Online Fashion Customization: Only Viable Solution as Coronavirus hits Brick-and-Mortar Economy

For the past decades, the mantra of retailers and shopping malls has been experiencing will save us. Give shoppers something they can’t get online—in-person, hands-on, face-to-face. Then came the coronavirus crisis. The strategy of turning stores and malls into social gathering failed in the social distancing scenario when shoppers are told that the safest thing they can do is stay in the homes.




Impact of COVID-19 on Brick-and-Mortar Stores


The resulting shocks from the crisis triggered a retail reset, as retailers pivot from planning giant flagships with in-store experiences, to invest in better online experiences to be prepared for the next pandemic. The risk in betting on experiences hit last Friday when the American Dream Mall in the New Jersey Meadowlands, the first U.S. mall designed with more square feet devoted to experiences than retail, announced it was shutting down for at least the rest of March. Apart from this, large department stores, such as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have shut down their New York City locations to avoid the large congregations of people usually inside their large spaces spreading the deadly coronavirus.


Other stores that have chosen to scale back activity at their flagship NYC locations include Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. Several of those retailers decided to close down some other stores, too. Hudson Yards, the Manhattan project that also bet big on experiences, opened its new sky-high glass observation deck, The Edge, on March 11, only to announce two days later that it was closed due to the health crisis.  A Coresight Research survey in late February found that 27% of the U.S. consumers were already avoiding public spaces, while 58% said they would avoid them if the outbreak worsened.


Morgan Stanley analysts led by Kimberly Greenberger found that last week’s total retail traffic fell 9.1%, apparel retail traffic fell 3.9%, and luxury retail traffic declined by 14.7%. The second week of March could mean steeper declines. The analysts further noted evidence of consumers pulling back on spending, particularly in brick-and-mortar stores, has implications not only for retail but also for the economy more widely, the analysts noted in their reports.


According to a report published on Fortune magazine, as the pandemic takes hold across America, some businesses are getting crushed, like Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., which closed its doors for at least eight weeks. Others are thriving, like Amazon, which announced 100,000 new hires to help manage the rush of online orders. The pandemic has been a relentless destroyer of brick-and-mortar businesses as public health officials warn against in-person interactions. But the coronavirus is boosting almost anything that can be done online or with minimal human contact.

It stands to reason that, as Behr notes, digital sales will rise as shoppers stay away from physical retail. Pradeep Elankumaran, co-founder and CEO of online grocer Farmstead, told Retail Dive in an email that delivery volume increased more than 30% this week over normal levels, and mostly due to coronavirus concerns as more people work from home and avoid crowds.


Online Trading is the Only Option Left


Deloitte found that 36 percent of consumers expressed interest in purchasing personalized products or services; one in five of those consumers were willing to pay a 20 percent premium on such products and services. In China, consumers are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly demanding personalized products over mass offerings.


Let’s look at the factors that can aid in bringing back the fashion economy back on track:




The most common way of spreading the coronavirus is through human contacts, and that is the primary reason why the physical stores are being shut down. E-commerce trading is the best alternative available to the brands and customers to counter this scenario. The companies can put up their e-catalog on the website and let the consumer choose what to wear.




After offering online clothing lines to the buyer, the manufacturers need to accommodate customization facility on their site. The technology will let the end-users design their clothes and engage in some creative activity. The step is beneficial in two ways; firstly, people are locked-down and looking for opportunities to engage in activities. Secondly, it is profitable, as more people are inclined towards buying customized products. Also, there is no fear of opening a physical store or shutting it down. The company is showing its commitment towards humanity and also making it profitable.


To sum it up, fashion companies need to welcome the era where social distancing and self-isolation are the norms. They need to set up a parallel or a completely new process to survive the hits they suffered due to the COVID-19. iDesigniBuy is a company that works on similar grounds and enables the fashion manufacturers and retailers to remain unmoved during the time of crisis such as this.


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