If you haven't caught up with digital, it's already too late. Digital is not going anywhere and is in fact rapidly growing at a swift pace.
COVID hit New Zealand's already struggling fashion industry hard. We got to see who was swimming naked, and who quickly got dressed. For those who were able to pivot their business, I commend you. It is not an easy thing to be a speed boat when everything around you seems like the Titanic. For 2021, it is important to hold your ground as well as being flexible. Get rent relief where you can, don't do dramatic sales, and go DIGITAL. I can't believe I am encouraging this, my father would be furious, but we too have bitten the digital bullet, as our advertisers and subscribers struggle to pay print rates we have pivoted to digital in all but a few editions of Apparel. For small brands and emerging designers, spend your money on digital. This year is NOT about runway shows, fashion weeks, or any other kind of vanity project. 2021 is about evolving and surviving. The need to buckle down and take this seriously because fashion was already a tough industry to survive in and now through various levels of lockdowns we are not looking too sharp. Everyone held on in 2020 thinking to just get to 2021, unfortunately, COVID-19 followed us and it's going to be a long recovery.
Recessions are tricky, one small risk could be costly, but there is hope. Looking long term; the need for an interactive website that is user-friendly and stands out is key. Whether your target market is fifteen years old or ninety, the website has to be intuitive. Website development can be an expensive part of your business, but it is worth it. Look into recovery carts, e-newsletters, search bars, curated apparel edits. I do not recommend a sale tab and having a predictable end of season sale. Sales don't necessarily make money, sometimes its barely breakeven. If the most visited tab on your website is the sale tab, there's a problem.
Buyers are out there, but buyers are also hungry for something different, exciting releases and a reason to shop. Work with your stockists to establish a proper release date for each season. The current season system needs fixing and an industry consensus. As I have said many times before, why are heavy Winter coats dropping in-store in March? Consumers don't want nor need them then and by the time Winter actually rolls around, they are considered yesterdays style. Understand your consumer, understand who you are marketing to, it is difficult to appeal to all, sometimes targeting is the better option. It may be time to buy in data or analysis of the data you are collecting, shopper data is important. If you don't have any analysis of your data then get an expert in, don't think that you can wing it.
Consumers are spontaneous creatures that always want new and perhaps never more so than in a COVID-19 year. They are home, can't travel and want distractions. If they saw it in March, but need it in June - that coat is old news. I highly recommend breaking collections into multiple capsules throughout the year rather than two or four seasonal collections. Keep costs low, overheads down, your collections small, keep it local and most importantly understand the profile of who your buyer is.
If we don't support local now, they will surely perish. Those skill sets will be gone and we won't be able to revive them.
2021 is a steep challenge, but Kiwi's are well known for their ingenuity. This is the year to evolve, survive and thrive.