The UK fashion retail sector is facing a greater range of threats than ever before, with traditional retailers like BHS and Austin Reed unable to survive in increasingly competitive times. Challenges such as increasing costs, reduced margins, the threat of online retailers and even the unpredictable British weather are slowly squeezing the life out of some high street names.
While the picture on the high street is quite bleak, the story couldn’t be more different online. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that online retails sales in September 2016 grew by 22 percent on figures for the same month last year, with online stores now accounting for 15 percent of all retail sales.
Understanding the customer
In these changing times, the high street brands that have been left behind are those that have failed to understand the modern consumer. By focusing too much on short-term revenue targets and reactive, rather than proactive shop-keeping, the traditionally close retailer-customer relationship many brands used to enjoy has become a thing of the past.
This is particularly the case in fashion retail, where customers are no longer loyal to one or two stores. Instead, they typically buy one or two items from a large number of different brands each year. This means that high street brands no longer have the same level of browsing data they once had, which makes predicting future trends and gaining insight into customers’ buying behaviour more difficult than ever before. Simply put, changing consumer habits mean high street brands now know much less about their customers than they used to.
Is a more personalised service the answer?
High street brands currently lack the data they need to give customers what they want, so how can they overcome this obstacle? Fortunately there is a solution, and this comes in the form of a data-driven, personalised solution that is taking the world of retail by storm.
A number of personalisation solution providers, like Dressipi in the UK, are working with major retailers to pool and share data about consumers. With the permission of the customer, secure and connected profiles are being created to store information. This includes personal likes and dislikes, key physical characteristics, and behaviour data from the retailers they have interacted with.
This information can be accessed by retailers and used to make improved recommendations to each customer based on their personal likes and dislikes. With this improved understanding, retailers can sell to their customers proactively, improving their merchandising and essentially acting as a customer’s own virtual shopper. When done well, retailers can successfully market and sell products to their customers that they didn’t even know they wanted.
Traditional customer service enhanced by modern technology
This unique combination of the new and the old is just one potential solution to the challenges fashion retailers are experiencing, and it’s expected to take the industry by storm. The UK is currently at the very front of the personalisation movement, with major international retailers looking to our shores to see how the collaborative use of data can be used to personalise the fashion retail experience.
As we head into 2017, it will be interesting to see what other solutions retailers come up with to further personalise the service they offer. But for now, a collaborative, data-driven solution is king.
Collaborate to compete
At commomKIN, we are firm believers in the power of collaboration to help fashion brands gain that all-important competitive advantage. By linking independent fashion brands together, we create a collective that can benefit from the economies of scale experienced by large fashion houses, and can collectively overcome the challenges small fashion brands so often face.
To learn more about the benefits of becoming part of our KIN, please get in touch with our team.