BACK TO BUSINESS: FASHION RETAILERS FOCUS ON SHOP BY APPOINTMENT, ENGAGING CONSUMERS ONLINE

Business Of Fashion|June 2020

BACK TO BUSINESS: FASHION RETAILERS FOCUS ON SHOP BY APPOINTMENT, ENGAGING CONSUMERS ONLINE
As the lockdown is being lifted in a phased manner across all the marketplaces in the country, fashion brands are coming out of their funk. IMAGES Business of Fashion focuses on how brands and fashion businesses are adapting to the changing needs amid the ‘new normal’ and are working to ‘co-exist’ with COVID-19...

When cities went under lockdowns, it was the non-essential items businesses which were forced to temporarily shutter shop, the worst hit by the pandemic. The supply chain too suffered with the closure of retail units. One of the worst-hit sectors during the lockdown was fashion retail. Clothes became non-essential items in a world where everyone was working from home and meeting friends and family virtually in a bid to comply with the social distancing norms associated with keeping COVID-19 at bay.

Now as the lockdown is being lifted in a phased manner across all the marketplaces in the country, fashion brands are coming out of their funk, focusing on adapting to changing needs amid the ‘new normal’ and working to ‘co-exist’ with the virus.

This lockdown has taught fashion retailers a valuable lesson – to adopt a more customer-focused approach and improved community engagement. Now, as marketplaces – particularly malls – are reopening in Unlock 1.0, retailers are gearing up to giving an ‘experience’ to the consumer on all channels possible.

Many retailers plan to phase their openings, with stores which are easily accessible to open fi rst. For example, Tanishq has resumed operations across 65 out of 328 stores across the country and over the next few weeks, it plans to open the rest of the stores in a phased manner. Celio* announced the re-opening of a few key stores as well as resumption of operations on the website. Speaking about the same, Abhishek Shetty, Chief Marketing Officer and E-Commerce Head, Celio* India said, “The COVID-19 outbreak has found all of us rearranging our lives and work like never before. Things of convenience aren’t so anymore. However, steps taken by the government are crucial to our well-being, and surely if we follow the precautionary instructions provided to us, we’ll soon enough beat this pandemic, and rise stronger as a nation. At Celio*, ensuring our customer’s safety is of utmost priority and we are taking all the precautionary measures to make the customer’s shopping experience pleasant and safe.”

The pandemic has altered consumer psyche permanently and considerably weakened spending power. Due to these factors, fashion brands like Aks Clothing witnessed negatively affected demand and supply. However, Nidhi Yadav, Co-Founder, Aks Clothing, said that the brand is “expecting a surge in demand now as the lockdown has been lifted and will most probably reach pre- COVID-19 figures in two to three weeks’ time.” She said they are optimistic that the situation will improve in a few months as people get used to living with the virus.

Most brand and retail heads feel that going forward, it will be important to develop new and dynamic capabilities to cope with rapidly-evolving consumer sentiments and government stipulations on how businesses must be run.

While, accepting the unfavorable conditions, she added, “It is true that we’re all going to drop down a notch in our need hierarchy and that means that consumers will be cutting down on their expenditure as per their income. Since we’re into value segment, our demand wouldn’t be affected much. Consumers who will drop from our customer base will be replaced by consumers who will be dropping down from even higher positions in the consumer hierarchy.”

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June 2020