These Four Trends Are Shaping Fashion Retail

Technavio's latest online fashion retail market in the U.S. report highlights four key emerging trends predicted to impact market growth through 2020. Technavio defines an emerging trend as something that has potential for significant impact on the market and contributes to its growth or decline.

"The online fashion retail market in the US for apparel, footwear, and accessories was valued at close to $92.02 billion in 2015. With e-retailers providing more security features for online payments, free delivery, improved online customer service, and customer-friendly, easy-to-navigate shopping websites, a growing number of consumers are likely to use these portals in the next five years," said Brijesh Kumar Choubey, one of Technavio's lead industry analysts for retail goods and services.

"In 2015, the estimated average online shopping revenue in the US was around $1800, growing at around 19.50 percent. Heavy discounts and end-of-season sales contribute largely to the online fashion retail market," Choubey continued.

Technavio's market research study identifies the following four emerging trends expected to propel the growth of the online fashion retail market in the U.S.:
  • Omnichannel retailing
  • Customization of products
  • Emergence of luxury fashion in online fashion
  • Visual commerce trend
Omnichannel retailing
Omnichannel retailing is fast becoming the norm for many retailers in the U.S. It offers consumers the option to shop and receive merchandise from the channel of their choosing.

Lyn Evans, a top fashion designer, leverages the omnichannel customer engagement strategy. All of this retailer's stores have iPads that display the company website to allow cross-selling of items from other stores. If a customer wants a certain style or color that is not available at her current store location, she can place an order from the store's iPad and get the product delivered from another store. Another fashion retailer, Gap, is developing its omnichannel strategy by integrating its store and digital shopping channels. Some recent omnichannel initiatives include ship-from-store, reserve-in-store, and order-in-store programs.

Customization of products
With personalization emerging as a key concept in fashion retail, major fashion players are allowing buyers to customize products to suit their needs. Footwear brands such as Converse, Joker's Closet, Adidas, Ferragamo, Vans, Nike, Shoes of Prey, and Manolo Blahnik have incorporated mass product customization into their online business models, giving customers the freedom to personalize the shoes they buy. The NikeiD website allows customers to pick the color and pattern of the shoes and shoe laces, and even have a message sewn into the tongue of the shoes. Customers can also share their designs online.

Indochino, based in Boston, is a popular online seller of made-to-order men's wear. Black Lapel is another website where shoppers can provide their measurements and get customized style, fabric and fit. If an item does not fit, Black Lapel will alter it or even remake it at no additional cost.

Emergence of luxury fashion in online fashion
Though late entrants to the online retailing model, luxury brands are now increasingly building their online presence. Brands including Chanel and LVMH's Fendi are now experimenting with online sales. Chanel launched its beauty product e-shop and Fendi launched an e-commerce platform, both in 2015.

In the same year, Net-a-Porter, owned by Richemont, and Yoox, listed on the Milan stock exchange, announced a merger that would result in an entity with combined sales of around $1.5 billion. This will also play an important role in the growth of the market.

Visual commerce trend
There is a rising trend of innovative visualization methods and personalized looks in the fashion e-commerce segment. In 2015, Amazon opened a 46,000-square-foot photography studio with 22 photography bays that will help it create and add more than 500,000 images of clothes to its sites every year, with the ambition of becoming the best place to buy fashion online.

Clozette, a fashion social network, is curating Instagram photos of fashion bloggers and buyers and posting them on its platform for inspiration. Amazon invested in Who What Wear, a popular fashion site that helps customers to shop for celebrity-inspired looks.

Others such as Asos and Burberry are following the same trend. Online fashion house Asos has been working with U.S.-based technology company Olapic to collect user-generated photographs and videos from the web to boost the online shopping experience. Asos uses the software to help organize images it collects as part of its #AsSeenOnMe campaign, encouraging customers to share photos of themselves wearing the retailer's fashion ranges via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Clozette has taken advantage of its curated Instagram OOTD photos by placing a Buy Similar button on every image. Buyers can simply crop the image to focus on the product they want and see what similar ones Clozette has to offer in its shop.