The Post COVID World has made one thing certain; the digital startup ecosystem is here to stay and grow!
By Dhaval Ahir
While the pandemic ensured that every industry saw a transformation within its operating and business strategies, it was the entrepreneurial segment that showed the highest calibre of resilience towards a continuously changing environment to stay afloat and swim against the tide. The Post COVID World has made one thing certain; the digital startup ecosystem is here to stay and grow!
Online fashion is an offshoot of this same trend, and will take on a leadership role, commanding growth in the coming years. The new normal has forced fashion businesses to reinvent their offerings and add features that highlight hygiene and safety for the consumers. Even the purchase basket has matured to include categories that are related to home essentials. This shift was picked up early on by the start-up fraternity to include innovative and creative fashion products. These gained traction by implementing streamlined business models to reflect ease and convenience during the online shopping experience for the consumer.
In bridging the gap between the pre covid growth trends to the slow yet steady trends in the post covid time, businesses and startups exemplified the need to adapt and align their priorities in line with what the consumer needs the most. Startups are rallying around their strengths and looking deep within for strategies to make the most of what is available to them in a post covid environment. Their digital framework has always been a winner for fashion startups and this is going to be pretty evident even as we head to the end of the pandemic. The disruption caused by the pandemic highlighted the impact and influence that digital mediums can play in getting fashion purchases within reach of consumers; all with an added layer of security, comfort and safety of their homes.
Hence, it is no surprise that the digital route is going to be where new businesses will establish themselves in the fashion space and serve the consumers online. Going forward, the gap between online shopping and offline retail is set to widen as concerns of safety and hygiene is set to redefine the entire shopping experience. Most fashion startups have already sensed this concern and are working to bring the best possible digital shopping experience to their growing customer base. Building a prominent digital brand will be key in the post-pandemic years for the growth of fashion startups.
India is like many other markets where customer experience has been gaining focus from purchasing to checking out. The added emphasis on convenient payment options will now be key to ensuring smooth transactions and satisfied customers. With the rise in Indian payment systems that are designed to bring convenience and clarity in digital payments, fashion brands would need to readily adapt this culture to stay relevant in the market. While big brands had always had their online presence in the pre covid times, new and upcoming online brands would need to utilise local talent and designs to boost their fortunes in the digital space.
Preferences for local and sustainable products are already on the rise. This comes at a good time when consumers are concerned for the planet and want safer options to post the pandemic. Climate and environment-conscious shoppers are increasing on the lookout for brands that value sustainability within their product offerings. Online Fashion startups with relevant mission purposes on environment conservation and those that are producing and endorsing nature-based fashion products are hyped to gain popularity and withness increased sales.
One big learning that fashion outfits across the country are now implementing is the focus on home-oriented wearables. With the restrictions of working from home, consumers are now looking for products that are comfortable, stylish and exudes leisure. Since the pandemic, the home has become the centre of daily life; with work and play being blended together with education and exercise under the same roof. Fashion brands would need to focus on segments like athleisure and loungewear products to their line ups and create relevance and recognition in the post-pandemic times. Online brands would do well to engage with traditional aspects of ethnicity and vintage culture within their products.
Established retail outlets faced a big challenge with their unsold inventory during the pandemic. Routing these onto the digital platform to create awareness and introduce fresh designs were some of the strategies that helped brands cross over the tide of the struggling market during the lockdowns. With an increase in the cautious sentiment that is prevalent among consumers, brands need to create multiple platforms for communicating, building trustworthy relationships with customers. With digital mediums and social media platforms creating an added avenue to showcase the inventory, brands should use such opportunities to create comfort and connection with the added convenience enjoyed in pre-covid times.
In bridging the gap post the covid pandemic, communication will be key to enhancing the scope of digital platforms coupled with social media for creating greater interaction between brands and consumers. With the revival of the market now on the horizon, online fashion startup are at an advantage over offline retail stores. This advantage will need further capitalisation to win new followers and convert existing shoppers into promoters. Home essentials and hygiene properties of fabrics (such as masks) are gaining increasing importance.
Fashion startups are indeed well-positioned to capitalise on these opportunities to build a stronger revenue system and be ready to approach the post covid buying boom. Online fashion brands today are creative when it comes to investments and executions, and their digital presence will only boost and strengthen their popularity in the swiftly evolving eco-system. For Fashion Start Ups, the world is indeed their oyster as they bridge the gap between Pre-Covid and Post-Covid fashion trends!
(The author is Co Founder, Veirdo. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)