In a post-pandemic world, retailers need to embrace the fact that having a flexible, agile and future-proof commerce solution is critical to success.

Consumer expectations are now higher than ever before, and fashion retailers need to remain at the forefront of new trends and technologies. It's no surprise that this front is increasingly being fought digitally.

Discussing how the pandemic has affected retail both online and in-store, The Experience Makers brings together the technical, strategic and experiential skills of Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s Senior Consultant, Chioma Anokuru, Attraqt’s Head of Strategic Business, Imran Choudhary and UK Commercial Director for commercetools, James Dye to fully understand what today's fashion consumers expect from retailers and brands.

Touching upon findings from the recent ‘Future of Fashion’ report, our guests consider how businesses can ensure that they’re providing consumers with what they really want.

While we thoroughly recommend that you download the episode and listen in, here are some snippets from the discussion to whet your appetite…

The global fashion industry has had to adapt

One of the key outcomes of the pandemic and its lockdowns was the rise in the importance of and demand for an online shopping experience. According to the Future of Fashion report, 63% of fashion shoppers say that they are now more likely to buy fashion online due to Covid-19. However, the importance of omnichannel is key as physical stores will still play a big role and the non-linear path to purchase is being played out across various channels.

Service is a deal breaker

Service is a key differentiator, whether on or offline. Companies need to think about how they can differentiate customer service online - going beyond delivery, fulfillment and availability.

Sustainability

Consumers have confirmed that sustainability really matters to them - brands and retailers must acknowledge the environmental responsibilities that lie on their shoulders. A balance needs to be struck between profitability, sustainable manufacturing and delivery.

Taking stock

Although the restrictions are continuing to ease, and customers are returning to stores, challenges for retailers are not over yet and it’s unlikely that the footfall for physical stores will ever return to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Having a clear view of stock levels is something that many retailers already struggle with. But without a clear representation of availability the switch to a more hybrid offering will be tricky. The large pools of old stock left in warehouses has become a worry for many.

The right skillset

The gap between the pureplay retailers and more traditional businesses is expanding. Many traditional brands and retailers simply don’t have the right skills in the business to compete. Having the right people with the correct experience is key and those companies that are unable to identify holes in their skillset are going to suffer.

Siloed teams won’t work

While everyone is working towards the same goal, siloed teams are still one of the biggest barriers to outstanding customer experience. Retailers and brands need to ensure that their staff are fully engaged to make the most of new technologies, but if teams aren’t connected businesses will not feel the benefit of a technology investment. A combination of inputs from different teams working together provides a much more joined up approach from an operational and business perspective.

The role for technology in-store

There is definitely a wider role for technology in-store but employees on the shop floor need to be part of the discussion. They can bring firsthand experience to the conversation as they see how customers interact instore. However, getting their buy in and building their ability to work with the technology is paramount.

Fundamentally it’s about understanding the role of the store vs the role of your digital channels, which is what many retailers are missing. Different demographics shop instore/online for different reasons and those companies that optimise their in-store/digital space based on this will have the overall advantage.

Chioma Anokuru

Senior Consultant, Wunderman Thompson Commerce

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