innovation: both product and service.
- Acting on data and demand.
Data changes daily and demand is driven by what restrictions are imposed to deal with Covid 19, therefore you need to become an adaptable brand reacting to this data. Being adaptable will enable success. By following my fashion consultant’s tips and advice you can protect your brand during the crisis.
Act on data/demand.
To survive this crisis, you need to be prepared to pivot on your original values. You need to make data-driven decisions and act on consumer demand. It is more important than ever to listen to your consumers and speak to their mindset; this is going to be a slow recovery back to the levels of 2019 online trade.
Pivot on your original ideas.
In 2020 fashion brands will miss a season due to COVID-19 hitting when it did. COVID-19 has also meant all major catwalk shows taking place in the second of the half-year have been cancelled. This forced shift in the buying calendar is leading many fashion brands to consider designing seasonless and even genderless collections. Creating collections to last a lifetime: less buy now, wear now. This imposed shift is making designers rethink the way they design clothes aligned to a new set of values for the new world in which we will find ourselves. You could develop this new brand value and lead this trend.
Other ways to look at the seasonless design and create items to last is to switch to using sustainable fabrics. You could change to using durable fibres and use this as a selling point to your consumer. An investment in one of your designs could last 10yrs minimum is one example of promoting the unique selling point of your product and how it meets sustainable values.
You may consider adapting your supply chain and speed to market, again as this is another forced change from COVID that be used to your advantage. Place reduced orders upfront; launch your ‘test’ range, and ensure you have a re-order supplier that can deliver in 25-40 days. This may still be China but now is your opportunity to resource your range and operations. Brands now have more power when placing smaller initial orders offering the initiative for a larger reorder if the product succeeds. Working this way will enable your brand to act on data and demand.
To summarise, to survive the next decade you need to either sell something no one else does, which is increasingly difficult or sell what you sell in a way no one else does. In essence, the unique selling process you create becomes as much of a product as the product itself.
Data suggests that there won’t be a vaccine till late 2020, therefore consumer habits will remain very much the same as they are now. For brands, this provides an opportunity to promote your product and service offering, focusing more on stay-cay, working from home, leisurewear and activewear as well as delivering them in a safe way to your customers. This trend of the consumer mindset wanting a safe, secure surrounding and to only shop brands they can trust isn’t going anywhere soon. You need to adapt to this now, amending your values and service to meet this new demand.
React to data. Make data-driven decisions.
Traditionally brands would plan their sales and operations weekly, this now needs to be daily. You need to restructure your team so that day to day you can be reacting to current data. The more reactive you are the more competitive you are, meaning the greater likelihood of gaining more customer acquisitions.
There are so many tools available for brands to use, one being Tiyo. You can invest in accessing data, or invest in learning more about your DTC [direct to consumer] customers. Making digital improvements will help you provide better customer service.
"To survive this crisis, you need to be prepared to pivot on your original values. You need to make data-driven decisions and act on consumer demand."
Create a strong brand culture.
Majority of DTC [direct to consumer] brands would tell you that creating a strong brand culture on your own channel doesn’t happen overnight; creating a strong brand culture takes a great deal of focused time so you need to start now.
The customer comes first in everything you do, you need to think and act like your customers to really tap into their mindset and win their trust. You need to build deeper relationships that go beyond transactions.
Following COVID, consumers are hungry for entertainment so you need to be inventive and entertain. Think outside the box, and by making them smile and capturing their minds you will start to win their trust and loyalty. Now is not the time to focus on a hard sale.
Digital methods you can use on your DTC channels to create a stronger brand culture are:
- Offer extended returns periods for customers; for example 90 days instead of 30 days. Giving them the luxury of time in this restricted life we currently live in.
- Offer safe delivery options, for example, door to door courier service. Ideally for free.
- Offer an up-cycle scheme and buyback old items for reselling or reuse within your brand. Consumers will not only appreciate the $ value but will also see the sustainable incentive adding to the brand value.
- Give consumers a reason to buy by offering free delivery and returns as standard. You don’t need to promote this, just do it.
Have you considered different approaches for different countries and cities shipping orders around the world? If not I advise that you do. By tailoring your logistic approach to suit each country’s requirements; this is personalisation. This will directly speak to the customer and show your kindness and secure their trust. Going above and beyond will in itself be a self-brand marketing act.
Enrich your product content, on all channels. By answering all the questions your customer may have about each product you sell, you are personalising your brand. Ensure that through your content you are speaking to them, and leaving nothing unanswered. The copy is more important than ever, together with strong imagery and ideally video footage of the product.
I would encourage brands to improve their photography now, show the customer how each item can be worn, ideally showing 2 styling options. This will give the item greater value by showing its versatility.
Focus on marketing your DTC channels; this could be through in-house social media strategy or through social media paid ads, but whatever you choose now is the time to run effective ROI digital marketing.
A tip – study brands which do social media well and instantly deploy their best practice. This can also be called unicorn social media. Find competitor posts with the highest engagement, comments or likes, and replicate the format for your own brand.
Focus on engagement, data is telling us that mobile shopping on apps has increased +20% YOY in Q1 2020, shoppers are more engaged than ever on their mobiles. This also coincides with video. Video engagement has increased dramatically, led by apps like TikTok, YouTube and Facebook. Fashion brands need to tap into these trends and speak to their audience using the most engaging methods.
Ideas to engage your audience on social media:
- Use video, video, video!
- Invite guest speakers to speak about a valued topic on your social media channels.
- Create videos addressed to your consumers, on a relatable topic. Brand speaking directly to its consumers.
- Create videos talking about the fabric you use or how you made your best seller.
- Even consider TikTok!
- Promote your best sellers, core styles. Promote quality not discount. Talk about customer reviews, state amazing stats, soft sell your collection.
- Use Video / Livestream to create hype around product launches. Find out who is doing this best, study it and put it into best practice for your brand.
I can’t stress enough how, now more than ever, you need to revert to data to make the right decision. These are not normal trading times, so you really need to be aware of really understanding your consumers’ mindset and speak to them. I am not suggesting a major overhaul of your existing business but small changes and some refocusing will go a long way and will get you noticed.
Growth will be a long steady game, so start now.
Carley Johnson Fashion Connections can help you by focusing on your growth strategy. Let us help and book a free consultation today.