- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
London - It is both unfathomable and daunting to think 90 percent of the world's information can currently be found online. The digital landscape has become so wide, so varied and so colossal that brands have to be ever more connected to their consumers, to communicate their values and stay relevant in a rising sea of content.
One question raised at the Decoded Fashion Summit is what happens when consumers develop greater intelligence than brands, where they know more about you, than the brand knows about the consumer? These are just some of the key challenges facing retailers today.
Consumers want relevance
Despite a superfluous amount of information and content available, consumer appetite for media and data is growing. But not just any data. Consumers want relevance, personalisation and their brands to speak to them in a non-invasive, personalised yet aspirational way. Retailers are spending millions of euros on consumer insight research, from apps offering incentives and luring customers to their stores to hiring outside firms to conduct surveys.
It was surprising to hear Topman, a global high street leader in menswear, only sees 10 percent of its sales generated from its online business. The bulk coming from its traditional brick and mortar stores from around the world. Interestingly, 3 out of 4 purchases in-store are influenced by what consumers see online, the content they read, the social media they follow. Omnichannel is no longer a sole focus, more important is providing a seamless journey for customers be it online or in-store in what is now 'the new age of the consumer.'
The relationship between digital and in-store must be seamless
The relationship, therefore, between digital and in-store is becoming increasingly important. A good example is H&M's brand & Other Stories, who use Instagram to post images of current trends and products, and continue the story on their websites, so user's can follow the imagery and then make relevant shopping choices. So often there is a disconnect on a brand's social media and the shopping experience found in the same brand's e-commerce site.
Consumer insight is key to the longevity and success of online retail, specifically understanding customer needs and desires to capture their attention that subsequently leads to a sale. There are plenty of tools available, such as digital algorithms, forecasting, cookies, surveys, analytics, but it is a shifting industry that makes understanding consumers and finding novel ways to retain them all the more important.
Brands are connecting directly to consumers
Brands are responding in a variety of ways. Zalando, for example, have recently acquired the license to Berlin's trade show Bread & Butter. Instead of the traditional model as an industry-only event where brands present collections to buyers, it will now be open directly to consumers, and will allow brands to communicate directly with customers, in real-time, and further the possibilities in a see-now-buy-now capacity.
This move feels relevant as consumers are perennially caught in an era of information overload. What is clear is that a trend reflecting the desire for simplicity has emerged. Retailers are keen to curate a personable and simpler experience both in their physical boutiques and online platforms to reflect this.
Decoded Fashion London Summit 2016 website