Fashion is a subjective and a relatively new business, especially in India. Having an over populated country is both a boon and a bane to the fashion industry. There are more customers to serve but the choices and taste vary so drastically that it is not always easy to satisfy your customers with the option you have to offer. Increasing number of millionaires and HNIs in the country is definitely a positive prelude to a bright future for luxury fashion labels. Few essentials that you should consider in any fashion business, from my experience of over a decade in the industry are listed below.
Supply chain management is the biggest challenge fashion business faces. Fashion has a very short shelf life and is ever evolving. You always have to be on a tight-rope to keep churning out options to your customers. From creating a new collection to shooting and launching it in stores, it is an elaborate process, which makes it difficult to keep updating the collection rapidly. Giants such as Zara work on the principle that from conceptualization to having the collection in store only takes fifteen days in total. This approach gives you an added advantage in staying ahead of the competition and also keeps your collection fresh.
Being on the same platform as your customers are essential, be it online or retail stores. With the expanding reach of fashion, it is not easy to keep a track on customers and be available for them is not always easy. Which is where e-commerce has an edge over the retail store, but the hands on experience and enigma of shopping at retail stores cannot be neglected either, making it important for fashion brands to be available online and in stores where their customers can experience the exclusivity of a fashion store.
Keeping up with the committed standards is important for any business, and even more so in the fashion industry. My aim is to deliver the three Fs of fashion each time, Fabric, Fit, and Finish. These are the three essentials for any fashion label and if your customers are satisfied with these, they will always be loyal to the brand.
You always have to stay up to date with the latest trends and fashion. Each collection should be in sync with the current trends of the season and should also reflect the personal taste and interpretation of the designer through the stylistic identity. This sets your collection apart from the other labels and will always have that signature style your audience follows you for.
Seamless service is another very important factor in the fashion industry. Many times people want to get something designed for them for some occasion or event, the last thing they want is to face any last minute hassles with their deliveries. You have to be honest with your customers and respect deadlines to sustain in the fashion industry. Customers need to trust you with designs, fits, and services to be your loyal patrons.
Customers are the key to any business, but for fashion where word of mouth is so valuable, it becomes even more important to maintain a healthy dialogue and relation with the customers. This makes a good CRM (Customer Relation Management) very helpful. As they say, it is easier to retain a customer than make a new one. Hence any fashion labels should find innovative ways to increase CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) by offering them regular discounts, vouchers, and special festive collections to keep them engaged.