The Future Of Retail

Sushant Junnarkar, CEO, e-Commerce, AZA FashionsAZA Fashions is India’s luxury & premium designer online destination offering clients the convenience of shopping the best of Indian designer wear online from anywhere in the world.

Retail worldwide is witnessing a huge paradigm shift, and there are a number of factors that are driving this change an efficient supply chain, more personalised marketing, technology and being environment friendly. Smart retailers who seamlessly stride across all these functions efficiently will determine the future of retail.

Discounts and Sale events are increasingly becoming common in the fashion industry. The End of Season Sale(EOSS) dates for various brands have been slowly preponed over the last few years, while earlier February used to be start of the sale season, some retailers are starting their EOSS as early as Christmas. This strategy of driving business and acquiring customers, also points at a larger supply chain problem production of styles or designs in quantities way beyond what market would have consumed and therefore staring at a huge inventory issue. One retailer going on EOSS creates a domino effect with other retailers also joining in this sale bandwagon and there the entire fashion industry is on Sale. Again!

Retailers who will emerge as true winners and stayout of this frequent discounting mode will be able to run businesses that are more sustainable from a unit economics point of view. Use of technology and AI in trend forecasting will help in managing inventory buildups right at the production line. Fast fashion creating styles that are trendy and sellout fast are the key to avoiding this discount cycle. One of the examples is Zara, known for fast fashion trends and is, in fact known for styles selling off the shelves as soon as they are launched. This also creates a pull towards the brand where customers do not want to missout on particular styles and pick themup as soon as they are launched. We at azafashions com are also in a unique position where each of our outfit is custom made based on the orders received. This obviates the need for creating a huge upfront inventory and therefore reduces the proportion of business from discounted items.

Technology is emerging as an all encompassing tool in retail. Augmented realty/Virtual Reality(AR/VR) will enhance shopping experience. Whether used for virtual trials or to play a game to unlock special discounts and rewards on a mobile
device, AR/VR engages the consumers in new and interesting ways.

Employing artificial intelligence and machine learning will be imperative to driving sales. Whether to forecast the trends find the product best suited to individual needs crosssell/upsell or recommend products, or automatically reorder supplies, retailers will be able to improve their marketing RoIs.

Social media continues to influence the millennial buying decisions, and therefore has a considerable impact on retailer production cycles

we fore see four trends shaping up: Higher contribution of e-Commerce, Omnichannel, Sustainable fashion and Social media dominance.

Higher Contribution Of E-Commerce
Fashion will be one of the fastest growing categories in the e-Commerce space. With size able margins compared to other categories, fashion will continue to expand as more customers buy online. From NRIs in U.S. to customers in Tier-2 cities our customers at purchase high value items for special occasions online. As customer become more comfortable buying high value items online and logistics networks across zip codes improve thereby reducing delivery timelines customers will prefer the convenience of buying fashion online.

The hyperconneced consumer of today expects brands & retailers to provide consistent and unparalleled service across all touch points. A robust Omnichannel strategy has become more important than ever. An increasing number of pure online players are entering the brick and mortar space with the objective of drawing benefits of an integrated supply chain. This also enhances the overall buying experience that includes the option to buy online and pick-up from/ return to the store try sizes in the store and order online, instore alterations and so on. A retail store, a great website, a strong mobile application and high impact social media campaigns are not enough all channels must deliver a seamless customer journey for it to truly bean Omnichannel experience. Players that can offer great customer experiences across channels will be able to derive competitive advantages over other players.

Sustainable Fashion
It is the new ‘cool’. The millennial generation wants to know how products they use are made and who makes them. This has encouraged the fashion industry at large to introspect and revaluate creation processes, giving rise to a generation of contemporary designers who employ an ethical, ecofriendly approach to business. From using organic fibres and natural dyes, to reviving old artisanal techniques such as block prints, hand painting and applique, designers such as Anita Dongre Grassroot, Eka, Anavila, Urvashi Kaur & Doodlage(amongst many more)are creating collections that are individualistic, imaginative and conscious.

Social Media Dominance
Social media continues to influence the Millennial buying decisions and therefore has a considerable impact on retailer production cycles. Runway trends from the fashion capitals of the world are captured almost instantaneously through Instagram Snapchat, Youtube and others. This has created a thin line between seasons and the see now buy now model is taking over. Retail players that cannot deliver instant gratification will struggle to survive in an environment of fast fashion. Brands that can leverage social media channels have an opportunity to strike conversations with their community, occupy more mind space and eventually wallet share. To sum it up, the retail industry is at an inflection point and interesting times lie ahead. So if you are a retailer gear up! If you are a customer sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!