Prepare your Business to Bounce Back after Coronavirus
Right now, the fashion industry has come to a standstill. Trade shows have been cancelled, stores are closed, online sales have stagnated and, understandably, many businesses are wondering how they will survive this downturn in our collective fortunes.
It's important to remember that, however devastating the current crisis may seem, it is finite and will come to an end. The return to normality may be slower than many of us would like, as the hit to consumers' personal economies will inevitably mean that non-essential goods are lower down on the list of purchase priorities. However, the #whenthisisover hashtag trending on social media goes to show that consumers are already planning for more positive times ahead, and feel-good purchases like fashion and accessories are bound to pick up as they acompany the return to vacations, parties and family events.
So how can you make sure that your fashion business is ready to bounce back #whenthisisover? Here are a few ideas for how to prepare your brand for better days:
Build your social media presence
Social media is a lifeline for many people stuck at home, isolated from friends and families. It's now that your brand can really connect with your customers, and even bring onboard new followers who may not be ready to buy right now, but who could become a loyal customer base in the future. Bear in mind, this is not the time for aggressive product pushing - instead reach out to your customers on a more human level. Offer advice, offer support, offer a friendly face. Bring some joy to your audience's lives and when the time comes they will repay you.
Consumers have a long memory, and how you act in this time of crisis may be the making or breaking of your business. If you are able to support the fight against coronavirus in any way, your customers will thank you for it. Some major fashion brands are repurposing their factories to sew face masks for hospital staff, while others are offering donations from every item sold. It doesn't have to be a huge gesture, perhaps you can come up with an original way of helping health professionals, or the vulnerable in your community. If there was ever a time to offer solidarity, now is that time.
As people are no longer able to get to bricks and mortar stores, so e-commerce is becoming a necessity in our day-to-day lives. At the moment, the major growth has been seen unsurprisingly, in essential goods like food and farmaceutical items. However, the increase in online buying habits is likely to continue well after the high street opens again. Now is the time to look at your e-tail channels, particularly taking advantages of omni-channel retail and B2B marketplaces which are becoming ever more popular as buyers compare and contrast offers from trusted online “shopping malls”.
Organise your finances
It's vital to make sure you have a tight control of your finances during times of restricted income. Contact your suppliers and service providers to work out payment plans, reduce unnecessary costs, and plan ahead. If possible, invest in those things that will increase your brand recognition (see the points above!) and budget for a few lean months.
Support your suppliers
While budgeting is important, if we simply cancel orders and subscriptions we may find that when all this is over our suppliers are no longer available for us to go back to. Remember that we're all in this together. Rather than cancelling an order, perhaps we can space it out over a more extended period? Work together with suppliers to organise restocking plans over the coming months.
Stay on top of trends
It's still early days to predict how the current crisis will affect fashion industry trends, although early commentators have suggested that a move to less flamboyant designs is likely, as consumers will want less ostentatious fashion in times of financial crisis. Plus, with home-working becoming a reality which is likely to extend beyond the current lock-down, comfort will play an important part in style considerations. Make sure you keep your finger on the pulse of the fashion news, you may want to adapt your product offering accordingly.
Use your time wisely
It's easy to become disheartened in times of professional, financial and personal stress. However, as orders slow we have an opportunitiy to work on our businesses in areas that are often neglected in busier times. This crisis will end. We must look to the future to come out the other side stronger than we were before.
At TradeGala we're doing our best to help both fashion brands and retailers through this difficiult time. Registration is free for everyone, and our team are still working hard (from home!) to assist buyers and sellers with help and advice. If you'd like to find out how TradeGala can support your business please contact us
Written by: Amber Domenech Patey