Uncertainty. The word that would be following fashion industry brands for a post-COVID period. 80% of fashion companies would be in distress after more than 2 months of store closures. Though it would be the time for dealing with a number of challenges, brands who also will think of opportunities will ensure their leading positions. Ecommerce for fashion is a saving buoy. Now, as we’re moving more and more on a digital scape of sales — each fashion brand should learn the optimal ways to manage and distribute product information (to retailers, marketplaces, and within the organization’s departments as well). This is especially important if you remember the fact that every online fashion brand has enormous amounts of product content and loads of attributes and characteristics within each product category. So how are some fashion businesses able to be agile and innovative while others are not?
Fashion industry trends 2020
Operating solely on brick and mortar plane? Let’s see what kind of fashion industry trends emerged during coronavirus lockdown 2020.
Inditex, one of the world’s largest apparel retailers, which holds Zara, experienced troubles this season. The sales went down by 44% to €3.3bn between 1 February and 30 April for the fashion company. And this Wednesday,10 Jun 2020 Zara announced the closing of as many as 1,200 stores worldwide (the Spanish company also owns other fashion brands such as Bershka, Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti). Since now the clothing retailer will be boosting online sales.
Debenhams is asking landlords for a 5-month rent holiday, says The Guardian. The clothing company has already closed 2 stores, and is planning to do so with 28 more during the next year.
The crisis shaken out the weak, making them shut down, embrace M&A (merger & acquisition) activities or go bankrupt. To secure their future, companies must adapt to the new ways of doing business. Recovery after the global lockdowns should be fast, and there’s no better way to do it than with automating business processes.
The specifics of fashion ecommerce. The challenge of managing fashion product information across different channels
Fashion retail industry is a competitive space. Those companies usually have enormous amounts of product data that needs to be managed effectively. Fashion database includes thousands of SKUs and loads of product information with different attributes and characteristics with multitude of colors, sizes, product images, materials, etc.
Organizing effective communication of that kind of content for fashion brands within an organization is a challenge. But it’s not the only one, and surely not the most complex. To strive online, fashion brands are selling all over the marketplaces and other fashion retailers’ websites. How do brands cope with the product content transference to a number of those channels? Each single end-point has its own rules and data formats. So here’s one more question to the agenda: how do fashion brands deliver and syndicate product data to retailers and marketplaces? How can brands notify their resellers’ of the product content updates, so it doesn’t take months? Speed is important here, and manual work couldn’t be valid at any level of product information management processes anymore.
Different scenarios of working with product content. How to decide which one suits best (in terms of technology)
Lots of PIMs used in fashion weren’t designed to meet all the needs of a modern fashion ecommerce business. Here’s how effective brands manage product content internally, as well as across a number of sales channel partners. All to drive sales, deliver product content to retailers and marketplaces, keep up with the difference of data structures, regularly push any content updates, and reduce operational costs.
- Centralized source of product content.
Lots of sellers are still using Excel as a main way to transfer product information to retailers. But big companies don’t have a luxury to spend 2+ weeks on sharing product data to 1 retailer. It is great when one man with the tailor-made product content software can do the job instead of a team of 40 people doing it manually.
Installing software that would deal with all phases of product content management for online fashion brands: from uploading content for fashion from CSP (Content Service Provider) /or creating it on your own/or with ability to add and edit product data, receive the updates from the brands, and push it automatically to retailers or marketplaces. And the ability to add retailer-specific product assets / documents to the product records at any time is still there.
Why Gepard solution is beneficial? Or what does the product content delivery platform will give you?
- Product data is always accurate and updated
- Everything is centralized: manage and update product content from one space.
- Time-to-market is significantly reduced and all content gets to retailers automatically.
- New SKUs are added right away across all channels within one system.
- Products are discoverable within the product catalogs and buyers search queries.
- The number of systems you’re working with are reduced.
- Team can concentrate on solving tasks requiring creativity rather than filling in spreadsheets.
- No need to do coding from the brand's side.
- Brand consistency and image is retained.
- Sales revenue increased.
- Costs for possible mistakes eliminated.
Fashion brands look for a solution for sharing product data that is user-friendly, stable, with no bugs and difficulties. Rightfully though, as it eliminates all the challenges and adds the value, which we were talking about just above.
- Integrate your internal product content management systems with a product delivery software
Why might this solution be beneficial?
If you already have a system, where you store and manage your product data, it is often better to not invent the wheel and crash everything. This is true in case of having a seamless PIM fashion brand is using, DAM, or other CMS (content management system). Simply integrate your working content management platform to product content delivery software.
Though this could lead to disorganized data management. Having multiple sources of truth could create double-standards. So it is important to choose the right product content delivery software that could successfully integrate with your existing product information management system and have a preset integration with content service providers.
- Create your own product content and push it to retailers with product delivery software
Why might this solution be beneficial?
Some fashion brands prefer to take a charge on their own. It is understandable, product content in clothing ecommerce implies developing catchy product images and descriptions. Here’s how top fashion brands create product images for ecommerce websites and product descriptions that sell. Still, an integration with a trusted CSP provides a much more extensive list of necessary characteristics, product id numbers (EAN, MPN), etc. which retailers demand.
Though the question of product information push remains open. Until we remember the benefits of automated product content delivery (aka. syndication) from the previous points.
Now, as even big fashion companies, as Inditex and Debenhams, cannot afford to pay the rent, they move online. The world is and will be mainly digitally driven. Which means: invest in your online presence, use marketplaces and your own ecommerce website. If that sounds like a bunch of work, do not forget that top ecommerce businesses use automation software to cut the time, effort and spendings, as well as product returns. For fashion ecommerce minimizing mistakes in product content is important. Product content delivery takes off the stress of keeping up with product content transfer to a number of sales channel partners (retailers and marketplaces), keeps up with the difference of data structures, regularly pushes any content updates, and reduces operational costs. Easily integrated with any other content management systems and content providers.