May 25 WAKE UP, RETAIL! It’s Not Just “The Amazon Effect”

retail industry problems, dying fashion retail industryWhile Amazon’s stock is up an astonishing 42% in just the last three months, and REVOLVE is on its way to reaching 1 Billion in profits– we read reports of recent plummets in the stock market for retail giants like Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and JCPenney. It’s not just a few brick and mortar chains suffering. Overall the current environment for retail whether you are a big chain or an individual store is pretty gloomy. Which is scary because these giant retailers keep a lot of smaller brands in the market. If the big guys go…the medium and small guys go with them.

The question is, what can we do to save our retail stores?

Let’s take a look at three major trends that are starting to shake up the way we view retail.

TECHNOLOGY AND THE RETAIL EXPERIENCE

Our world has indefinitely changed. From wearable technology, to how we shop. Currently, brick and mortar stores who haven’t already respond to the current technological trends are claiming bankruptcy. This isn’t even about the future anymore. The digital era of fashion started booming around the mid-late 90’s. We are approaching almost two decades of fashion e-commerce, and things are barely starting to heat up.

Brands like Nike and Adidas who have successfully integrated their digital strategy with their brick and mortar stores are not reporting any sign of decline.

With innovations in location-based marketing, multi-channel customer service, virtual reality marketing, and game-changing forces like Facebook’s Instant Articles– retail is totally different, now. We are in an age far beyond having a good website. This about agility and adaptation. Only those who quickly adapt their business models will survive.

THE RISE OF ETHICAL FASHION

Brands (or the brands you carry) have to mean something. Ethical manufacturing and work standards, a companies carbon footprint, chemically toxic garments, and fair trade practices have become a major concern for educated shoppers. Shoppers are much smarter now, they no longer can be sold a $50 shirt that is manufactured for $5 in a factory in china. They would much rather go to Forever 21 or H&M and buy it for under $20. It might be too late for the big 90’s brands who over-expanded and bloated their operations on this business model…but those who can still manage to strengthen their branding and adapt to a new long-term strategy have a shot at making it through to the new era of selling fashion.

Fast fashion and overconsumption are becoming highly unfashionable. It’s far more chic to invest in well-made, well-designed clothing made ethically. Pieces you can cherish, that bring pleasure, and support local economies, emerging designers, and craftspeople, and tell the stories of every hand that went into the making. I think the era of the mega-brand is coming to an end.” – Sass Brown (Author; Publisher, Eco-Fashion Talk; Acting Associated Dean, Fashion Institute of Technology. Source.)

While that is just one person’s opinion, the valuable thing to take away is that consumers are becoming much savvier, and are demanding higher standards. Meanwhile, designers are finding new ways to maintain the upper hand on fast fashion ripoffs that continue to diminish their branding power and, in turn, cause big fashion retailers to suffer. Some ground rules are starting to be brought back to the fashion industry, and I think we are all ready for it.

DON’T FORGET, YOU’RE IN FASHION

Now that the branding possibilities are endless with new advancements in technology, manufacturing,  video/photography, and social networking- the one thing that cannot be forgotten is that brands need to come up with compelling fashion design AND genuine marketing tactics.

Offer something unique that can’t be duplicated- a community. A tribe. Fashion is about creating the threads that hold our lifestyles together. For many, fashion represents who they are.

Social media has brought about the most powerful marketing tool we have ever seen, and it’s free. User-generated content. The tricky part being? People actually have to like you and feel compelled to share it with their friends. The beauty of it? Die hard brand loyalty, that literally can’t be bought.

This a new time in fashion. It isn’t just about Amazon. It is about brands needing to wake up and realize that the entire environment of our society has changed, and is continuing to change at a very rapid pace.

For those who can actually deliver quality goods, creative branding experiences, next level customer service, and GOOD FASHION- the future of the industry is really quite exciting.

Our next question is…

Is your brick and mortar operation responding to the current environment of the fashion industry?

Written by:

Revecka Jallad

Co-Founder / Managing Partner

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