Digital Is Essential
‘Retail Forward’

 by Ella Nwagbo

17/04/2020

Amid the turmoil that the world is experiencing today, companies are beginning to reconsider strategic measures to make their businesses future-proof. One thing is certain, the need for digital solutions is starting to see a spike, especially with the way brands interact with consumers. Digital has now created exciting possibilities for retailers. Some of these include; increased business flexibility, cross-channel mergers, better use of resources and more creative ways to align products and services with the consumers’ needs.

Brands are now facing a serious challenge, as most of their offline networks are closed. Nonetheless, moments of crisis present opportunities: more advanced and innovative use of technology and increasingly creative ways of surviving. As a result, the digital world has become a natural medium for brands to maintain their relationship with their customers and even connect with new consumers.

Even in the challenging times that the fashion industry finds itself in, the interest in fashion continues to grow steadily. According to Vogue Business “Interest in fashion hasn’t disappeared: platforms that let people engage with clothes digitally are on the rise.” Because of this constant interest, fashion brands are seeking new and efficient platforms that can allow them to integrate and share their collections with their community and help them connect to purchase sites.

Holli Rogers, Chief Brand Officer of Farfetch recently stated “Undeniably [fashion month] will be virtual — this will come in many guises.…As many brands have already cancelled their June shows and showrooms, this virtual experience will most definitely play a significant role in both the presentation side as well as how we operate as buyers. I expect we will witness some quick turnarounds in technology and innovation as the industry bands together with this opportunity to reinvent.”

In discussing these areas of opportunity to reinvent, we identify the digital or virtual showroom that warrants attention in the absence of fashion shows. This provides an innovative retail solution, allowing brands to quickly communicate their new collections through a dedicated online space to retailers, influencers, the media, and to their community without any restrictions. Furthermore, it is conceivable that the digital showroom will be perceived by some retailers as enablers – tools to effectively compete in the marketplace.

Karim Coppola, founder of VISORE LAB “We use digital as the power to connect brands to their clients, to discover new retailers and to create visibility to an extended fashion community. Our digital showroom itself offers brands new solutions to overcome obstacles and to be innovative, add value and make the process of retailing and communication more effective.” 

Christopher Peters, designer of CDLM also reported that “It’s probably a good time for independent designers who can continue to make work through this period and get their work online. There’s greater potential visibility with fewer designers to contend with, as well as an audience that’s living virtually.”

Fashion’s newfound digital dependency has hit the reset button on how retail works. Now is the moment for brands to fast track their transition to the digital world. That being said, for brands to maintain and even gain new shares in the market, they need to embrace digital infrastructures and adapt to the digital shift in consumer habits.