The digital age has transformed many industries as new technologies and the use of online platforms have rapidly increased. The retail industry is no exception and some of our favourite high street brands are closing their doors to the public, as mobile and e-commerce websites take over sales. It has become apparent that customers would much rather sit in their pyjamas on their sofa to do their shopping — and this applies to all sectors in the industry, from groceries and white goods to fashion. Fashion, in particular, has a significant presence in the digital world, accounting for almost one third of all online purchases in the UK — but what does this mean for our high street stores? Retailers of premium velvet jeans, Trilogy Stores, explore the issue further.
The current performance of the industry
One of the latest obstacles for high street retailers is the rise of online fashion stores. In the last twelve months, approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online — with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017. Consumer buying patterns have shifted a great deal. Consumers are choosing to shop in their spare time, usually on an evening or during the night, making it difficult for retail high street stores to compete with their limited shopping hours.
To mimic physical shopping experiences and encourage customers to make purchases online, digital retailers have introduced: sizing guides, free returns and competitive prices. The need to physically try before you buy is fading away. This is influencing the success of high street stores — driving some of them into the ground.
There are many financial advantages for companies to set up online businesses, with lower running costs being a main attraction.
If any retail stores do not have an online presence, it is likely that they won’t survive much longer. That’s right, the future is digital for the retail industry. With many big brands already marking their territory online, smaller brands need to consider digital if they are to stay in the game. High street retail, made with bricks and mortar will be no more. The technology revolution is here and it’s time to make the transition.
Some of the biggest retailers in the industry have shown that there is no requirement for a physical store to be successful. Many of which have found success solely on online platforms, using e-commerce websites and social media apps to drive business — with big high street names following in their footsteps and favouring digital platforms over high street stores.
The impacts of social media
As interaction with social media increases, it’s clear to see the impacts that it has had on the industry. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have become essential marketing tools for fashion retailers. Evolving from catwalk shows and big shop window displays, retailers now capitalise via their social media profiles.
Retailers are using social media to build a strong online presence and engage with their customers. They also rely on other social media users to promote their brands and products. The fashion industry is extremely competitive, and social media apps have provided a platform to help brands stand out from their competitors. For example, Instagram has over 700 million active monthly users, with over 40 billion photos shared. With this in mind, the app has become a platform whereby celebrities, public figures and social influencers are used to endorse a brand’s product, guaranteeing a certain level of exposure and success depending on how many followers they have.
One example of this is model, Kendall Jenner, who has an outstanding 81.6 million followers on social media platform, Instagram. Therefore, many companies fight for her endorsement. If she posts one photo of their product or of her wearing an item, it reaches all those followers almost instantly. Similarly, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is the face of denim designer, PAIGE jeans, and with over 7.6 million followers the brand gets high levels of exposure. Fashion brands know that the success of a campaign can be influenced by the level of followers the endorser has. Using a celebrity endorsement encourages a certain level of user engagement.
New ways for customer service
When it comes to retaining customers, and answering their queries and complaints, social media is still useful. Interactions across social media app, Twitter, has increased by 250% in the last two years. Customers are looking for a service which reduces their effort and is quick and convenient. Is social media the answer?
Phone and voice communication was voted as the most frustrating customer service channel by 32% of respondents. Customers want a quick response rate, without the need to wait in line or on hold. Social media provides a platform for customer communication, and with the opportunity to offer quicker responses, this could equal higher willingness for customer spend.
Going digital can be a big decision for many companies, but the advantages have been proven. If you are not ready to take a huge digital plunge and set up shop online, why not experiment with social media and build your brand presence that way?