Any fashion-based firm employs various techniques to make its hold stronger in the world market and to reap more and more profits. A fashion retailer tends to open more and more stores, in case the business is successful at the first go; and a fashion manufacturer opens various manufacturing units, if there is immense demand for the product. After attracting a set number of customers or clients at a particular place, the firm targets other geographical locations. This helps the firm in spreading its reach all over the world gradually. Physical stores and manufacturing units help the firm establish itself in the global textile industry.
But there are drawbacks to these conventional business techniques; setting up retail stores and manufacturing units at various places require immense flow of capital. Besides, it is not guaranteed if the stores would bring in the success expected out of it. Businesses take risks by setting up stores and units at not-so-familiar locations. This step can result in huge losses to the firm, if sufficient research and analysis is not carried out. Besides, a large number of employees need to be employed and infrastructural requirements need to be fulfilled in these newly set stores and units, which ultimately increases the overall expenditure incurred by the firm. Setting up a business and expanding it was, therefore, considered a game of the super rich!
E-business in Fashion Industry
Internet has made the world a smaller place. It has facilitated long distance communication by making the process cheaper, faster, and easier. Today, internet helps business houses to cater to a global audience without any major investment. Fashion business houses can maintain a website to promote its products and to sell its products. The official website of any fashion brand serves as its identity on the World Wide Web (WWW). It helps in spreading awareness about the firm and its products. Customers can also purchase fashion products from the website. Fashion business houses can also display their products on e-commerce websites and social networking sites, thereby attracting more and more buyers. Online media helps fashion houses take their products world-wide with minimum investment of money.
The involvement of the internet is not merely limited to sales and marketing a product. It is also used in managing the processes of the company. Software applications that can be managed by people located at various places are used in the fashion industry. These applications make the overall business work easy. Australians reported a growth of 17.6 percent in their online shopping in the year 2012. Clothing, footwear, and jewelry are especially expected to record a strong growth in the next five years. Statistics indicate that almost 192 million consumers will indulge in online shopping by the year 2016, and apparel and jewelry are the hottest categories for the same.
It has been noticed that e-commerce provides a level playing field to all the sellers of fashion and clothing. A small-time enterprise has equal opportunities as compared to a big fashion retailer, in terms of online sales. This is the reason many small-time fashion retailers are also able to make big bucks through e-tailing. It has been estimated that around 4.3 billion worth of clothing has been purchased online, which is almost double to the amount purchased online last year. A recent study stated that almost 61 percent of small-time firms in USA have a website and around 35 percent of them sell products through it. Clothing manufacturers and retailers, despite the size of the enterprise, reap huge profits through a website by employing simple online marketing techniques.
Fashion Giants in E-business
Fashion giants, who have already made a mark for themselves in the industry, also realize the importance of e-business and e-marketing. They have their official websites which help them in promoting their products to a global audience. Nike, a leading fashion manufacturer of fashion products, saw a growth of 30 percent in its e-commerce sales in the year 2012. Debenhams, an online fashion retailer, saw its online sales increase by 40 percent in a four month period of 2013. John Lewis saw a rise of 20.7 percent in the year 2012. It is easy to market products through the medium of internet, as the marketing strategies involved are innumerable and the results are overwhelming from a long term point of view.
E-stores help consumers order fashion products of their choice, sitting right at their home! E-commerce websites also integrate various technologies to their website that assist in the process of shopping. For example, e-commerce websites integrate safe and convenient payment gateways that help consumers to make payment easily and safely. Besides, modern e-commerce websites also equip themselves with virtual trial rooms, wherein the consumers can try out apparels of their choice virtually, sitting on a couch. A survey revealed that around 40 percent of the total clothes purchased online were returned to the retailer owing to sizing issues. For this reason, many retailers chose to install virtual trial rooms for the satisfaction of the consumers. Macys, a fashion retailer based in USA, collaborated with software provider True Fit to excel in this field. John Lewis collaborated with the firm Cisco to install a magic mirror effect in its virtual trial room. Easy and safe online shopping is increasing the popularity of this mode of shopping.
E-business in Emerging Fashion Economies
E-business is not merely limited to the established fashion economies of the world. It is also valid for the emerging fashion economies. Emerging economies like India, China, Brazil, and South Africa are growing fast in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Textiles and fashion products are their biggest strength when it comes to export revenue. Emerging economies are also emerging fashion economies to a large extent. The use of internet is rising in these countries, and so is the use of internet for shopping! In a recent survey, it was found that the Indian e-retail market is expected to reach $76 billion by 2021. Similarly, online sales in China are increasing fast and three quarters of it is in apparel and fashion.
E-business is the rising star in the world of fashion today. The conventional means of marketing and managing fashion business is no longer talked about! Everything is going online. Besides, e-tailing of fashion products proves cheaper than physical stores a number of times. This is because, e-stores offer huge discounts as they order products in bulk. The end consumer need not worry about anything. They only need to pay, either at the time of placing an order or at the time the product is delivered. It will be delivered right at their home or any location they specify. It proves to be hassle-free. Of course, the delivery takes its time. But e-business has its own advantages. It can be considered a revolution in technology, and is widely in demand.
Pros and Cons of E-business in Fashion
E-business in fashion has more pros than cons to it, and that is the reason behind the continuous expansion of this industry. Consumers need not travel to long distances in order to purchase a product. They can get it, simply by the click of a mouse. Non-users of online retailers fear from using websites because it is a common
misconception that online sites are not protected. But modern e-commerce sites for fashion are well equipped in terms of safety. With the advancements in technology, this area is only expected to improve in the near future. E-business houses offer heavy sales and discounts as compared to the clothing purchased from physical stores; they find this easy because they normally purchase products in bulk. Many online retailers offer free shipping services, and many times consumers get products delivered to their door steps for a comparatively lesser price. Besides, e-tailers give you more options as compared to the physical stores. Consumers can easily compare between different prices and choose the site with the best deal.
From the looks of it, e-business in fashion is not likely to fade away. It is only expected to grow in the coming years. The role of internet in fashion business is expected to increase, may be to a level that cannot be imagined. It may entail more than marketing and back-office management in the future. It may help manufacturers in production and retailers in making the products reach to the end consumer. Its use is most likely to increase. It may even remove the concept of physical stores, altogether. At present, online stores and physical stores complement each other. But e-business may have greater importance in the near future.