IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section

Topic

Are manufacturers and retailers indeed looking for sizing/styling solutions as is made out to be during the lockdown situation?

Increased need for online fitting solutions as retailers shift to e-commerce
Even as the coronavirus pandemic has economies reeling across the world, it is increasingly clear that technology will emerge as a differentiating factor in the days to come. Fibre2Fashion spoke to some techexperts about how the worldwide lockdown is leading to a gradual shift in behaviour of retailers and manufacturers in terms of looking for sizing/styling solutions.


The scramble to remote working has accelerated shifts across the industry towards more digital modes of operation. Working remotely in a global industry has also highlighted the fundamental need for established standards and tools for fit consistency both in the physical and in 3D. Brands which already had such standardisation initiatives in place before covid-19, have accelerated these initiatives. We have also seen a significant uptick with brands in the queue which are transitioning existing Alvanon physical tools onto their 3D platforms. Before covid-19, reducing fit sample iterations and increasing speed to market were common goals for most brands. We have seen an increased need for training and execution on fit approval at the brand HQ, sourcing offices and the vendor base.

We see caution in all business activities of our customers. That said, it’s hot time for services like AstraFit. Lots of businesses use lockdown time to explore possibilities to enhance their e-commerce. Many of us understand that shift to online that is happening now is not going to bounce back big time. We will never return to 2019.

The shifted needs and shopping habits of consumers have made assortment curation and the determination of assortment volumes a strong focus among manufacturers and retailers, and this focus will remain post-covid-19. Retailers are consistently looking for ways to view their data attributes to drive specifically curated assortments of products that are localised for consumers, with a main goal of maximising top-line and minimise bottom-line bleed.

We have been seeing a gradual increase in demand for our products and services through the lockdown. This has been generally due to increased need for online fitting solutions as retailers shift to e-commerce in driving sales growth, in addition to the near immediate need for digital fitting solutions that can accommodate curbside pick-up or in-store shopping in the absence of fitting rooms. We have growing demand for our recently announced Contactless Fit solution and right now we’re finding some great ways to streamline the process and help companies reopen their stores safely.

As fashion retailers look forward and adapt their business models to increase personalisation, both online and in-store, solutions like ours are sought after. However, decision making for retailers is hard when they don’t know how the world is going to be in a month with so much uncertainty. The time is now for retailers to strengthen their digital presence while also looking at ways of becoming more sustainable and reducing their carbon footprint.

Companies are still reaching out with interest in Fit Finder and our product suite. We’ve observed that apparel retailers fall into three main categories in the current economic climate, which plays a big part in whether or not they reach out to us: companies who are primarily brick-and-mortar, pure-play online shops, and omnichannel retailers. Brands with a high share of brick-and-mortar and an underdeveloped e-commerce presence are in survival mode and have put new technology implementations on the back burner in order to focus on saving their companies. Pure-play online shops and retailers with a strong online presence are using this interruption to review new ways to enhance their e-commerce operations to meet the demand of the changing market environment, which includes looking at sizing solutions and other new technologies. The third category—the omnichannel retailers—is in between both worlds. These apparel firms have been hit hard by physical store closures, yet their online demand has accelerated at a pace none were expecting. They are having to adjust to two opposite business impact cases at once which is very challenging. Companies with liquidity issues are finding it challenging to make new investments at the moment. Those that are in a stronger financial position are thinking hard about their retail strategies and are preparing for a different shopping environment after covid-19. For these companies, now is the time to review new opportunities and invest in e-commerce technologies like Fit Finder to stay ahead of the competition.

We have seen a surge in demand for our solution. This has been driven by retailers’ desire to maximise the e-commerce channel and also to implement a fit and styling tool that can be used both online and in-store.

Published on: 17/06/2020

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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