The COVID-19-induced lockdowns have offered Indian fashion and lifestyle brands an unprecedented opportunity to increase their share in the online fashion space. These brands can increase their revenues either through e-commerce marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon, or by establishing their own websites or apps.
Presence on marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart enables brands to not only widen their customer reach but also reduce their lower upfront investments in technology and team. However, since the last few months, brands selling on such marketplaces have seen their profits eroding faster as they have to not only shouldered customer discounts but also increased investments in marketing and become accountable for returns. However, these brands cannot simply pull away from marketplaces as their offline mindset, inadequate capability building and inability to fund early losses make maintaining brand websites challenging.
Clear segregation of roles for online success
Hence, to succeed in their online operations, brands need to clearly define the role of each of their online channels and allocate investments accordingly. They should focus on brand websites for launching fresh merchandise, exclusive assortment and customizations. They should also segregate their e-commerce partners based on importance and plan investments accordingly. Launching collections exclusively for online marketplaces can help attract more customers and avoid conflict with offline channels. Brands can also customize their collections as per marketplace requirements.
Right ecosystem for cost optimization
Urging offline customers to go online can help brands optimize their acquisition costs. Brands can also improve customer retention by launching omni-channel loyalty programs. Their investments in platform specific marketing initiatives can help to subsidize costs, gain speed to market and build a competitive product. Therefore, brands should build the right ecosystem of partners across technology development, digital marketing, omni-channel implementation and cataloging, analytics areas. They should invest in relationship managers that conduct Joint Business Planning (JPB) exercises with marketplaces.
Unified customer and inventory view for superior experience
It is important for brands to develop a single view of their customers across channels to offer a customized and superior omni-channel experience. For this they need to engage into frequent A/B testing on both online and offline channels. They should also deploy web crawling to capture competitor data around assortment, pricing etc. which in turn can be used to drive interventions on both brand websites and marketplaces.
They should also build a single view of inventory across all channels and fulfillment points. Extend their omni-channel services like the option of shipping from nearest store on Myntra, listing own EBO with accurate information of product availability, delivery time etc, across their own websites and marketplaces. Brands that get these fundamentals right are most likely to succeed in a post-COVID world.