The online shopping industry in recent years has steadily taken over certain sectors, especially the online fashion industry. Brick and mortar fashion retail appears to be on the decline while fashion eCommerce is on the rise. This is a logical conclusion of lockdowns, but also due to a lack of tourism and ongoing supply chain issues. The big question now is are we witnessing the new normal?
To assist in fulfilling this online shopping golden era, 3pl services will automate your storage, and manage your inventory, packaging, and shipping. Switching to a 3PL in this online fashion boom in 2022 could exponentially grow your operations and increase your sales. Learn more below about fashion fulfilment and the online fashion industry.
Table of contents
Brick and mortar vs online fashion world
A personalised shopping experience has always mattered to customers. We know what we like, the brands we admire, and how much we want to spend. Traditionally our only option was the in-store shopping experience where we could see and touch the products we wanted to buy. However, modern technology is completely improving the online shopping experience with AR and VR, making it more customised and convenient. Window shopping has become much simpler on a phone or tablet and offers customers a greater variety of buying options.
More online fashion brands are improving mobile shopping experiences today, creating trust and retention with consumers globally. With technology innovations in this new world of convenience, e-tailers are capturing more market share by focusing on it. Improving the simplicity of the D2C & B2C eCommerce fulfilment experience is completely reshaping the fashion industry.
Styles change seasonally in the fashion industry. Fads come and go. What is not a fad is service and convenience. Speed is king today for customer expectations when it comes to shipping. Especially if consumers are willing to forgo the in-store shopping experience and instead participate in fashion retail online. Those who work to improve their supply chain with next day delivery automatically separate themselves from their competitors massively.
As online fashion retail soars in 2022, novel solutions are needed for fashion fulfilment, delivery, and bespoke services. This is where more eCommerce fashion companies will thrive with 3pl services. Whether you’re looking to outsource fulfilment operations completely, or simply relieve supply chain pressure in key areas, automation means scalability.
Online Fashion market
As UK retail fashion online sales increased 19% in 2020, brick n mortar sales fell by 24%. This shift to fashion eCommerce was an obvious transition, forcing bigger brands to focus on digital sales channels. Fashion is one of the most popular products selling online today. The most popular categories sold online include clothing, household items, groceries, and electronics. To start let’s go over online shopping statistics in the fashion retail sector to present an overview of the size of the industry.
The eCommerce fashion industry is estimated at 760 billion pounds worldwide. The most popular divisions largely include apparel, accessories, and footwear. By 2025 the market valuation is estimated to increase to 1 trillion. The largest online fashion shopping market is China, valued at 284 billion.
The next largest market is the United States, estimated at 126 billion, followed next by the United Kingdom at 32 billion. In 2020, 87% of UK households made online purchases, the highest online purchase penetration rate the last decade. The latest research is predicting that 52% of UK apparel sales will take place online in 2022. Following from this is Japan at 23 billion and Germany at 22 billion.
The largest online fashion retailers currently include Nike, Zara, Shein, and H&M. As more customers shop online in 2022, brands will be working to make online shopping a more immersive experience. This includes virtual reality selling, subscription models, and will even include metaverse eCommerce.
Nevertheless, digital selling will continue to its ascension as more people are preferring shopping from home in 2022. Does this mean brick n mortar will become less relevant in the coming years?
Brick and mortar pain points brings more opportunity for eCommerce sellers
Technology not only connects the world better, but it increases freedom. From the days of letter writing snail mail to email, from home phones to mobile phones, technology shapes culture. It shapes behaviours and values. Today technology has completely reshaped our personal shopping experiences. The common denominator in all these technological innovations is convenience.
Convenience will always be king. Convenience is at the top of the priority list for customers. This is the strongest reason fashion customers prefer online shopping to traditional brick n mortar shopping. For them, there is no waiting in line. There is no walking around a crowded shop for the exact item needed. There is no hassle from the sales staff. Plus, there is an abundance of buying options with competitive pricing on related fashion items – and all from the comfort of your own couch!
Freeing up operations saves time and money
Without the need for overhead costs like physical space and employees, eCommerce stores can significantly scale their operations. Want to grow faster? This is how to do it – smarter and faster. Cost savings on overheads allows you to reduce prices on your own products, instantly being more competitive in the marketplace.
Other incentives for consumers shopping online
1) Free shipping
3) Price comparison
4) Safety (Covid fears)
Fashion Fulfilment Customer experience
Customer experience matters. Customers have elevated expectations, especially nowadays, and those customers who have a wonderful experience with brands will likely repurchase. This is because of trust. Developing trust with online transactions is critical. As the adage goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. From order to delivery, it is all part of a 360 journey, a complete journey you must pay attention to in fashion and apparel.
Fashion is a highly competitive space, and seasonal changes affect stock levels quickly. Cloud-based fulfilment allows you the freedom to make quick adjustments on your inventory with multiple items. Organising your stock & implementing efficient warehouse management can be completed with the touch of a button. Otherwise, errors with antiquated systems of stock management will stunt your company’s growth and be very costly in the process.
3PL’s make the perfect partner for fashion retailers as the service is designed for smaller items. These items can easily be packaged and sent with same day dispatch. You can do custom packaging for the brand focused sellers and offer online tracking to your customers. Fulfilment services excel in this as experts because they do it every day and ensure efficiency and accuracy.
Next day delivery
Great products are everywhere. Similar products, similar materials, similar styles. What is not so great quite often is other important customer touchpoints. Offering next-day delivery for example is not always a top priority for brands when they’re scaling or focusing on other channels of the business.
If you are working with a 3pl, ensure same day dispatch is available for shipping. Customers are so spoiled today with quick delivery. The smart brands will offer it because they know they need to. Without a doubt, staying behind this trend will leave you in the dust – you must ship faster to compete in today’s online fashion industry.
Online fashion returns
With the highest percentage of returns in eCommerce (fashion), a smooth returns experience is paramount for online fashion brands. Being organised in your logistics operations with various SKUs demands a sophisticated warehouse management system (WMS). Great technology and automated practices with a customer-powered return solution (like Return Robin) free up valuable business time.
Clothing returns account for 75% of total returns. Why is this? Well, the obvious issue here is the reality of online selling. Not being able to try on something before you buy it can be challenging. This is something that is being improved each day with AR/VR selling for eCommerce returns.
For eCommerce businesses to maintain the sustainability of online sales and not alienate customers further, then ensuring a smooth returns experience is mandatory.
Best business practices to avoid eCommerce returns & ensure future business
- Include highly detailed accurate descriptions of your products. Inaccurately labelled descriptions are the top reason for most eCommerce returns. Include as much detail so that your customer feels they are getting exactly what they want.
- High-quality images & video – Using higher quality images and/or 3d renderings helps your customer see exactly what they’re buying. Videos also add an extra level of transparency to ensure quality and encourage better buying decisions.
- Make sure your customers can return products at no cost to themselves. Offer a Collect + return option or Return Robin solution, powered by Selazar.
If you’re using a 3PL make sure they offer you an easy returns policy and process. Quality checks can be done on products, then once cleared, be readded to your stock for reselling. Smart, simple, automated solutions.
*Selazars Return Robin integration provides a single platform for managing high levels of returns, bringing convenience and simplicity to reverse logistics. Customers can return items from the comfort of their homes – an innovation in 3PL services.
It would behove me not to mention a considerably basic but important principle of business, communication. Live chat needs to be embraced and implemented by more online retailers. Selling online means there is an obvious barrier unlike when customers shop in-store. In-store they have instant access to customer service. If they call, there is usually a long wait until you are given 10 options for the right department, which is exhausting. This is the OLD way of doing business, though it is still important to have. Customers need to feel they can trust you, and an immediate connection with live chat facilitates this process.
79% of customers say they prefer live chat because of the immediacy it offers. This matters in the age of convenience, right? Technology has spawned new breeds of shoppers. It would be prudent for brands to digitally transform the way they communicate. Today, 41% of customers expect live chat on your website, although research has shown only 9% of companies offer it.
Get on the train.
Automation and brand control fashion eCommerce fulfilment
As brands secure more omnichannel selling services like third-party logistics it is imperative for them to not let go of the brand, right? Brand matters. Branding has many advantages – luckily this service is not lost with third party logistics. With a 3PL you still have the option for customisation like custom packaging. This will be automated to your exact specifications. Pretty neat huh?
Using eCommerce warehouses is the best way to save on costs for warehouse space, employees, shipping, but also brand control. Service will not only continue for your business when you outsource it to a 3pl, it will improve. 3PLs, like Selazar, are experts in fulfilment.
Fashion eCommerce fulfilment inventory management
One of the biggest issues in the fashion industry is holding onto substantial amounts of stock. Items have so many sizes and colours, creating massive amounts of data collection and inventory management. An optimised software solution will be more efficient, allowing control of hundreds of SKUs from a single platform.
With the high number of SKUs to manage (style/size/colour combinations), a good 3PL can help you alleviate the stresses of managing multiple items – while being able to bundle items together or separate them as single items for sale.
Online fashion industry conclusion
The data is real. Fashion retail online is the new normal. Online fashion industry retailers need to rectify new options for their target customers, including omnichannel fulfilment to support the online experience. It’s obvious what the customers are saying in 2022 – they want more shopping from home convenience. Leveraging the best solutions for this process will keep you competitive in a new digital landscape. Make sure your eCommerce fulfilment service has smart operations that will automate your entire product journey from sale to final mile delivery and returns management. It will save you time. It will save you money. It will save you headaches and hassle.