There is a marked change in spending patterns and consumer preferences, in the world of fashion due to the impact of the current pandemic.
Digging deeper into people's needs along with leveraging the the power of online technology, is how a Delhi-based fashion house plans to stay relevant in the 'new normal'.
Tanvi Malik and Shivani Poddar, co-founders of fashion house High Street Essentials - the parent company behind women’s fashion brands, FabAlley and Indya - underline what has changed, and how they have revamped their brand accordingly.
IANSlife spoke to them on the heels of the launch of Fab Fix, a data-driven product recommendation platform by FabAlley that curates fashion boxes suited to a customer’s individual style. This is meant to ease shopping in a cluttered e-retail space.
How has the business of fashion been impacted due to the pandemic? What changes do you see in consumer attitudes and preferences?
A. Discretionary spending on non-essential lifestyle categories has seen a significant slow-down post-COVID-19. However, our online platforms have picked up well since Unlock 1.0 began. We are currently at a 75-80 percent pre-COVID online revenue levels and are slated to grow to 100 percent in the next 2-3 months. Our brand-owned stores and departmental store shop-in-shops have seen a partial resumption over the last four weeks, with about 60 percent of our 400+ offline touchpoints being currently open. However, the fear of being in crowded public spaces such as malls and high streets shops has led to a very low footfall. Offline retail will probably start seeing a more significant recovery starting Q3.
Our customers’ are preferring recession-proof categories such as classic shirts, timeless separates, and dresses as opposed to trend-led product lines. Occasion-wear, evening wear, and party wear have taken the biggest beating as social distancing becomes the new normal, but we have seen a spurt in sales of comfort-wear categories such as lounge-wear, night-wear and breathable bottom wear. Along with that, since WFH is a way of life now, formal top-wear such as shirts and blouses have also seen a surge.
Fashion e-retail has seen many players in the last decade or so, how has the space changed since when you started?
A. The fashion e-retail industry has transformed from a value-centric, discount-led ecosystem to a legitimate brand-building arena wherein differentiated offerings in terms of both products and services are what stand out. When we started, online-only fashion companies were only offering cheaper, more generic products and larger offline-led brands were utilizing their digital platforms for liquidating seasons’ old inventory at deeply discounted prices. Over the last few years, the convenience and democratic access that online channels offer, along with an explosion of social media platforms, have helped companies understand that brand salience is better built through offering differentiated products, content, and delivering a stellar customer experience online and hone their digital channels accordingly.
When we started, we were providing a basic ‘Shop Now’, linear eCommerce experience on our website, but now we have added preference-based catalogue curation, shoppable content, subscription boxes, and other Artificial Intelligence-enabled features to deliver a personalised shopping and browsing experience to our customers. We have also created deep linkages between our online and offline channels and can derive insights, create a better discovery experience and optimize our marketing spends as we view their journey with us across channels; thus truly creating an omnichannel brand first experience.
Curated fashion boxes are still somewhat new for India. How did you come up with the concept?
A. Along with providing our customers design-differentiated, chic, and affordable clothing, we are committed to constantly bettering their shopping experience with us. These past few months under lockdown have allowed us to reflect, re-evaluate and rethink strategies. We took this time to dig deeper into what our customers need and realised that as more people turn to the digital way of life where product options are aplenty, a stellar customer experience is what they are looking at.
The idea behind the personalised solutions of Fab Fix was to ease our customer’s journey by making it quicker and more convenient and delivering just what they want in a bundled format. By answering a few simple personality and preference-led questions, customers skip the tedious task of browsing through innumerable pages of products and instead get the option to choose from a variety of curated fashion boxes that are best suited to their personal style and wants.
India is also a price-sensitive market, how does Fab Fix try to work around that?
A. Tops, dresses, and accessories are what customers typically need the most and refresh their wardrobe with every month. Our Fab Fix boxes consist of one of each, bundled together at 50 percent off, with an accessory as a surprise gift. If bought individually from our website, the same three pieces would cost more than double.
Your upcoming plans?
A. As online shopping accelerates in this COVID-19 era, we too are focussing our energies in the same direction. We are looking at expanding our D2C (Direct-to0Customer) footprint with new technology-led initiatives such as Fab Fix and an AI-based catalogue curation along with a few more projects. Our focus has always been on product innovation while keeping the needs of Indian women on the fore. We have recently launched a line of non-surgical protective face masks and will soon be launching loungewear for both FabAlley and Indya.