Digitization of the fashion industry in critical situations like a worldwide pandemic. That was been contributory to several national-level health crises and an economic stupor. With most known fashion weeks opting for online modes and organizations who are more technically adept are definitely at a far better place in comparison to those who are not.

This year countless well-known multimillion-dollar brands have determined to shut down and minimize the number of showrooms they had. Having the hindsight outlook of the prospect, showrooms nowadays do not stand a chance over their rivals, online showrooms. Fashion retailer Zara will shut down up to 1,200 stores mostly in Asia and Europe. The Spanish fashion Behemoth reported its first loss since it went public in 2001.

On the other hand, we have online sales jumping to a 95% only in April alone in the year 2020. Many big retailers like H & M and Jack & Jones have also been offering mid-season sales at significantly discounted prices. 

But they are also perceived as threats as they act as a catalyst for the loss of job security of millions who earn their livelihood from this industry, loss of creativity, and in all totality loss of the “human touch” in the fashion designing and garment making the realm of fashion. So let us dive in and find out whether fashion and digitization can ever blend in well or not.

The Significantly Growing Digital Barrier

According to a consumer sentiment survey done in April of 2020, by an article written by McKinsey, intent of offline purchasing amongst the consumers are on the decline by 70% to 80% but 30% to 40% purchasing happening through online showrooms, even in countries and cities where lockdowns with due respect to a pandemic in mind were not sanctioned.

In a fashion hub country like China, customers returned to their normal purchasing rates through offline showrooms gradually. According to another survey, 745 of the consumers in China stated that they were deliberately avoiding malls and offline showrooms even after two weeks of reopening them. Digital is also instrumental in improving the whole fashion construct by making each step cheaper and less time-consuming. 

Even before the pandemic had started which created havoc in the world of fashion and questioned the conventional norms and procedures of the industry constantly, companies and brands who were technologically and analytically more matured and adept had undoubtingly outperformed their counterparts who were not equipped with robustly built technological and analytical tools.

All these factors considered, the pandemic has only acted as a catalyst for widening the Digital- offline barrier for brands and leaders and this is to continue further in the coming days.

Reputational Risks Factors on The Rise

Brand reputations in the realm of digital fashion are prone to higher risk factors. And ironically, it is one such significant element of the brand which has a monopoly over its sales and profits. It takes a lot of hard work and long years to build a charming reputation for your brand, but now in the age of social media, it will take a nanosecond for the lights to be blown out! We are trapped in a cycle of constant striving for something better, which in parallel is also inducing an increase in complexities and volatility.

With broader geographical areas exposed to brands, which in turn refers to the large masses where each individual will have a say about the product quality is helping in the brand reputation prone to more risks. With the increase in the consumer level, brands should also incorporate strategic planning to balance growth and improvement aspirations. 

Authentic Engagement with Customers 

With the rise in social media usage by people all over the world, they have also attracted a lot of brands and played as a platform where they can unfold all their strategic policies of marketing to strive for a higher reach and hence profits. And hence these platforms have truly helped in railing consumerism in the drops of blood of people. With brands exhibiting genuine, purpose-driven communications and have also effectively incorporated the aspects of health, safety, and most importantly community building.

Maintain unhindered communications with the most loyal customers have been more than easier nowadays. With also the appearance of influencers, social media marketing is reaching newer heights every day. Influencing a large number of masses at just one go has attracted consumers and fed the hunger of brands for reaching an enormous consumer reach. 

One of the leading Chinese E-commerce platforms to compensate for the lack-prone engagement scenario of the fashion industry has launched brand-powered apps on its platform interference. Which led to a doubling of transaction volumes for millions of mini programs during the peak of China’s outbreak of Covid-19. (January 2020 to February 2020).

With the concept of Digital Clienteling, the fashion industry is expected to hit milestones in the next few years. It is a concept that includes leading-edge technologies, analytics, and processes that are highly developed and hence can be used for delivering a customized customer experience at multiple channels at one go which will be resultant to in improved conversion and revenue rates.

Health and Safety

With the current scenario in mind, for a long period, people will prefer to opt for online modes instead of one-to-one contacts which a large scale of people. And also with the pandemic in mind, there is a shift in the hierarchy of priorities in everybody’s lives. Brands are concerned with the health of their employees and customers as well. To avoid any kind of mishap, digitization seems the only and absolute medium left for brands to continue with their businesses. 

The key for digitization of the fashion industry lies in how successful brands can maintain the equilibrium between triggering fast results with innovative ideas and also building a solid ground for technological development to happen to keep in mind the exposure to more risk factors to their brand reputation, bridging the technological barrier and also efficiently managing the value chain.