COVID-19 has taken a harsh toll on many fashion brands and retailers. Since lockdowns and stay-at-home measures were implemented last March 2020, fashion businesses of all sizes have struggled to sustain their operations due to temporary store closures. On top of that, many consumers are also losing their jobs, which resulted in a revenue decline.
Pre-pandemic, the United States’ fashion and beauty industry generated approximately $600 billion in annual revenue. Now, those numbers have taken a hit as businesses struggle to stay afloat. Major businesses like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus Group, Brooks Brothers and more filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Fortunately, not all hope is lost. As the economy starts reopening amidst the pandemic, fashion brands must re-think their marketing strategies. How can you stand out in a crowded online retail market and resonate with COVID-19 consumers?
Apart from offering quality luxury clothing, the best shoes or lovelydenim apparel for womenand men, focus on online marketing. Historically, brands relied on in-person interactions, mailbox coupons and poster advertisements to drive sales. Now, consumers may be tightening their belts, but they are still open to purchasing “I Deserve This” items and stay-at-home essentials. And the first place they go to is the Internet.
Instead of waiting for in-person stores to resume 100 percent operations, it’s time to go online and go mobile.
When you sell Chinese street fashion items, “plain Jane socks,” or any other stylish goods, consider the following strategies:
Prioritize Empathy More Than In-Store Sales
Before the pandemic, fashion retailers navigated the rise of e-commerce by using mobile marketing to increase traffic in their actual stores. However, in-person shopping stopped when stores closed in March 2020.
During the early days of COVID-19, brands shifted their attention to the communication of empathy. This includes relaying store closures and reopening forecasts, as well as safety and employee support plans. For instance, Macy’s moved their messaging away from sales towards charitable actors and store updates.
Simply put, empathy should be at the core of your messaging. COVID-19 is ongoing, and customers are still concerned about safety protocols and corporate responsibility. If they see that you do your part, they are more likely to trust you and buy from you.
Alter Your Store’s Messaging
Before the pandemic, store messaging was relatively neutral and environment-agnostic, focusing on simple personalization (first name, last name and birthday). Ads were also phrased with genetic shop CTAs or phrases like “Clothing you’ll love!” Shops will only contextualize messages to specific situations, like burgeoning social trends, work situations and personal holidays.
During stay-at-home orders, fashion businesses have altered their messages to match the current situation. They dove into specific messaging to promote clothing items that match casual work settings and a more sedentary customer lifestyle. Many brands are also focusing on the boom in workout-from-home classes to launch fitness-brand partnership campaigns or COVID-19 fitness apparel.
Promote Lesser-Known Services and Products
COVID-19 significantly changed how customers spend their money, with the recession focusing many to be more mindful with their budgets. For some retailers, like pharmacies and grocers, product necessity was never questioned. On the other hand, fashion retailers face a different story since not everyone considers fashion clothing as a necessity.
To boost your sales, transform lesser-known items like electronics, fitness accessories and home dÃ©cor into items that are more aligned with the needs and wants of customers. Home essentials rose in demand during COVID-19 since more customers are spending their time redecorating and cooking for themselves.
Many aspects of the pandemic’s stay-at-home lifestyle will be part of the new normal. Some customers will prefer working from home or working out from home. Even after the pandemic, they are most likely to purchase fashion items that meet these unique needs. So it’s up to you to understand the new needs of your customers, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.
But beyond pivoting to lesser-known products and services, gather data about lost online sales. Learn the barriers that lead to abandoned carts and lost visits from certain pages. This way, you provide customers with their current needs and ensure the best shopping experience every single time.
Focus on Agility
If there’s one thing to be learned from the changing status of restrictions and shutdowns, brands must focus on agility. Remember: the status quo can change in a snap. For many fashion businesses, relying on a single channel compromises their sales.
With the likelihood that restrictions will persist, fashion brands must have the operational agility to pivot changes at a moment’s notice. You should also be able to support new COVID-19 purchase measures, such as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). Consider automating your workflow, too. Automated management shipping ensures orders flow out of the shop in a timely and accurate manner.
Empathy, changing your message, shifts in promotion, focus on agility – these are core strategies that keep fashion businesses afloat during these trying times. The good thing is their values are timeless and you can benefit from them during the pandemic or even after.
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