Case Study of Online Retail Fast Fashion Industry
In 2020, the fashion industry suffered a setback with stores closing down and manufacturing units being forced to stop operations. The pandemic hit this market in the worst possible manner. The sudden lockdowns gave shops and companies no time to prepare themselves. This was when the concept of online fast fashion was conceptualized.
Fast fashion was already prevalent in the industry. It allowed people to don clothes and accessories similar to the ones shown in elite events. However, it was mainly operated through in-store purchases. Online orders of such high-end apparels and fashion products were not encouraged. However, fast fashion brands like H&M, Zara, and Chanel have adopted digital strategies to widen their customer base.
So, what precisely is “fast fashion” and what is its role in the digital market?
Fast fashion concept in the industry
“Fast fashion” is a term generally used to define the practice of putting the clothes and accessories on the sale window once they are showcased in any event. For example, a dress presented on a runway or fashion show will become readily available in the stores due to fast fashion.
Earlier, high-end customers were the main target, owing to the higher price of these clothes. This also increased the value of the fashionable products, due to their exclusivity. People belonging to the upper-middle-class and lower-middle-class economic backgrounds could not afford to purchase them.
While companies could enjoy a good amount of profit from their upper-class clientele, their customer base was limited in quantity So, to increase brand exposure and revenue, many companies began to present these once-reserved products for the lower-income groups who were higher in number.
Once the runway or fashion show gets over, the designs and clothes displayed are sent for mass manufacturing. After that, a catalog is prepared where these products are added. Usually, the prices are lowered to ensure accessibility. Since the products are immediately put up in the store, this process is termed fast fashion.
Adoption of online channels in the fast fashion process
Even though fast fashion was in the trend for a long time, it was only available in the stores. One had to go to the dedicated outlet and then make the purchase. Due to these challenges, the fast-fashion giants were compelled to transform this operation into an online format.
Below are some of the reasons why fashion brands started online fast-fashion channels.
- Pandemic: First, the pandemic caused a massive decline in sales and in-store purchases. All the outlets and brand shops were closed. Therefore, the companies couldn’t sell their fast fashion products. Seeing how well the online e-commerce platforms were trending in 2020, many brands integrated online sale channels. It ensured that fast fashion brands and products could be easily put on the virtual store.
- More Sales: Several top-notch brands like H&M, Zara, and Ralph Lauren have international outlets too. Now, all of their fast fashion products aren’t available in all the international stores. Moreover, no one can travel to the native countries of these brands and get a dress. This in a way caused a shrinkage in the consumer market, and that’s why online shopping channels were introduced. Zara accumulated over 73.3% of its revenue through its online sales, with women’s items providing approximately 60% of Zara revenues.
- Quick & Convenient: People nowadays want services, products, and benefits quickly. They don’t like to go out shopping when they can simply order their favorite dresses, bags, shoes, and so on from e-commerce websites. This sudden change in the customer base behavior threatened the sales of several fast fashion brands. Therefore, they launched online fast fashion channels, where anyone can now easily place orders and get their favorite apparel without wasting any time.
- Offers & Discounts: Also, several e-commerce websites offer lots of discounts, offers, and sales. Such lucrative options have built a huge consumer base in recent years. Therefore, launching an online fast fashion channel will always prove fruitful for any business. After all, their products will be sold faster, especially with discounts and offers.
To be honest, it is not just about the revenue or the numbers that grow with the integration of digital marketing. Rather, these giants now have massive exposure to the audience. As a result, the success rate has increased, and more and more people can now avail of the products within an affordable range.
Benefits of online fast fashion trend
The online fast fashion channel is highly beneficial for brands worldwide. In this section below, some of the main advantages have been discussed briefly.
- Increased sales: Fast fashion brands will allow the fashion stores to run multiple sale channels that will help in increasing revenue over time. Moreover, they can also approach more audiences of different demographics like age, gender, and communities.
- Diverse range: You can offer many products online and thus, diversify the market easily. For example, Zara has introduced many products on its online fast fashion channel, which isn’t even available in their stores.
- Trending business: As more and more consumers can easily buy the products that they have seen in fashion shows and runways, it will become convenient to gain positive feedback and fame. The present fashion industry depends greatly on customer feedback. And since online channels are virtual, this feedback will play an essential role, so a separate online fast-fashion business pathway will be more fruitful.
- Cost-effective: For fast fashion brands, there is a higher possibility for expense reduction after they adopt the fast fashion strategy. With the help of online platforms, they can sell higher amounts to consumers directly with no need for keeping additional storage space. Additional costs like renting a storefront or maintenance are not necessary. Comparatively, developing and handling a website is much easier and cost-effective for companies.
- Smooth operations: With the absence of any middleman or vendor, any manufacturing company in the fashion industry will sell their prestigious dresses and apparel to customers. Moreover, the communication gap won’t affect the services, and everything can be done smoothly with no hassle.
- Digital stores: The digital market is a growing technology, and soon people will completely forget about visiting stores physically and buying different products from prestigious brands. With the introduction of online fast fashion channels, people can easily purchase apparel and accessories without dragging themselves to stores.
- Custom features: With the online fast fashion channel, one can even establish the feature of customization, which has proven to be very helpful for fashion brands worldwide. A business can even offer personalized services, so it is a boon for the brands and companies in the fashion market.
Challenges associated with online fast fashion
Despite the growing demand for online fast fashion brands and services, the brands and manufacturers also face several challenges. These hurdles need to be overcome as soon as possible because the digital market is a very competitive platform. If a brand fails to satisfy their customer, there won’t be any progress in its exposure, reputation, and revenues.
Here are some of the challenges:
- Meeting consumer expectations: The online platform is full of fast fashion brands, both experienced and amateurs. If a brand fails to provide products and services, according to the customer’s expectation in any way, it will become very difficult for them to grow and prosper.
- Maintenance: The channels need to be maintained continuously, so a fashion brand needs to invest in digital marketing. This is an additional expense that the small and medium scale companies won’t be able to bear, especially if they are selling on multiple channels.
- Secure platform: It is the responsibility of the brand to ensure that the e-commerce platform they have chosen is secure enough to protect customer information and process payments with ease. If not, then the company will be blamed and not the online e-commerce platform.
- SEO: Some other hurdles these fast fashion brands are facing are server downtime and SEO. They have to spend time perfecting these aspects so that their brand and product names can appear in the first few results on the search engine.
- Shipping costs: When international deliveries are involved, shipping charges are huge, which is definitely a setback to fashion brands.
Over the past couple of years, the fast fashion channel has brought huge revenues and success to fast fashion brands. However, these companies are yet to achieve milestones because of the hurdles they are facing presently. Therefore, to implement the online fast fashion formula, it is imperative to study the changing consumer market and devise strategies accordingly. After all, everyone likes to stay ahead in the competition, but that won’t be possible without any effort.
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