As stores reopen, fashion brands hope to apply their e-commerce learning -- to coax consumers back to stores. Besides updating their websites, these companies also plan to add features like artificial intelligence and virtual changing rooms for a seamless online and on-site customer experience. While Raw Mango has replaced pop-ups with an online store, designer Anita Dongre uses online operations to boost her robust overseas business. Companies that built strong relationships with their online audiences may continue to hold an advantage by investing in areas that would reward them quickly. For instance, Myntra recently launched customized web pages to connect with Middle Eastern audiences.
Similarly, Tarun Tahiliani started using payment links to send invoices directly to consumers’ inboxes instead of relying solely on cart payments. As he points out, since the products offered by the brand are of higher-value, they require more customer engagement. The brand’s customers need to connect with its team to satisfy their doubts.
New ways to connect with consumers
During the pandemic, many companies learnt new ways to connect with their consumers. To reach online shoppers, Myntra revisited the ‘Myntra Fashion Superstar’ competition, first launched in October 2019. Raw Mango replaced pop-ups to reach an international audience with an online store.
One of India’s oldest multi-designer stores, Ensemble teamed up with the Baradari project to explore the impact of social issues as part of an online campaign to raise funds for the handicrafts industry. Some of the other brands hired professionals to train their internal teams to use social media and other virtual tools. Designer Masaba Gupta learnt to create an educational fashion content, while designer Monica Shah, Co-owner of couture label Jade, employs videos to engage its online audiences. These videos include Q&A sessions that make the design process or selection of a lehenga online easier.
Many designers are also using discounts to woo their price-sensitive shoppers. Brand Bodice has been able to boost sales of pared back neutrals and flowing lounge pants by offering a 20 per cent discount. The popularity of these items helped the company sustain its business through difficult times.
Luxury resorts to markdowns
Luxury and couture companies have resorted to markdowns. As times have changed, people are now willing to shop for high-value products, says Tahiliani. There is growing demand for lehengas, saris, gowns and statement dresses, in India and abroad, says designer Rahul Mishra who launched his collection Butterfly People at Paris Digital Haute Couture Week A/W 2020/21. The collection includes intricate masks and craft-heavy dresses. It also includes classic and artisanal pieces along with avant-garde and experimental silhouettes. Some brands also plan to capitalize on the upcoming festive season in India. Ekaya for example aims to tap the gifting sentiments of customers during this period to launch a range of handwoven scarves and pocket squares.