Do you remember a time before e-commerce? Begrudgingly flicking through the 1000 page Argos catalogue, folding down corners of pages with the products we liked, occasionally getting a paper cut. A heavy-weight lifted, literally, thanks to e-commerce and the birth of the .com era. But it hasn’t just gotten rid of the catalogue, it’s also shaped the way in which customers shop.
The most affected, naturally, is the fashion industry, with a current worldwide revenue of $481billion, looking to rise to $713billion by 2020. The fashion industry is just starting to catch up with the innovative minds within e-commerce. That’s not to say that ye olde ‘brick & mortar’ way of shopping should cease to exist, they’re more relevant than ever...
The real question is, how much is e-commerce changing the fashion industry and the relationship with consumerism? And what can we, a mere Leeds-based design agency, do to keep up with the change?
What is E-commerce?
It’s commerce but with the internet (e). Think Amazon, ASOS, EBay. Shopping without having to leave your house, ingenious. E-commerce has flourished over the past 2 decades and we’ve seen it ruin retail giants.
A Very, Very Brief ‘History’
It began with a business to business transaction in the 1980’s, then a few companies setting up online stores in the late 90’s, and then it snowballed. In a nutshell, sites introduced the ability to pay online and made it possible for customers to purchase, it got really big and now it’s worth billions. E-commerce has paved the way for many businesses.
With the development of new e-commerce technologies, small to medium fashion brands are falling over each other to keep afloat, this is due to the demands set by Generation Z and Millenials, a need for convenient, fast service.
Evolution of E-commerce technologies:
A niche market has developed with the rise of personalisation on many e-commerce sites thereby strengthening the customer-shopping experience online. Small businesses are becoming a popular niche by providing authentic, unique clothes.
Takeaway: Brands will have to focus heavily on strengths, brand story and quality of products.
Vogue has taken notice of new, up and coming designers with small businesses who are taking the initiative and creating fashion from sustainable materials. The demand for environmentally conscious fashion is only getting stronger and those who adhere will grow in strength alongside it. This is a trend that is going nowhere!
Takeaway: Brand purpose is becoming increasingly important with small brands like Frilly, a no waste, eco-friendly and ethically made fashion website paving the way for the future of fashion.
Sites like ASOS have targeted a niche of Millennial's who want to invest their money in brands who openly discuss social issues, ASOS are encouraging diversity through its brand image.
Takeaway: For fashion brands to target Millennials and Generation Z then they must use their platform to engage with their audience on a personal and social level.
Online Activity: A Social Act
Online shopping has become a social experience, social influencers are becoming a new means of trust. Instagram itself is taking control of their place in e-commerce, with their Shoppable Posts feature. Multichannel e-commerce enables buying anywhere, any time.
Takeaway: It was once limited to selected retailers who had the spotlight and the budget to stay ahead of competition. Limiting your brand to one channel is limiting your conversion, be it social, e-commerce or in-store, it’s the “anytime anywhere” factor which adds to a brands desirability.
Virtual reality apps
Consumers can try on clothes without needing to leave their home. It’s an evolution to look out for.
Takeaway: It’s a memorable experience for customers, it’s engaging and re-enacts the reality of walking into a changing room.
Brands that do well should have a fluid relationship with both their online and offline presence. Making the store experience as easy and convenient as their e-commerce site, which will improve customer loyalty.
What can we do?
E-commerce is unforgiving, most recently it was House of Fraser who failed to keep up with the fashion industry, but who’s next? Shops like Poundstretcher are showing evidence of the continuing struggles for high street retail and the power of online migration. These large British institutes are struggling to meet in-store footfall and are taking measures to claw back this traffic online. In order for smaller retailers to compete and exist in the digital era, claiming an online presence is paramount!
Pay attention to customers wants and needs, they inevitably shapes the market. As a digital design agency based in Leeds we have up 25 years experience of understanding consumer markets, we keep up with changing trends and more importantly we’re adapting ourselves and staying ahead of the curve.
If you’re struggling to migrate, or if you have any queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have the knowledge, power and skills to help secure your digital footpath.
Published by: Jordan in Uncategorised