The pandemic and its resulting changes in consumer behavior have reshaped the fashion industry. Supply chain challenges are widespread and have been impactful for fashion brands as they embrace “omni-channel retailing” and try to simultaneously reach global and domestic markets with significant worldwide shipping delays. Inadequate preparation for the consumer’s desire to make D2C purchases has led to distributors being unable to meet demand, frustrating the consumer whose shopping habits have changed significantly.
Small businesses and emerging brands are being hit particularly hard as the current generation of consumers expect scale in product selection, unique offerings, sustainability, mission-driven values and immediate availability. This requires authenticity on behalf of the brands and the ability, via various channels, to have direct conversations with the consumer, all while creating value and solutions to any issues that stem from the supply chain breakdown.
In this environment, consumers are abandoning brands that do not support their core values in favor of those who do. For some consumers, this means identifying with brands that have philanthropic ties, and for others, it is a brand’s full transparency in its products’ lifecycles. The conscious consumer cares not just about price but also about ethical sourcing, sustainability initiatives and responsible packaging and production. The consumer no longer wants to just purchase products from the brand — they want to interact and influence their own digital channels. They want to represent the brand and connect with it on a personal level so that they can have conversations with their communities, ultimately becoming brand ambassadors.
This increasingly complex environment has especially affected small brands that so far have not had the means to optimize their supply chains or invest in aggressive online infrastructures. At the same time, consumers are looking for purpose-driven brands, and small brands have played a key role in representing diversity, sustainability and unique style. But it has been challenging for consumers to find brands they can identify with, who deliver on their core mission claims; while the brands have trouble targeting their ideal consumers, often changing their message which is detrimental to trust between the two.
Even when consumers can discover a brand with a purpose they identify with, brands are still faced with making the right product choices. In a world where supply is difficult and return on investment is key, brands need to understand as early as possible which products resonate most with their customers. Investing in obtaining consumer insights as they happen is crucial. More importantly, these decisions are not static in nature: In a world where personalization has become a major driver of top-line growth and consumer trends are changing rapidly, brands need to be agile. Successful brands also personalize the experience, allowing for a true connection and conversation with their consumers and giving customers the ability to influence their product decisions.
The ultimate way to take the guesswork out of what consumers want is to talk to them and listen carefully to the answers. Gaining insight through conversation on a variety of platforms becomes critical. So, brands are now not only challenged with creating products and addressing supply chain issues, but they are also challenged with creating a strong social media presence where they engage with their communities. What motivates the consumer to discover new brands and not abandon the ones they have already found, is to speak to them where they are. This is where technology can be leveraged to make an immediate impact and rescue the brand.
FashWire, a Seattle-based technology startup, leverages technology to provide consumers an opportunity to discover brands and trends while delivering our 400-plus brand partners from 35-plus counties critical, real-time consumer feedback. This data allows brands to make smarter production decisions to drive conversation, repeat purchases and profitability.
FashWire’s technology is making a significant impact for designers and brands in a challenging supply chain environment, allowing especially smaller brands to not just survive, but succeed. Emerging and established brands can leverage FashWire and its integrated social media capabilities to help them stay relevant through real-time digital engagement while waiting for inventory to be back in stock. The brands also become more discoverable to wider audiences through the company’s global platform, allowing them to generate revenue more easily. This feedback gives consumers a powerful voice in the products they create, making them part of the brand’s direction and identity.
FashWire represents the new way of business, as the company itself is a purpose-driven business. Reducing waste is at the core of our company’s mission, as recognized by winning the Women in Supply Chain Award. Today, up to 30% of new fashion products worth billions of dollars never get sold and end up in landfills. Giving brands actionable insights allows for brands to make smarter production decisions, therefore reducing excess inventory and waste of clothes that do not sell — significantly and positively impacting our environment.
Additionally, FashWire highlights brands with philanthropic-driven partnership and has raised over $100,000 to partnering charities. Philanthropy is part of what we pledge to deliver to brands because giving back is essential to us and to the consumer.
When technology meets purpose, the future for brands will be the rapid progression of meeting consumer needs. Data will be key to employ technologies to ensure consistent brand delivery, ultimately resulting in brand loyalty and profitability.