Online sales now account for over 26.2% of total retail sales in 2020, over double what they accounted for in 2011, according to Statista. This clear shift towards online eCommerce sales has exponentially soared since the very beginning of the pandemic, with retailers throughout the UK turning their efforts to online sales in order to continue thriving.
Unfortunately, with restrictions showing no signs of easing, retailers can no longer rely on their shop fronts reeling people in or clever displays enticing customers to buy extra items with their bricks and mortar presence.
In particular, the retail fashion industry has been negatively impacted. While the big-name fast-fashion retailers have sailed through the last year with record-high sales, smaller fashion retailers or those without a real online presence have struggled to survive. UK fashion retailers have been pushed deeper into crisis by tighter controls concerning COVID-19 restrictions.
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Braving the Storm
Fortunately for many fashion retailers in the UK, running an eCommerce service has enabled them to continue operating with minimal disruption. However, retailers are required to have some form of an online presence to carry out a click and collect or delivery service, whether it be through an eCommerce website, social media marketing or through a mobile app.
Admittedly, the Government’s “stop-start” approach hasn’t been very helpful for fashion retailers, leading to non-essential stores to close not just between March and June 2020, but also in November 2020 and from January 2021 onwards. This has proved difficult for fashion retailers heading into the key January trading period, with demand typically at its highest.
With more of us staying at home, working from home, unable to see our loved ones and cancelling planned holidays and events, the demand for fashion has taken an overall drop. The fashion industry faces particular difficulties in a very daunting time.
With that being said, there does remain a market for fashion products, although a different approach must be taken to reach, engage and sell to new and existing customers. Operating with an online presence should be at the very heart of fashion retailers’ business strategies moving forward.
From early 2020, it has been up to retailers to innovate new ways to sell and keep themselves afloat during these uncertain times. With the pandemic now lasting much longer than we had ever anticipated, with many other countries now back to normality, these innovations have become more long-term.
Primark’s £800m Loss
Lockdowns and social distancing have prompted pleas for help and support from the fashion industry throughout the past year, with a growing appetite for online shopping from consumers.
Technology has mitigated disruption for retailers by creating light at the end of a seemingly never-ending tunnel. Unfortunately, those without an online presence have remained in the dark with some retailers, for example, fast-fashion retailer, Primark, neglecting the idea of setting up an online eCommerce store, resulting in them losing around 40% of their annual profits.
According to Independent, Primark took a mind-boggling £800m hit from store closures during the first lockdown between 23rd March and 15th June 2020, when they were unable to make any sales during this period of time.
Meanwhile, online-only fashion retailers, such as Boohoo, Shein, ASOS and Zalando have received a record-high number of sales, with Boohoo (alone) receiving a 44% surge in sales during 2020.
It’s clear that operating with regular promotions and loyalty incentives (such as annual unlimited next-day delivery) has coordinated the growth seen by online fashion retailers, such as Boohoo and Missguided, while Arcadia, the parent company of Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge, has since launched into administration towards the later end of 2020.
Fashion Retailer Case Study: Wellgosh
Established as a premium streetwear and footwear retailer, Wellgosh are a family-run Leicester clothing shop based in the city for more than 30 years. As a brick and mortar retailer who only closed their doors for the very first time in 32 years in March 2020, Wellgosh have been forced to adapt to eCommerce sales in a bid to continue thriving.
While Wellgosh has a robust in-house team, shifting these efforts into improving their online presence proved difficult, hence why they required external support to cope with their complete move to online retail.
As a digital marketing agency working alongside Wellgosh, we were able to provide support by creating strategic concepts for their social advertising campaign, designing email marketing newsletters, along with creating a more user-friendly eCommerce website optimised for search engine optimisation.
Pete Turner, Director at Wellgosh, says “There’s a lot of challenges in the environment, so it’s crucial to have a really good online presence. Our digital marketing has seen great success and we have had a lot more traffic come to the site which has converted into sales.
“Digital Ethos have helped us through these challenging times and I’m confident we will continue to see the good results in future months.”
Dan Greengrass, Manager at Wellgosh, also adds “We’re coming into a tricky period of time, so it’s massively important that our online presence picks up where our footfall may fall off on the high street. With this in mind, it’s been a massive focus to up our game online.
“Retailers like to have a grasp of their online presence, however, in a fast-moving world, not all retailers are experts in that field.”