Laura Arana looks at how fashion businesses can evolve to thrive in an era where social media is king
A seemingly unending list of fashion bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers and general social media influencers is changing not only the way people dress, but also the way and the speed at which they shop. When it comes to millennials in particular, the rise and rise of social media means that for many fashion brands, social media platforms such as Instagram are slowly but surely replacing traditional advertising as the best way to target both new and existing customers, with a quick search on Instagram revealing 211 million posts for #ootd (‘outfit of the day’, in case you’re wondering) with a staggering 574 million posts featuring #fashion. Over 200 million Instagram users follow at least one fashion account and almost half of British Instagrammers admit to using these accounts as inspiration for looks and outfits.
The ability to see something on several social media accounts, search for it and then purchase it online has inevitably led to more impulsive buying habits, with fashion brands responding to this by creating and curating a strong social media presence with a view to going someway to satisfy this hunger for a quick fashion fix that social media is helping to create. To add to this, major brands are harnessing the power of celebrity social media accounts, with more and more businesses getting celebs on board to showcase their particular fashion ‘edit’, which just so happens to feature several of the season’s key lines from the brands in question.
Faster, fluid fashion
What this all means for fashion manufacturers is faster cycles and less defined, more fluid seasons than ever before. Gone are the days of major fashion houses showing their collections on the catwalk ready to be purchased six months down the line. Many higher end brands are moving to a ‘see now, buy now’ model in a concerted effort to respond to not only how consumers want to shop but also in an attempt to steal a march on the fast fashion businesses who are all too good at replicating high fashion designs at high street prices, at lightning quick speeds.
With all this in mind, fashion manufacturers have no choice but to embrace the ever-increasing speed at which the fashion industry is operating, getting the right products to market in a timely and cost-effective manor, responding to fickle customer tastes and keeping pace with the raft of fashion influencers that appear online on an almost daily basis. To do this, flexibility and agility are key, with a pressing need to streamline processes and procedures across the business to achieve this. For many fashion businesses, the answer lies in having the right systems in place to capitalize on demand, with more and more businesses investing in business management software to optimize their business.
A single solution
By uniting all processes and procedures, from design through to dispatch, fashion manufacturers can bring all business information and data together in one place, vastly improving visibility across the business as well as ensuring business-wide transparency. This helps to easily and quickly identify any problems in production, getting rid of bottlenecks to streamline operations, maximize productivity and ultimately get products to market in less time, fulfilling customer demand and boosting sales.
It’s not just production efficiency that makes a difference but increased levels of business insight too. In-built analytics make sense of the vast amounts of data that are generated by modern businesses, putting information into context and providing real-time access to accurate business insight to underpin better, faster decision-making. This ability to quickly and effectively analyze data speeds up the decision-making process considerably, making for a more agile, responsive business.
Plan for change
By making the most of the digital technologies available to them, fashion manufacturers can exploit their full business potential, automating mundane processes and providing decision-makers with the right information, at the right time, in easy-to-understand formats, for robust, decisive action. With the influence of social media showing no signs of abating when it comes to fashion, the pressure on fashion manufacturers to respond to and even predict changing customer demands is only set to increase. By optimizing all areas of the business with an all-encompassing software solution, fashion manufacturers can keep up with changing demands, trends and styles, bringing the right products to market in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner, keeping customers happy and having a positive effect on profits today and for the foreseeable future.
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