It is somewhat ironic that in the early days of the internet fashion was regarded as one of the categories that were not expected to make the move online. Apparently shoppers were too wedded to the idea of touching, feeling, and trying on goods. Or so the theory went.
Try telling that to the clothing and accessories industry today. The established high street players are finding it increasingly difficult dealing with the continued rise in the percentage of sales shifting online while in-store sales are on the slippery slope of decline.
Meanwhile the internet has enabled the creation of online powerhouses Asos, Boohoo.com, Yoox Net-a-Porter, and Zalando. These young businesses are running rings around the incumbents as a result of continued investment in their digital infrastructures. In contrast, the established players’ are reluctant to step back from their whole-hearted commitment to their stores.
As solid as this argument sounds there is something else at play that is equally pertinent to why the newcomers are winning the battle for market share in fashion: product. Yes, the real point of difference for the online-only players is not so much their channel to market but their differentiated products and range of goods. When this is combined with their unique content and ‘curated’ ranging then it is a powerful formula that is attracting increasing numbers of shoppers and with growing frequency.
Consider that as much as two-thirds of the product mix sold by Asos is exclusive to the business and this figure has continued to grow as the company long ago recognised that if it sold products available elsewhere then many shoppers would simply buy these goods elsewhere.
This need to have unique exclusive goods is being played out across the whole of the retail industry. Paula Nickolds, the new managing director of John Lewis, recently stated that she wanted more than half of the products sold in its stores to be exclusive to the company.
Its own-label home-wares business alone is forecast to be worth £1 billion in sales by 2019 as John Lewis accelerates the pace of own-label penetration. It recognises that such differentiation is the key to future success – especially when it is combined with a strong online presence, which provides powerful distribution capabilities.
Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider
K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.