Fast Fashion’s Impact on Luxury Commerce

| By: Michael Harvey

Fast fashion has steadily been changing the face of retail. As these low-price brands transform consumer’s expectations and buying behavior, the impact becomes far-reaching, even affecting the business of luxury fashion brands.

It’s no secret that digital commerce has disrupted retail. As of 2013, more than 41% of global internet users made at least one purchase online. 55% of time spent with online retail happened on mobile devices, and a 14.3% lift in percentage of retail sales year over year can be attributed to ecommerce.

Ecommerce has become such a requirement that even luxury brands, whose cultures tend to heavily favor preserving exclusivity and not being easily accessible to all, have adopted digital commerce elements into their online and in store customer experiences. Chanel, for example, already sells its fragrance, makeup and skincare lines online, and is expected to launch a full ecommerce store in 2016.

Because customers are constantly connected, they have the ability to interact with brands, research, and make purchases from home or on the go. In turn, brands and retailers are increasingly investing more in ecommerce and omni-commerce operations. In the past two decades, while digital commerce was disrupting the retail industry, so was fast fashion. Fast fashion offers customers some key elements in the shopping experience:

  • Availability & ubiquity
  • High variety & turnover
  • Low commitment
  • Mass exclusivity
  • Ease & convenience
  • Gratification, or “happiness in shopping”

 

Arguably, since these elements are consistently offered, customers have grown to expect them. For instance, think of how frustrating it can be to discover there isn’t an H&M nearby, or how annoying it is to re-enter TopShop after a month and not see new styles or displays. Some of these expectations are negotiable. It may not necessarily be low prices a customer wants, as much as it is having some gratification in shopping. And it may not be trend pieces, as much as it is having access to high fashion styles, quickly. In any case, these expectations have transcended fast fashion and made their way into luxury brands.

It can of course be more difficult for high-end labels to meet these requirements. Luckily, having an optimized digital commerce operation can help fulfill some of these expectations. The following are examples of luxury brands that have utilized their digital strategy to bring these elements of fast fashion to their customers.

Availability & Ubiquity

Tom Ford runs their ecommerce operation on the Demandware platform, and offers a responsive design that caters to mobile users. This brand provides availability and ubiquity by offering a find-in-store option and same-day delivery option on the product detail page.

High Variety & Turnover

ChristianLouboutin.com, on the Magento platform, offers new featured landing pages and collections at least once per month. There is always something new for customers to look at and desire on the site, showcasing the high variety of products.

Low Commitment

There is a low commitment level to fast fashion (i.e. “if I decide tomorrow I don’t like it, it’s okay because it was so cheap anyway”). Although luxury brands are not cheap, they can use other methods to reduce the perceived commitment level. Michael Kors offers free shipping on both orders and returns. Another example is Rent the Runway, which offers an unlimited monthly membership that allows users to access hundreds of designer pieces. A third instance comes from Eileen Fisher, a Corra client. This brand’s new site will run on Magento and provide a ship to store and in-store pick up functionality.

Mass Exclusivity

For their Autumn/Winter 2013 collection, Burberry released the “runway made to order” concept. This allowed customers to use mobile devices to purchase items directly from the runway that would be custom-made for them. This made exclusive runway pieces available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet.

Ease & Convenience

Fast fashion chains are so plentiful, it’s incredibly convenient to shop from those store locations. Worth New York brings ease and convenience to another level. Their personal stylists bring shopping right into customers living rooms, and it’s all powered by the mobile experience.

Gratification, or “Happiness in Shopping”

While it may be gratifying for fast fashion customers to feel like they got a great deal or found a trendy piece, high-end brands can use other methods to create that happiness in shopping. Zady.com puts their mission statement of sustainability at the forefront of the digital experience, helping shoppers feel good about supporting a cause. ABC Home uses inspirational storytelling elements that paint their products as part of a lifestyle that the customer feels good about aspiring to.

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Michael Harvey is Head of Strategy and Chief Operating Officer at Corra, a New York, Los Angeles and London based digital commerce agency creating unified commerce experiences for fashion, lifestyle and beauty. With a team of 100+ ecommerce strategy, design and technology professionals, Corra delivers rich shopping and buying experiences across all channels and devices. Corra is trusted by retailers of all sizes to implement and support the Magento Enterprise, Demandware and hybris platforms.