Despite facing a development bottleneck, many fast fashion brands still continue to invest in the Chinese market. Embracing the innovative transformation for retail model will be one of the solutions.
Presently, Uniqlo is the best performing fast fashion brand in ecommerce.
In 2009, Uniqlo have opened an online store in Tmall, beginning its ecommerce journey.
In July of 2017, Uniqlo begun promoting in hundreds of their locations of their new “Smart Buyer” technology, increasing the conversion rate by 15%. In the double 11 (November 11) period in 2017, Uniqlo begun executing their “Shop online, pick up in store in 24 hours” services, where consumers can also enjoy the offline customer service when picking up, such as exchanging colors, sizes, and tailor services for free.
The innovative retail services have greatly benefited Uniqlo where sales have reached one billion RMB in little less than a minute during the double 11. Within that year, the e-commerce sale of Uniqlo have accounted for 10% of the total sales, reaching 20.6 billion RMB, which is nearly ¼ of the total sales of H&M in an entire year.
The e-commerce aspect solved a portion of the sales performance and inventory concerns for Uniqlo, but e-commerce also requires additional expenses and the management skills, as well as cooperation of a brand.
New Product Line
On the journey of rebranding, many fast fashion brands continue to launch new product lines.
For example, after H&M have launched two high-end product line in 2017 called “COS” and “ARKET”, H&M also officially launched their 9th brand, Nyden in 2018. Nyden is focused on collaborations with KOL releasing limited edition or exclusive products targeting the millennial consumers.
The developing clothing line for children in GAP have opened their first retail store with the children product line in Hangzhou, with new releases every two to three weeks provided by the U.S. design team.
The international fast fashion brands in China realizes the rapid development stage has ended, and the solution to prevent their business from going downhill in China is to market different brands, style, products and strategies into the Chinese market to stand out within the industry, while reaching out to a variety of audiences. However, only time will tell the effectiveness of their workings.
Improved In-store Experience
After the impact of fast fashion on e-commerce, fast fashion brands with retail stores are beginning to take notice of the offline experience.
Take Zara as an example, the interior design of their location opened in Shenzhen and Shanghai have changed drastically. The overall atmosphere is bright, simply, with unique furniture pieces, fragrance counter, and fitting room for the children section to enhance the shopping experience of the consumers.
C&A on the other hand have incorporated green retailing factors into their new location, emphasizing the environment, with larger fitting rooms, an new resting and charging area to elevate the customer experience.
There are also retail stores that has attained virtual fitting technology using LED displays, such as GAP and Uniqlo, attracting more traffic into the store, while providing consumers with a new type of experience.
Where Will Fast Fashion Lead To In China?
Since the start of 2017, the competition between fast fashion brands in the Chinese market have entered its stages. The period where international fast fashion brands such as H&M, Zara dominating the market is now over, with fresh new brands surging in.
One of the reasons for the change in the fast fashion industry is due to the changes in consumers. Brands have to consistently keep their audiences interested and loyal to your brand, and this can be easily influenced by the demands to increase brand and product recognition. Thus, the sacrifice of quality for fast releases is unnecessary as the Chinese consumers are more willing to make quality purchases over quantity purchases.
Another reason is due to the maturation of the fast fashion brands in the first-tier cities in China. Rather than focusing on the expansion into the third and fourth tier cities, brands must focus on improving the shopping experiences of their retail stores to create unique and impactful experiences to consumers.
Lastly, with most of the manufacture lines in China, the cloth dyeing process technology in China is now well surpassing all other countries, thus the effects of keeping the production line domestically will improve the effectiveness and expenses for shipment for brands.
There will be competition in any business industry, but to know the demands of consumers with an open-mindedness for new and creative strategies to meet the demands is the best philosophy for fast fashion brands, or any brand in general.
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