Over the years, with the non-stop advancement of technology, firms in different industries have been doing their best to keep up. Almost every brand has an online store now, but that’s just scratching the surface since the main focus has shifted from desktop to mobile. But when it comes to the fashion industry, especially luxury giants have been rather reluctant and slow to progress on mobile retail. The rise of m-commerce is quite relevant to the industry, yet most brands are still far behind on technological advances and are doing less than they could to facilitate shopping through apps and other mobile means.
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The fashion industry has benefited from the increasing popularity of mobile and social media, but has still failed for the most part in taking it into its own hands. With the growing competitiveness of the market, it would be expected for firms to utilise every possible way to maximise sales and customer experience. A study conducted by NewStore, a mobile retail platform, showed all the ways the fashion industry is missing out on opportunities to use mobile to their direct benefit. NewStore researched 140 luxury, apparel and lifestyle firms, and gave them a collective grade of C+ on their “customer journey.” So how will the fashion industry adapt to the changing technology and demands?
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about mobile retail are apps. Consumers are three times more likely to purchase from apps, because if someone takes the time to download a retailer’s app, they are most likely an existing customer. Nowadays, most brands offer an app and consider that to be enough. However, they are usually lacking in some ways customers would call essential. There is a major expectation for seamless service. Since millennials can switch between different media platforms 27 times an hour, they will not wait around if an app malfunctions. Also an easy journey from app to having the product at hand is necessary. The functionality of apps need to be adjusted so there is a simple flow from browsing, shopping and payments.
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The apps also need to make sense from the business point of view of the firm. It shouldn’t just be a copy of the catalogue or website, it needs to adapted to the target that buys via smartphone. The innovations brought should be with the aim of increasing the retailers’ overall proposition, loyalty of customers and customer experience, not just for the sake of having an app. A poorly functioning app could negatively affect the name and general perception of the company and therefore have serious financial implications.
Retailers can not only use their own applications, but also existing mobile retail or social media apps to boost sales. Shoppers nowadays usually seek user-generated content before making a purchase. Seeing a web influencer or celebrity on social media drives people to buy products they might not even have heard of beforehand and it also contributes greatly to the consumers’ research for products. Since most social media have an addicting factor to them, users keep wanting to come back and look for more, which is something retailers can make use of.
Although the fashion industry has a long way to go with mobile retail, it still rules leads m-commerce worldwide with 33% of sales being made on mobile. It also leads the overall e-commerce traffic in the UK by 45%. But if the day comes when the fashion industry is finally fully taken over by the smartphone, what happens to the high street? Most shoppers take their mobile phones in-store to compare prices and research products. Bridging the gap between the digital and physical retail worlds is an important way to help the high street grow. Retailers can also see what the customers are looking at in-store and therefore make better choices when it comes to stock and product placement.
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As the mobile retail world grows, only time will tell if the fashion industry will be able to adjust. Although the overall picture shows almost all brands are making an effort, the real leaders in the new era will be the ones that are able to take m-commerce a step further.