Most developed countries are overpopulated with fashion stores. If we had to hazard a guess as to what will change in the world of fashion retail post-COVID 19, it would be that the number of stores will decrease, but the quality of the stores on the high street or in your local mall is more likely to be improved.
Many brands can no longer rely on the fact that they have a big presence on the high street. The fashion businesses that will go on to thrive in these harsh trading conditions will be those that invest in brand equity and leverage their resources to develop deeper connections with their consumer base.
Moncler, for example, has done away the archaic seasonal schedule, with the launch of it's Genius Initiative, employing multiple creative directors to work for the same brand, creating their own individual collections that are released on a rolling calendar. Moncler doesn't just attract shoppers, but fans, who buy into a shared value system rather than buy from a brand.
With lower tenancy rents and more unleased units, there will be an opening for smaller, independent retailers. Traditionally, these plucky upstarts have been the ones most open to trying new things - and could spell something really exciting for the independent fashion scene. Big-name brands can learn a lot from the independent brands, who will be launching stores not just to sell and transact, but to connect, to build up their community.
McKinsey has predicted that 80 percent of publicly listed fashion companies will be in financial distress if they are closed for two months. The severity of the situation is plain for all to see, and it means that when stores do reopen there will be little room for error. Fashion retailers will have to work harder to ensure that they converting passing traffic and find ways to maintain healthy customer dwell times, whilst observing social distancing guidelines.
This means that fashion retailers will have to consider a whole new set of KPI's that they may have taken for granted in the past. How many product impressions do we get in-store? How do we define and measure product engagement in-store? How many product try-ons do we get in a day? What's the average dwell-time in my seating area? is there a positive correlation between conversion and dwell-time in the seating area?
All in all, we are optimistic that retail will become more relevant than ever before. This quarantine experience has highlighted how important the offline world is. Our future shops will be curated. Retailers not only need to understand what people want, but they also need to learn how to provide these experiences in a safe and profitable way. These spaces need to become social but safe, combining retail, leisure, and safety.
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