As the world eases the lockdown, the fashion retailers are closing, watching the trends and expectations of their customers before they entirely reopen their stores. The recent turn of events has drastically impacted consumer behavior. It raises one of the biggest questions: whether consumers will continue to buy them online at the same scale they were buying during the pandemic. However, if the statistics provided by Amazon are to be believed, the trend for ecommerce will dominate the fashion industry for more years to come. Besides, using technology can help brands flock back their consumers to in-person shopping experiences by reopening their brick-and-mortar stores. Custom shoe designing enables works on similar lines and enables brands to blur the lines between physical and online stores, and allows customers to design their footwear freely. The customized solution is the leading name in the fashion-tech sector that helps footwear manufacturers and retailers to use advanced technological solutions and cloud-based business models and adapt to evolving competition and consumer behavior in the post-pandemic experience economy.
Shoe Designer Online Offers Solutions to Scale-up in the Online Footwear World
We have seen in the last year that many retailers and manufacturers had to rewrite their playbooks as the coronavirus generated an unprecedented strain on many brands’ warehouses and logistics networks. With the supply chain completely dismantled, the luxury fashion industry has to look for alternatives that will help to stream through these tough times and foresee the emerging trends and behavior. Many brands moved to the online space and adopted solutions that enabled them to become more fluid and better align their supply chains and shipping capacity with the rise of online shopping during the pandemic. The fluctuating policies and dates for massive reopenings in the physical stores needed more planning for the production and logistics with supply chain partners to match the demand. And the traditional business model was no match for the situations all fashion houses were witnessing. Many industries ran into a crunch to get components when demand picked up. An example of that is the global chip shortage which impacts several consumer products, including personal computers and phones. In addition, distribution partners, such as Amazon, needed to increase their warehouse and shipping network to fulfil their promise of fast delivery to customers.
In such scenarios, IT solutions, such as cloud technology and automation, came to the rescue for footwear brands and enabled them to respond to the market demands and adapt supply chains more quickly. According to McKinsey, companies that have adopted cloud platforms can bring new capabilities about 20 to 40 per cent faster to market and make scalability more efficient. In fact, these figures were second by other leading names in the ecommerce industry including, Alibaba‘s Singles Day, the world’ largest shopping event, which lasted eleven days in 2020, setting a new record with $115 billion in sales. Moreover, Amazon scheduled its sales event one month earlier at a time when some markets, including the United States, are reopening.
From the facts mentioned above, it is evident that the online market will continue to dominate the fashion industry, and therefore, brands must adopt novel strategies that will help them flourish in it. Let us look at the various strategies that shoe manufacturers and retailers adopted to stand tall even during the crisis.
Here are new evolved business practices that allow brands to increase their customer reach and flourish in the footwear market:
- More Try-Before-You-Buy
The online trial room is not a new concept in the fashion industry, and in the past few years, many brands have been leveraging these concepts to accelerate their journey towards an intelligent enterprise. These solutions enable them to become more resilient, agile, and sustainable using the latest technologies, such as the cloud. Using these cloud-based infrastructures enables retailers to rebuild and expand their direct-to-consumer online shops and decrease their dependency on physical store sales and boost their margins. Many other bigshots, such as Walmart, Best Buy, and Target, use these technologies to initiate sales operations and coincide and compete withAmazon Prime Day. These solutions empower enough room to act faster and capitalize on the opportunity to deal with their customers directly and tell them about their stores and new collections. Virtual Reality (V.R.V.R.) and Augmented Reality (A.R.A.R.) allows them to interact with their customers transparently. Additionally, the use of the A.R.A.R. and 3D has reached beyond allowing brands to preview purchases and takes store closures catapulted it to a new level.
In the past, the upsurge in online sales also meant that there would be an increase in the return ratio. However, the onset of technologies, such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and others, have enabled brands to crop the unnecessary costs and allow them to enhance their shopping experience. These new solutions allow their customers to look for products that perfectly fit them and fulfil their desires. The virtual “try-before-you-buy” offers experiences that can be applied to a wide range of products and across channels, such as apps, websites, and social media. Users can now preview their products in a real-life situation and accordingly decide whether they want to go ahead with it or not, thus reducing the cart abandonment ratio. Also, such innovations help them to identify the brand that suits their lifestyle and can deliver their promises. Let us consider the case of a sustainable shoe and apparel company Allbirds, which launched its shopping app to allow consumers to try on different styles and make them aware of its sustainability mission. Shoppers can vote where Allbirds should invest in offsetting carbon emissions to drives emissions towards zero.
- Build Sustainable Solutions for Better Retail Experiences
Many brands view the reopening of the market as the watershed moment for ecommerce. It is anticipated by many in the U.S.U.S. market that the ease in the restriction will negatively impact retail sales. According to theU.S.U.S. Census Bureau, it is observed that by the end of May this year, the sale fell by 1.3 per cent, and this shift has been observed due to transition in the spending culture with more Americans prioritizing services over goods, and therefore, they are more interested in vacations and restaurants. However, with ecommerce gaining its foothold in the other parts of the world, the online marketplace is observed to continue to flourish, and buyers who are not confined to online shopping sites anymore will continue to use e-commerce sites at the same level in the future. But this can’t be achieved through the magic wand, and brands have to provide exceptional online shopping experiences, such as try-before-you-buy, responsive customer service remains key differentiators and fast delivery. But we have reached a tipping point to shift the retail industry into a circular business model.
According to a recent survey conducted byAccenture revealed that 67 per cent of consumers opt for more environmentally friendly e, ethical, and sustainable products. For secondhand shopping and online thrifting, many leading brands, such as thredUP, Depop, Humana, and Thrift+. In fact, an increasing number of retailers and brands have made their mission to become zero-emission producing labels and reduce landfills with recycling programs. The recent technological innovations are helping brands to move to a circular business and offer products that people care for. Digital supply chains connected by the cloud supported by intelligent technologies enable retailers to make business processes more transparent, such as sourcing materials and ingredients and end-of-life handling.
As per a study by theMPI Group, fashion brands have more scope of improving the customer experience and satisfaction by more than 82 per cent, given they run the highly resilient supply chain. The ability to track their environmental, social, and economic impact across the supply chain and entire business networks will become the key differentiator in the recovery. Moreover, it is undeniable that the retail industry is evolving quickly and swiftly, and sometimes unpredictable technological innovations can help brands pave the sustainable path and provide a resilient business model that allows buyers to gain an exceptional customer experience and become more responsible while purchasing products.
Similarly,WAYZ, a Portuguese footwear brand, manufactures sneakers using solely local producers and ethical factories that source eco-materials. The brand, which stands for Wave At Your Zest for Life, is fully transparent about how its products are made by whom, where, and what. Additionally, a leading brand in the footwear industry, Clarks has debuted a vegan version of its classic shoes that includes the iconic Wallabee style, featuring vegan-friendly uppers, linings, and natural rubber crepe soles. The material is meant to mimic suede but with a considerably less environmental impact. It is well-known to the world that many brands have in the past used toxic tanning agents that leak into wastewater. And its other features that consist of soles and linings are often produced using plastic-based components of virgin, fossil-fuel-based materials. Also, the trimmings often discarded that result from the mold-injection process. These malpractices have put the footwear in a bad spot, and hence, there is a quick need to fix the issues or else like the fast-fashion, the cheaply produced footwear will also consume the entire environment. The low-quality level results in a shorter product life of the shoes, which causes problems to the planet. However, a new era of sustainable footwear is shaking up the sneaker market with innovative fabrics, circular production and high-quality craftsmanship.
Moreover, the demand by many footwear fans has been to own ethical sneakers since the easing of the pandemic restrictions at the start of 2021, especially in the men’s footwear market. Consequently, more bands are introducing eco-friendly products that can help them to tap on the latest customer demands. The recent brand to join the league is Vans, unveiling a more sustainable approach to its everyday classic shoes with its new Eco Theory collection. It aims to reimagine the iconic silhouettes that comprise natural rubber and water-based inks. The new collection resonates with the evolution of Vans that has been on its toes to be more responsible when it comes to using sourced materials across styles, including classics like Old Skool Decon and the Sk8-Hi Tapered.
The latest collection by Vans uses water-based inks and dyes to produce four neutral colourways, including its signature checkerboard print in pastel pink and beige and white and blue options. The sustainable Old Skool Decon features a canvas upper made with 100 per cent organically grown cotton. At the same time, the outsole is made from an all-new responsibly sourced natural rubber instead of petroleum-derived rubber, derived from tree farms that follow ethical and sustainable practices to minimize harm to the ecosystem. In addition, the laces have been crafted from natural jute fibre, while a natural cork top sheet finishes the footbed, and the whole trainer is held together with water-based glues. Vans Eco Theory collection also includes the Sk8-Hi Tapered and Authentic in the same range of colourways as well as black/natural.
Likewise, the 3D shoe design online offers customization solutions to brands that allow them to tower their brand image through customization solutions along with digital features.O-singuliers is an Italian shoe designer company which has a variety of shoes for people. The tool allows the customer to customize their select shoe at various predefined positions for customization. The user can select the fabric and accordingly choose the available color for customization. It can customize various parts of the shoes like the side upper, back strip. The user can give a finishing look to his shoes by selecting the lace type, stitching material, and soles. Last but not least, can set the initial/ text/ drawing on the shoe by selecting the shoe’s size.
- Work Towards Community Betterment
It is said that whatever we earn belongs to nature and community, and whatever one could do to pay it back should do it. In fact, we have seen that brands that have stood by the community and helped their consumers have backed people who were in crisis during their tough days. Therefore, brands must always seize the opportunity they get to do good for their community. In recent times, we have seen how brands have used every chance to prove to their customers that they are not just about business; they also have many social responsibilities and are willing to fulfil them. For example, a Finnish sustainable sneaker start-up, Rens, which makes shoes made from coffee grounds, is looking to raise 1 million U.S.U.S. dollars with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the manufacture of its new Nomad shoe, which represents a revolution in eco-design. Its founders Jesse Tran and Son Chris, are leading names in the footwear industry who use recycled materials in performance shoes. The Nomad’s latest iteration is constructed from a composite material made from recycled coffee grounds and recycled plastic, utilizing recycled products and by-products.
This time around, the start-up aims to become Finland’s biggest Kickstarter to date, with a target of 1 million U.S.U.S. dollars, which will be used to manufacture and distribute the shoes. Launching Kickstarter aims to put the customer first as it allows them to give real-time feedback. Besides, by pledging directly to the manufacturing units, the brand can “drastically” cut down on factory overrun, production waste, and transportation emissions.
Nonetheless, joining forces with other powerful footwear giants can also help brands expand their business and reach out to the earlier tapped customers. Abercrombie & Fitch is working on this notion is Abercrombie & Fitch, a pioneer in the lifestyle industry and is set to expand its distribution by partnering with Zappos.com for its footwear. This Monday, the brand’s merchandise for women and kids will officially launch on Zappos.com. However, an assortment of products at present is available through the e-commerce footwear retailer. Zappos and Abercrombie have also launched an exclusive collaboration of women’s boots, sneakers, and heels. The ecommerce platform owned by Amazon will allow the brand to spotlight its new footwear offerings that were designed to coordinate with the denim offerings. Zappos is now the only retailer selling Abercrombie & Fitch merchandise in the U.S.U.S. Overseas. Abercrombie’s other retail partners include Asos, About You, Boozt, Next, The Iconic, Tmall, and Zalora. Amazon.com owns Zappos as of 2009. They are reputable for their expedited delivery and 24/7 customer service.
- Invest in Timeless Fashion Trends
Fashion is synonymous with change, and those who are reluctant to change fade away with time; however, certain trends remain immortal, and one such trend is cowboy shoes. We all have been observant of the western inspiration, and the fashion that this part of the world has offered has stuck with people and would continue to stay. The footwear industry seems particularly keen on trends nodding to Americana and cowboy-inspired designs; though many attempts have been made in the direction to tweak the American style, many brands failed miserably at this. Boots are the style of choice for many brands – whether they come as flats, with low or high heels. There’s a wide variety of designs to choose from, from low-key, sleek everyday boots to ones that’ll challenge your western style. Several brands, such as Ralph Lauren, these western-inspired boots are a part of their legacy, and they will always remain classy; it might be a surefire way to complete a total-black look or complement wardrobe staples such as a white T-shirt or blue denim.
This year, we have witnessed many runways showcasing cowboy boots in their collections, whether for Autumn-Winter 2021, Resort or Spring-Summer 2022. Interestingly, at Céline, we’ve seen elegant white santiags for men and knee-high black versions for women, while designer Isabel Marant displayed her iconic western ankle boots in shiny black leather paired with see-through knits. A sleek matte option was spotted at Armani Exchange – paired with oversized white jeans – and Antonio Marras featured a total look finished with tan low-heel santiags. Ermanno Scervino was more fashion-forward, presenting a pair of electric blue boots with stud details, while Diesel opted for a navy blue version.
The Ball is in Your Court-
To sum up the blog, it would be appropriate to assume that trends and expectations in the fashion industry change faster than any other sector. Brands always have to be on their toes to look for the opportunities that help them adhere to these changes. The shoe design software by iDesigniBuy enables brands to capitalize on the current trends and offers robust business solutions to the footwear manufacturers and retailers that allow them to foresee the trends and accordingly mold their business models. Its digital features allow companies to let their customers freely design their pair of funky shoes, establish transparency to initiate sustainable efforts and adopt measures that will spur their online presence.
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