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COVID Shopping: The Six Month Debrief

September 23, 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters

As much as we hate to dwell on the past… unfortunately we have to in order to keep the fashion and creative industries in the best form possible. If nothing else, the last six months have taught us the do’s and don’ts of shopping, buying and product planning within the storm of a pandemic, what works and what hardly resonates. With the next six months providing a possible bigger amount of uncertainty in some countries, being able to face the unknown equipped with as much knowledge, data and potential strategy alternatives as possible will put small and independent brands in fighting shape. We look at some of the top takeaways from the 2020 market and what that could mean for brands and consumers going forward.

What has significantly changed?

Even though it cannot be a solo option long-term, digital shopping remains to be where it’s at. In what is cited as the ‘worst quarter ever’ for fashion sales, those conducted online have been at their best. With platforms that host multiple smaller brands looking at a 6o% surge in traffic, we are far past the point of being able to discount an online presence. Though the return for brick-and-mortar stores remains to be far from rosy, many of the statistics gathered for COVID shopping across the board have been concerning large, often luxury businesses. Many of the problems they face are already advantages to add to the small and independent brand’s bow, such as the flexibility to create space, offer more personal experiences and implement a high level of hygiene and sanitisation needs. This leads into the importance of treating every customer coming through the door as a V.I.P – those consumers that are starting to return are far more likely to buy something, and being able to cater to this with private viewings after hours and more time spent with a limited number in-store is smart in the short and long-term.

Could small brands be in the best place?

The common argument is that the pandemic has merely accelerated many changes that were already gradually underway, from which comes a need to re-write the fashion rule book. There is growing pressure for brands to establish some kind of ‘reuse and recycle’ strategy into their brand ethos, with many opting for a sideline of reselling used products or introducing clothing rental services, allowing those consumers that are feeling the penny pinch to essentially borrow what they might not want to fully commit to. Along with this is a need to curb overproduction, with ‘surprise packages’ for a set amount proving popular to combat loss of stock and warehouse efficiency. The final piece of the puzzle lies in being able to keep to the demand for fast home delivery. Inner city brands have chosen to incorporate a kind of ‘drive-thru’ for fashion, with customers able to select a timeslot to pick up their purchases from the safety of their car. These pickup sales have jumped by 700% in markets particularly hit by the pandemic.

With greater emphasis now being re-placed on staying at home, the question now turns to whether fashion itself will continue to be locally sourced. Small and independent brands don’t have to worry so much about how to handle the havoc of mass global development within their supply chains, with disruption being considered likely for a while to come. It seems as if it’s the small brands left holding all the cards ready to deal in the eye of the storm, and are in the best position to adapt, pivot and grow.

Photo source: Gettyimages


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