For fashion houses, success depends not only on how quickly they can ship new and trendy products to retailers, but also how well they can promote new styles across their website, email database, social media and other key channels. The accelerated velocity and global nature of the fashion industry mandates that retailers must accelerate the velocity of their global digital marketing efforts, too.
Most retail executives are familiar with the four P’s of marketing success — Price, Product, Promotion and Place. With e-commerce revenues expected to grow to $712.9 billion by 2022, e-commerce executives ought to consider another critical factor: pace.
According to research and consulting firm Fung Global Retail & Technology, the digital revolution has expedited the fashion design process exponentially, with some companies bringing products from concept to closet in as little as one or two weeks. Take for example fast-fashion innovator Zara. Today the brand launches more than 20 collections annually and delivers new products at least twice a week.
Zara’s e-commerce strategy has seen revenues surge 41 percent in its most recent fiscal year, with its websites attracting more than 10 million visits a day across the 47 markets where it has an online presence. Eschewing television ads and traditional marketing, the retailer relies on product-focused content across several social media channels, in more than 20 different languages, to drive demand.
Technology to fashion a speedy delivery
Providing an in-language shopping experience is key to maintaining brand integrity across all markets and regions — ultimately creating a seamless and cohesive buying experience for customers regardless of their location or language preferences. It’s also key to ringing up sales: recent data shows 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product where the description is in their own language.
Fashion retailers must aspire to support experiences that are both appealing and appropriate to customers in each region, and as engaging and compelling as possible. This goes beyond adjusting for regional specifics such as currencies, to ensure that product descriptions, calls to action and imagery are sensitive to cultural nuances. It is also vital that the fashion brand’s message, style and core company values are accuractly conveyed across all communication channels.
Given the unique global demand and the velocity of the fashion sector — with new products being added daily — content needs to be refreshed continuously. So, too does translation, which should take place in rapid “fashion” as well.
In these digitally disruptive times, retailers have prioritized investments in technology to compress “runway to rack” timelines. However, technology also provides tremendous opportunity to compress timelines for global content delivery — fashion’s digital packaging — to expedite language translation across every medium used to promote products.
Technology is making global content delivery faster, easier and less costly than ever before. Retailers are already taking advantage of cloud-based software platforms, which can simplify and streamline translation by eliminating 90 percent of the manual processes and costs.
These platforms also support the scalability needed by today’s global retail enterprises, supporting the synchronization of linguists translating hundreds of thousands of words around the clock and around the globe. And as new and exciting emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning evolve, these platforms will support both human and robotic resources — all working in tandem — to deliver global content en masse and at scale.
Moreover, the combination of process automation and intelligent collaboration centralizes global content, promoting visibility and control, while accelerating critical time-to-market.
Retailers aren’t just selling products that fit in a box or hang on a hanger, they are also “selling” the lifestyle around those products — and this too, must meet the fast-moving nature of the fashion industry to satisfy the demands of a global consumer base that craves the latest trends … with fast-fashioned experiences.
Kunal Sarda is the vice president of Language Services for Smartling, Inc. He joined Smartling in 2016 via the acquisition of his business, VerbalizeIt. Prior to founding VerbalizeIt, Kunal worked as a management consultant, and helped guide global commercial strategy for early stage and Fortune 500 companies. He holds a masters’ degree in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.