New Delhi: There are real changes in spending patterns and consumer preferences, in the fashion world because of the impact of the current pandemic.
Delving deeper into people’s needs along with harnessing the power of online technology, is how Delhi-based fashion houses plan to stay relevant in the ‘new normal’.
Tanvi Malik and Shivani Poddar, one of the founders of the High Street Essentials fashion house – the parent company behind women’s fashion brands, FabAlley and Indya – underline what has changed, and how they have changed their brands accordingly.
IANSlife spoke to them at the launch of Fab Fix, a data-based product recommendation platform by FabAlley which curates fashion boxes to suit individual customer styles. This is intended to facilitate shopping in a messy e-retail space.
Q: How has the fashion business been affected because of the pandemic? What changes do you see in consumer attitudes and preferences?
A: Discretionary spending on the non-essential lifestyle category has seen a significant slowdown post Covid-19. However, our online platform has picked up well since Unlock 1.0 started. We are currently at a pre-Covid online income level of 75-80 percent and are scheduled to grow to 100 percent in the next 2-3 months. Our brand-owned shops and department store stores have witnessed a partial resumption over the past four weeks, with around 60 percent of our 400 offline contact points currently open. However, the fear of being in crowded public spaces such as malls and high street shops has caused very low footsteps. Retail offline will probably begin to see a more significant recovery starting in Q3.
Our customers prefer recession-resistant categories such as classic shirts, timeless splits, and dresses that go against the trend-led product line. Clothing, evening wear, and party wear have experienced the biggest beatings because social distance is becoming a new normal, but we have seen a surge in sales of comfortable clothing categories such as casual wear, evening wear and breathable underwear. Along with that, because WFH is a way of life now, formal tops such as shirts and blouses also look surging.
Q: E-retail fashion has seen many players in the last decade, how has space changed since you started?
A: The fashion e-retail industry has changed from a value-centric and discount-oriented ecosystem to a legitimate brand-building arena where differentiated offers in terms of products and services stand out. When we started, online fashion companies only offered cheaper, more generic, and offline-led brands using their digital platforms to liquidate season-long inventory at huge discount prices. Over the past few years, the convenience and democratic access offered by online channels, together with the explosion of social media platforms, has helped companies understand that brand salience is better built through offering products, different content, and providing stellar customer experiences online and sharpening their digital channels accordingly.
When we started, we provided a basic ‘Shop Now’, linear eCommerce experience on our website, but now we have added preference-based catalog curation, buyable content, subscription boxes, and other features that support Artificial Intelligence to bring shopping personalized. and the experience of exploring to our customers. We have also created deep connections between our online and offline channels and can gain insights, create better discovery experiences and optimize our marketing expenses when we see their journey with us across all channels; thereby truly creating the first experience of the omnichannel brand.
Q: The curated fashion boxes are still rather new for India. How do you come up with that concept?
A: Together with providing customers with different, chic and affordable clothing designs, we are committed to continuously improving their shopping experience with us. The last few months under lockdown have allowed us to reflect on, re-evaluate, and rethink strategies. We take this time to dig deeper into what our customers need and realize that more and more people are turning to digital ways of life where product choices are overwhelming, star customer experience is what they see.
The idea behind the personalized solution from Fab Fix is to facilitate the journey of our customers by making it faster and more comfortable and providing what they want in a bundled format. By answering a few simple questions led by preferences and personality, customers jump over the tedious task of browsing countless product pages and instead get the choice to choose from a variety of fashion boxes tailored to their personal style and desires.
Q: India is also a price sensitive market, how does Fab Fix try to overcome that?
A: Tops, dresses, and accessories are what customers need most and refresh their clothes every month. Our Fab Fix box consists of each one, bundled together with a 50 percent discount, with accessories as a surprise gift. If purchased separately from our website, the same three pieces cost more than double.
Q: Your future plans?
A. As online shopping accelerates in the Covid-19 era, we are also focusing our energy in the same direction. We are working to expand our D2C (Direct-to-Customer) footprint with new technology-led initiatives such as Fab Fix and AI-based catalog curation along with several other projects. Our focus is always on product innovation while looking after the needs of Indian women ahead. We have recently launched a series of non-surgical face protective masks and will soon launch goggles for FabAlley and Indya.
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