Key Benefits of Enabling an Omnichannel Experience in the Fashion Industry

Did you know that the global fashion industry is estimated to be a $2.4 trillion market and would turn out to be the world’s seventh largest economy if compared with the GDP of individual countries? This is what a McKinsey report revealed?

While the advent of e-commerce has presented a huge challenge for traditional fashion retailers, many have been quick to adapt to the rapidly evolving fashion industry. In my opinion, omnichannel retailing is fast emerging as a good strategy for retailers, given that today’s consumer has high expectations and is looking for convenience above all.

An overwhelming majority of 73% customers prefer the omnichannel shopping experience, instead of sticking to just online or store-only shopping, as revealed in a study of 46,000 customers, conducted between June 2015 and August 2016.

Benefits of Omnichannel Fashion Retailing

  • Takes Care of Seasonal Inventory — I believe that many products in the fashion business have a limited shelf life, i.e., are seasonal in nature. As a result, the primary focus of someone with a store-only presence will be to clear out such inventory, in many cases discounting these as well, to make way for the new. Without an integrated solution, this issue cannot be resolved by such retailers.
  • The Issue of Size — Despite the presence of detailed size charts available online and the promise of easy returns, a lot of customers are still reluctant to order a product online, especially if it is a high-value purchase, since they aren’t convinced on the size issue. For these customers, the option to visit a physical store must always remain open. Sizes can differ across different brands, where one brand might label XL on an item that fits a 44 inch chest, while another brand might label XL for a 42 inch chest, which is why you really have to try an item on to understand the brand, says Jude Connally, a successful fashion designer and entrepreneur with an omnichannel presence.
  • Addresses the Problem of SKUs — Any given type of apparel is often available in a wide variety of sizes, colors and styles, thereby creating a problem of storage. The fact that retail rental space is quite expensive, in comparison to warehouses, makes it all the more important to use the online selling route together with the physical retail store to manage such complexities around multiple stocks.
  • Improved Customer Experience — In my opinion, omnichannel retailing ends up leaving the choice in the hands of the customer to decide which channel to choose, giving them more freedom and therefore a better shopping experience. At the same time, the brand must ensure that the shopping experience is consistent across all channels.
  • Enables Cross-Border Shopping — A fashion retailer doing business through only a physical store tends to miss out on the many overseas customers who are increasingly shopping online and are not reluctant to pay the shipping expenses to get the preferred item delivered to their doorstep.
  • Better Data Collection — It is important to dive deep into the customer’s buying patterns and this can best be achieved through an omnichannel experience rather than confining the customer to either a brick and mortar store or e-commerce. I feel that this can be done when invaluable customer insights are gathered on buyer behavior across multiple touchpoints that can help a fashion retailer make smart and profitable business decisions in the future.

While an online store can give you the advantage of scale, a physical store can give you the benefit of revenue generated through casual footfalls. For the fashion industry to sustain this momentum of growth, it will be important to invest in an omnichannel experience that leaves the choice in the hands of the shopper as to how they want to interact with their brand, whether through the digital or physical world.