How E-Commerce Has Changed the Fashion Industry?


Luxury brands like Dior and Chanel have shown great reluctance to go all out online. Seeing how e-commerce and mobile is directly related to the fashion industry, it is surprising to see fashion brands failing to keep up. However, change is coming as is evident with how Chanel launched its e-shop for beauty products and Fendi launched its e-commerce platform in 2015.

Small luxury brands are not far behind, as consumers are spending a lot more online than ever before. Moreover, for them to be successful they will need to deliver an exceptional shopping experience.

The App Craze is Real

With the rise of e-commerce, apps and social media platforms should not be neglected. Shoppers are always on the lookout for online content in order to make informed decisions while making purchases. Lifestyle blogs, Instagram and popular apps such as Depop, are relied upon during the customer journey to make purchases.  

These platforms have an addiction factor, enticing users to return for more. Keeping this in mind, fashion brands should shift their focus to app functionalities, the kind that will retain customers, especially because a great customer service just won’t cut it anymore.

If you think about it, users expect an easy journey while making purchases. There are several brands that have already taken advantage of Instagram’s integrated feature where users can shop from within the app itself. While other brands such as Offer Factor have included an option to allow users to immediately share their products on social media platforms. The image given below shows how easily they have included this option in their services,

Customers will not opt for retailers that fail to provide a seamless service. With millennials switching between social media platforms without a moment’s notice, brands need to come up with social media content to stay relevant.

An integrated social plan and e-commerce give small brands the edge they need to go big. Retailers like Tesco and Shop Direct are more than happy to work with small businesses these days and are investing in startup incubators because they crave innovation.

Small luxury brands are trying to benefit from the digital marketplace. This is can be seen by how the shoptique trend is rising exponentially, with small fashion brands vying for dominance. Shoptiques gives customers a platform to choose from a selection of products, all the while giving smaller brands the exposure they so desperately need.

Believe it or not, millennials are continuing to lead the way in the mobile and e-commerce space. The shopping app fever has spread across every retail area imaginable. Consumers are already spending 89% of their time on mobile apps, so its importance cannot be ignored by the fashion industry as a whole.

E-Commerce is a Powerful Engine for Growth

In the last decade, e-commerce has seen explosive growth around the globe, not excluding developing countries. The e-commerce market share in Q3 of 2017 of all retail sales increased to 9.1% from 3.5% from a decade ago according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The fashion industry is an engine for innovation and growth, it has led to several technological breakthroughs like the invention of Google Image, thanks in part to Jennifer Lopez and the Versace dress she wore for the Grammy Awards in 2000.

E-commerce entrepreneurs continue to introduce innovative and new marketing strategies, while fashion remains an inspiring source of visual merchandising and technology that has a positive impact on online conversion rates for retailers.

To put things into perspective, e-commerce allowed luxury fashion to be easily accessible across the globe, essentially making it a part of the global economy of today. The Global fashion industry sales were projected to grow to 4.5% in 2018 according to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index, which they more or less did.

Great Opportunities for Medium and Small-Sized Fashion Brands

With easy to attain financing from banks from companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, it is estimated that a staggering 84% of mid and small-sized business owners expecting to perform better in 2019, as it already did so in 2018 by 72% from the year before.

Previously, the lack of financing options prevented small businesses to implement Omni-channel strategic marketing to compete with larger brands. 2019 will show an increasing number of businesses using Omni-channel, multi-channel and cross-channel strategies to perform B2C and B2B sales – giving small businesses a change to perform better than their competitors.

On the other hand, smaller online enterprises and startups have benefitted from platforms like IndieGoGo, Kickstarter and Shopify. It is now that time where small businesses can go global. Fashion brands no longer question their ability to work with large online platforms, but instead plan on how they can work with them effectively.

Broader positioning via offline brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailing remains important just as it was before, as consumers look for products locally as well as digitally. When it comes to fashion, most traditional luxury brands are exclusively available at their offline and online stores. Whereas medium-sized luxury brands will distribute their products through select offline and online stores.

For the increasing number of small-sized fashion labels worried about telling a story, personalization and transparency – individual online stores can prove to be a valuable tool since content and visual-related representations online play an imperative role to millennials and eco-commerce consumers.

Many smaller e-commerce businesses benefit from sustainability, however, where they lack is in terms of digital visibility. Consumers concerned about sustainability are willing to inform themselves and make purchases of niche products globally. Even though millennials are informed online customers, they haven’t entirely given up on brick-and-mortar stores just yet, according to Accenture.

E-commerce provides Immense Versatility

Another profound reason why e-commerce is widely being used by fashion enterprises is due to the immense versatility that this platform provides. The level of marketing that a physical store provides can never compare to online platforms, businesses can reach millions of users simply by sharing their website on different digital channels.

Furthermore, this platform also empowers businesses with the unique ability to showcase thousands of their products at no cost. Take Sophie&Trey as an example, this online fashion boutique has thousands of products and a plethora of different categories. If they wanted to showcase their entire catalog they would have to invest in acres of commercial space however, they have used e-commerce instead.

Virtual Reality

E-commerce and mobile technologies served as the first wave of developments for the fashion industry. Now, the next possibilities for retail are leaning towards virtual reality.

These days, customers are able to browse through products and purchase them quite easily. However, there have been instances where brands suffered a severe backlash from customers for products that did not match their expectations.

To solve this problem, VR platforms are gaining prominence to change the online and physical retail landscape. For instance, try-on avatars are a big hit in the fashion world. Apps utilizing augmented reality, like DressingRoom, enable shoppers to try on different outfits on their avatars – customized to your measurements so that you can make an informed decision before purchasing an item of your interest.

These platforms have the ability to improve the online shopping experience for customers by leaps and bounds, also ensuring they stick around for longer than they normally would. Not only can customers see how a product would look on themselves, but they can do the same for others as well.

Let’s wrap it up

Over time, virtual reality platforms will add considerable value to retailers, as brands will acquire valuable insight through customer use, thus giving them the ability to provide customers an even more customized experience.

Overall, e-commerce has completely revolutionized the fashion industry and vice versa. The introduction of new technologies like VR, AI and IoT has made it possible for customers to get the type of experience they have always wanted.

Digital transformation has resulted in changes previously unimaginable, which is only expected to advance rapidly. If the fashion industry and the brands therein, wishes to stay on top, they will need to catch up, or risk being left behind.