Massive strides in technology along with perennially increasing customer expectations have changed the tide for the fashion and apparel industry in this ongoing pandemic. While social distancing continues to dampen the shopping spirit, the online markets are buzzing with activity. The pandemic has compelled wholesalers, retailers, and even the most popular fashion labels to change their approach. As they define new aspirations, we look into the many dynamics that are currently at play as far as B2B eCommerce is concerned for the apparel sector.
Businesses today do not have the luxury of time to prepare for the eCommerce revolution. It is already here gathering momentum at a phenomenal pace. The figures and statistics are for everyone to see. In the third quarter of 2020 itself, 14.3% of the total U.S. retail sales were attributed to eCommerce alone and well, this is just the beginning. According to Statistica, global e-retail sales crossed $4.2 trillion with over 2 billion people purchasing goods or services online in 2020.
Adds Andrew D’Souza, CEO and Co-Founder of Clearbanc, “Our ‘Lockdown: Sales Up’ report showed that coming out of Black Friday, small online businesses collecting less than $50,000 in monthly revenue saw 150% revenue growth revenues, compared to 20% for companies making $300K or higher per month.”
It is however the growth of the global fashion eCommerce market that iterates how important digital channels have become for its survival and success. From $549.55 billion in 2020, it has grown at a CAGR of 21.6% to its current value of $668.1 billion in 2021. The future holds tremendous scope considering the eagerness of brands and businesses to adopt new technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, barcode scanners, etc. along with a bunch of automation tools to enhance the consumer experience.
All in all, eCommerce is not just here to stay, but all set to change the course of your business, taking it towards more promising times and opportunities. We believe it’s the only way to survive the pandemic and excel in the world of fashion and apparel led by future-forward, winning eCommerce strategies and solutions.
With several years of domain experience, we feel equipped to help you in this important transition irrespective of how familiar you are with the ways of eCommerce and how willing you are to level up your game. Through an extensive blog series on eCommerce for your apparel business, we plan to cover the deets and arm you with everything you need. But before we begin, allow us to help you assess where you stand, what you need, and understand why an eCommerce platform is just what you need.
So let’s begin.
Do you need an eCommerce store?
With online shopping on the rise, Statistica expects e-retail revenues to touch $5.4 trillion in 2022. It had also predicted B2B eCommerce sales to reach $1.2 trillion by 2021, which means there has been an uptick in sales and revenue whether it’s B2C or B2B. Despite the exponential boom, business owners are still struggling to answer that one basic question – How important it is to have an eCommerce store?
Especially B2B business owners who have often conducted their business face-to-face cannot get over their brick-and-mortar nostalgia. But moving your apparel business online should not be perceived as some kind of existential crisis or a mere means to survival.
It’s simply a way to align with what your consumers want, how they wish to be treated, and accordingly adapt to the changing ways of modern markets. Businesses are now opting for a click-n-mortar or an exclusive eStore model for their apparel companies.
But the fact that you are already here and reading this also means you are almost there, ready to change, adapt, and evolve. So let’s dive deeper.
What your customers expect from you
There are many people out there with disposable incomes but less time. They are eager to buy if you are willing to explore innovative technologies to build experiential eCommerce. They are no longer glued to their television sets nor are they blindly following ads. They are now devoting most of their free time to social media listening to influencers. They are not blinded by the glitz and glamor of famous brands but are now cautious about their spending and well-informed about changing trends.
Modern shoppers compare prices, look out for deals, and want to be in control of their choices and buying decisions. They want to know everything – the color, the fabric, the country it’s made in, the exchange and return policy, and the popularity quotient of what they are choosing. They are now looking for personalization across their purchase journey.
They want you to track their user behavior in a way that you understand them without being intrusive. They want you to anticipate their needs perfectly well. They want to engage with product-centric content as long as you can bring out the value in your offerings. They want you to not only recommend products but offer a complete experience of what it’s going to feel like when they own them.
What you need to do
It has now boiled down to stepping into the shoes of your consumers to understand them well. Many companies are now into situational targeting to serve their customers based on factors like geographical location and weather. Your decision to transition to an eStore gives you a chance to expand your markets and reach out to a global audience. In fact, it’s no longer about merely promoting products for the apparel industry.
The modern consumer is no longer enticed by images of shapely models but wants to know what it feels like to be in that very picture. They want you to be their stylists, fashion gurus, and facilitators. Now that’s an immense responsibility to shoulder in a digital store where you cannot actually see your customers. But there are tools, technologies, and AI-driven platforms to help you sustain in this era of shifting loyalties where price is now the king.
You need to offer multiple payment and language options too. You must have the right policies on privacy, return, and exchange. You need to deploy automation for various chores including logistics and inventory management. The right analytics and reporting tools should also be leveraged to understand what inspires them to ‘add to cart’ and improve the conversion rate. Only then would you be able to decide when to entice your customers with flashes and drops or reward them with members-only sales and loyalty programs.
The in-app experience must be as good or even better than an in-store experience. 3-D image mirrors, virtual fitting rooms, and interactive screens are being added to the ever-growing list of features that enhance the online shopping experience. You must offer all of this too to enhance the experience.
How different is eCommerce for the apparel sector?
The needs of fashion shoppers and apparel business owners can be very specific. This means you will have to have great filtering systems to ensure a great interface. This would help them find the exact style, color, pattern, and fabric in a jiffy. You would also want to augment your presence on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat to target specific demographics. You must improve your website appearance and spruce it up with clear, concise content, dominant images, easy navigation while ensuring it offers a seamless experience through mobile phones too.
You must be available 24X7 through live chat, phone, and social media to resolve issues and connect with your customers in a language they understand. What you in fact need is a dedicated eCommerce platform that can help you meet the two prerequisites of an apparel eCommerce business – speed and variety.
Those who understand this are already leveraging leading platforms like BigCommerce, ewiz commerce, Magento, Shopify Plus, Oro Inc., and Salesforce. Luckily, they address the many needs of an online apparel business. The ones like ewiz commerce however come with the distinction of having everything you need all rolled into one helluva innovative AI-driven platform.
Start your B2B eCommerce journey with ewiz commerce
At ewiz commerce, we help you create a customer-focused B2B apparel eCommerce platform for your apparel business that comes with a host of in-built AI-powered tools. Call us today to explore over 100 features for your unique business objectives, including a roadmap to B2B eCommerce success.
Up Next: Straight from experts who understand B2B eCommerce like the back of their hand, this series will address its many nuances from the perspective of an apparel business. Our next post will look into its evolving landscape and why a digital makeover is a must. Stay tuned.