For fashion brands and retailers looking to thrive in a post-COVID-19 landscape, developing a strong omnichannel strategy is no longer an option but a must. Fashion brands need to begin embracing a digital mindset and be willing to interact with consumers on whatever platform they are on, outside of their own website and physical stores. As technology becomes ever more important for brands to create an authentic, seamless digital experience, the need for a secure product information management (PIM) solution is vital.
The rise of omnichannel was evident before the pandemic, but it is clear that the global virus hastened its adoption. More than two years after the outbreak of COVID-19 and data indicates that footfall in high streets and shopping malls has yet to recover fully. Data from Springboard found that footfall during the last week of March 2022 was 15.7% lower than the same week pre-pandemic, as consumers remain cautious about returning to physical stores and malls. On the other side, digital adoption increased dramatically during the last two years, with over 2.14 billion people shopping online in 2021, equal to 27.6% of the world’s total population, according to Oberlo. Research indicates that 27.9% of expected global e-commerce revenue came from fashion-related products in 2021, with one in four dollars spent on a fashion item. Post-pandemic, it is even more evident that brands and retailers who lack a strong digital mindset and presence struggle to survive. But where to start when it comes to developing an online presence?
Some may think that launching an e-commerce platform and selling products is sufficient. However, as competition between online fashion marketplaces becomes only more crowded, those looking to expand globally need to think about how to best target their audience, as many customers engage with a variety of touchpoints as they move along the path to purchase.
One of the best ways to start working towards developing a solid omnichannel strategy is by leveraging a product information management (PIM) solution. In the digital realm, consumers are not able to touch, smell or feel products and have to rely on product information to guide their purchasing decisions - whether that be on a brand’s own e-commerce site, a wholesale marketplace or social media channel. Outstanding visuals, compelling product stores,
and immersive technology that encourages product interaction and user-generated content, such as customer reviews and images, help brands connect with their consumers online and guide them in their purchase journey. A good PIM solution will help brands deliver cross-channel product shopping experiences, no matter their country, while aligning vision, voice, and information quickly and scalably.
The right PIM and digital shelf analytics solution will be able to integrate with brands' point of sale (POS) and e-commerce platforms and allow brands to leverage digital shelf analytics data. Brands will be able to use this data to optimise their strategy. A good PIM solution offers brands one source of data, thereby increasing the accuracy and quality of operational processes. The digitisation of operational processes through a PIM solution also lets brands effortlessly manage and update their SKUs and assortments to quickly react to any changing trends or consumer behaviours. At the same time, a PIM solution can also help boost margins and reduce returns. With almost half (49%) of consumers returning a product in 2021 because it did not match the product description, according to PowerReview, the need to correct product information is vital. By providing customers with more accurate, precise and detailed product information, customers can make better-informed purchasing decisions and are less likely to make returns. Returns can harm brands' bottom line while increasing their carbon emissions, another critical issue for consumers.
With more consumers showing interest in how and where products are made, sustainability is also key when creating an omnichannel strategy. A YouGov survey from 2021 found that more than half (52%) of UK consumers based their purchasing decisions on a brand’s eco-credentials. Another study from McKinsey in 2019 noted that consumers want to support brands that are doing good in the world, with 66% willing to pay a premium for sustainable products. However, when it comes to finding sustainable products, 77% of consumers said they had some difficulty understanding brands’ sustainability claims, and 69% said they do not always trust retailers and brands' sustainability practices, according to Drapers’ Sustainability and the Consumer 2021 report. One way brands can prove and support their sustainability claims is by being more transparent with their product information. Providing more details on how, where and under what conditions their products were made can increase consumer confidence in a brand's sustainable claims and practices. For example, the US brand Reformation has taken a more formalised approach to transparency in recent years to further support its sustainable marketing claims. Initiatives ranging from the RefScale, which tracks the brands' environmental footprint, to factory tours that show how their products are made and quarterly sustainability reports published online, all support their sustainability claims. With most of this information available from the product description page itself, it instils a deeper feeling of confidence in consumers when shopping.
At the end of the day, a good PIM solution offers you a single source of truth, allowing you to move your business and brand forward confidently. To learn more about the benefits of a PIM solution and what it can do to transform your brand, download the new ebook, “PIM for Fashion", from inriver today.