The perfect fit for fashion
Whether it’s fast fashion or a more personalised boutique operation, apparel retailers everywhere are faced with difficult and volatile trading conditions. This presents an opportunity. The answer is a more open and agile approach to commerce systems, adopting a true partnership that will ensure success throughout the many seasons ahead.
PCMS Business Development Manager Keith Dipple explained more…
How is UK fashion faring at the moment?
“It’s an extremely difficult trading environment, and has been for some time. Seasonal weather continues to be unpredictable, online convenience and pure-play offerings impact high street footfall, and political and economic uncertainty is affecting consumer spend and confidence. But there are many reasons for optimism. Fashion has always been a dynamic, swiftly-evolving business; frequent change shouldn’t be an intimidating prospect. New technology gives operators the service engagement agility required to keep pace, as well as the chance to better know existing customers and to meet and influence many new ones at minimal cost and effort.”
Is the fashion store dead?
“Far from it. Stores are expensive assets for multichannel fashion businesses, creating pressure to drive people into these physical environments. The cleverest operators are already doing this via a combination of multichannel outreach, smooth Click and Collect operations, and superior service and loyalty programs. Stores are also evolving into more immersive environments – think magic mirrors, augmented reality and loyalty rewards linked to behaviour, rather than traditional points-based models. Footfall may be down, but savvy operators understand that there are many opportunities to increase share of wallet once you get a customer in store. The art of selling and making customers feel appreciated aren’t new concepts, but how you do this is always evolving; to do it well today you need an agile commerce platform.”
What part does service play?
“Enhanced service across every channel is crucial, but it needs to be tailored for the business model. Fast fashion, larger-store format businesses generating high volumes of sales need speed of throughput. That means adopting payment technologies that queue-bust and allow customers to scan, pay and leave in the way that they want. Higher-end businesses have to deliver more personalised and attentive service. This is possible by adopting mobile assisted service – giving staff the tools and information they need to engage with customers in a memorable manner.”
Tell us a little more about personalised service
“There are so many opportunities via multichannel. Social media makes it possible to engage and personalise experiences based on tweets, geolocation and other factors. As we’ve shown with our personalised offers technology, there are major opportunities to leverage the influence of your loyal customers, maybe by incentivising behaviour through personalised benefits, treats, offers and services. Tracking those personal touches and redemption of benefits across all channels will allow you to better refine and influence recurring visits. In fashion, where the influence of friends and celebrities is felt much more acutely, the ability to influence the referral and advocacy network across the channels should not be overlooked.”
How can mobility aid productivity and profitability?
“Due to economic pressures, retailers have to operate on lean labour models, which means they need to ensure maximum productivity from their staff, often in a high pressure, high footfall environment. With assisted mobile points-of-sale, empowered store assistants can locate stock, personalise service, suggest additional styles and accessories and approach customers without waiting. In short, ‘associate enablement’ applications arm them to sell more, more swiftly.”
How else should fashion businesses evolve?
“The answer is in experimentation; continually surprising and delighting. There will forever be new and exciting ways fashion businesses can captivate customers, making them feel special and incentivising their spend. Previously, operators may have worried that any form of experimentation in the way customers pay, for example, would require an expensive ‘rip and replace’ of existing hardware and platforms. This is just simply not the case now. With VISION Commerce Suite (VCS), it’s possible to start and run a trial on mobile devices and applications within a few months and more cost effectively than most would imagine.”
How can PCMS help?
“With VISION Commerce Suite, apparel businesses have a single platform that brings together the major elements of their commerce operation. For example one promotions master that serves all channels, driving service consistency and removing ambiguity and error. VCS provides a future-proofed platform that not only enables retailers to sweat their legacy technology investments for longer, but importantly it creates a bridge to the future – to greater agility – allowing experimentation and also helping businesses to seamlessly scale internationally, across new formats or even across several brands. Progress doesn’t need to be a ‘big bang’ project but a phased and palatable investment journey towards best-in-class platform commerce. We work with some of the largest and best-known apparel businesses in the world; offering seamless style, ease of integration, reliability, and the ability to experiment. And that never goes out of fashion.”