Fashion consumers still want bricks and mortar stores

The news coming from the fashion industry is profoundly mixed. Putting coronavirus aside (as if that’s possible with every passing day), retailers, brands and platforms like Reiss, JD Sports, Zalando, Boohoo, etc are posting record results. Others, like French Connection and John Lewis are struggling, whilst some like Bonmarché have fallen into liquidation.

The common thread for successful brands is that, great designs aside, they are willing to move fast and adapt with changing consumer shopping habits to remain relevant – and ultimately – survive. Their mantra, “Move fast, fail fast, succeed quickly”.

Does this mean that bricks and mortar stores are outdated? No. As if to back this up, recent research from Salesforce suggests that whilst 87% of purchases start online, almost half still prefer to buy in a bricks and mortar store. We’ve dug a little deeper and asked ourselves why?

They want to try it on…

No amount of AI is going to let a customer physically touch and feel the clothes on the rack. Consumers like to try on their clothes to make sure everything fits and looks right. Customers want an experience. Just look at how high street favourite Zara installed interactive mirrors to deliver a theatrical environment.

They want to speak to someone…

Often shoppers turn to online due to time constraints and convenience. But their desire for outstanding customer service, communication with a human rather than a touch screen, and every so often a smile, suggests traditional selling methods continue to lure us. Here are the fashion brands doing this well (spoiler alert: John Lewis is #1).

They don’t want to wait for it…

Buy in-store and there is no waiting for a courier to deliver, and most importantly, no returns due to wrong size, wrong colour or because you ordered too many. It may be easier to shop online, but financially neither the retailer nor the consumer benefits during the returns process and fashion has the highest returns of any sector.

But they do want brands to keep up…

The rise of in-store technology blurs the lines of e-commerce and bricks and mortar purchasing. Retailers now can engage further with their customers through image recognition, in-store pick up points, and digital price tags as these all enhance the experience and create that ultimate ‘shopping destination’. Who is doing it well? Farfetch for one.

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