Fashion’s E-commerce in 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
It would be a surprise to very few that online commerce has sensationally boomed. Since the start of the pandemic, consumers have had very few other places to turn, while being spoilt for choice by the endless amounts of accessible products. With customers maintaining sky-high expectations and little leigh way for exceptions, keeping them on board and happy remains a top priority as the conversation around digital strategy continues to change. What will brands be expected to supply online in 2021?
What trends should brands look out for?
Since brands have had to quickly adapt to pandemic life and function almost completely as a digital entity, we’ve seen strategies such as guaranteed same-day delivery and live chat functions being deployed as standard. Some industry experts argue that even this isn’t making the cut anymore. Some brands ventured into more personalised territory, providing a version of human interaction through style advice and services on social channels such as WhatsApp. According to The Business of Fashion, experts predict that it is this level of personal digital commitment that needs to be carried through the new year, whilst also becoming seamless. The reliance on technology itself is not set to stop, with the once fringe tech of virtual fitting set to become a fashion business staple. Companies such as Zozo have worked with a fitting suit, worn to determine custom sizes using over 300 dots to measure proportions of the body. We know that the returns end of the delivery process can be overwhelmed and has suffered under increased pressure from COVID-19 fallout, and virtual fitting could be an answer to ease the pain. With the increase in data usage and technology cost rivalling that of returns and unsold stock, we could be looking to see body scanning becoming the norm over the next few years.
Does physical retail still play a role?
The key to getting pandemic retail right arguably lies in the effectiveness of a brand’s delivery services. Where the immediate access of the physical store has been lost, e-commerce has had to compensate by being able to offer faster delivery times. Some have achieved this by partnering a third-party or using retail space as mini distribution centres. It could be likely that we see a fashion version of UberEats or Deliveroo, with some questioning why brands haven’t been able to access this level of speed and ease while other retail sectors have stormed ahead. Whether brands choose to delegate last-mile delivery responsibilities or go it alone could have an impact on how effectively a quick service could be achieved. Having said that, product collections might not need to be physical at all. Experts predict that the gaming industry will hold the key to a new portal of exploration for fashion, with bigger name brands releasing collections in this format, or offering their name and designs to digital ‘skins’.
Regardless of whether that is right for your brand, the online world looks to be getting the TLC overhaul the physical shopping experience has been the target of. The digital face of consumption could be set to appear in a whole new light, moving away from the traditional shopping website format and packaged as a new experience to reflect a brand’s products and ethos. The environment for this remains to be seen, with early speculation that there is potential to mirror a physical space. That being said, consistency, flexibility and rejuvenation remain key properties for whatever methods brands decide to move forward with, strengthening consumer ties and appreciating the need to reliable, fresh experiences.