Every week, The Interline rounds up the most vital talking points from across the landscape of fashion technology news. We provide our take on what matters, and why. This roundup is also delivered to Interline Insiders by email.
Shopping’s tentative recovery requires real channel agility.
This week is, of course, Thanksgiving for The Interline’s American readers, and while it’s no doubt an extremely unusual one, there’s every indication that the post-turkey sales juggernaut that is Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) will be similarly outsized this year.
In and of itself, this is a remarkable statistic. At a time of huge uncertainty, the wheels of commerce continue to turn, and here in the UK, despite the release of gloomy GDP news – potentially the worst shortfall in centuries – retail bodies are buoyed by the promise of further support and the potential for a 2021 that returns at least some measure of stability to the industry.
In fact, this week’s news as a whole is a morass of contradictions. UK and international retail group Arcadia (which owns Topshop) is, as of just a few hours ago, teetering on the brink, which contrasts sharply with news that October saw consumer spending rise at the same time that individual income fell. Curious.
Crucially, for our purposes, there are only really two ways to parse this disparity between consumer appetite for shopping and the fact that retailers are continuing to fold.
First: October’s statistics are simply unsustainable, and the drop in real spending power is simply being delayed. This is certainly possible – especially given the conclusion reached by most economists that the worst fiscal impact of the pandemic might not be felt for years.
Second: consumers are going to keep spending, but they’re going to do with retailers that offer better, more compelling, digital experiences. Fresh research from Adobe Digital Insights suggests that holiday spending through eCommerce storefronts could be up to $190 billion, up from $142 billion in 2019. That tracker also provides other fascinating real-time insights into holiday spending, and is well worth a visit.
These two possibilities are also not mutually exclusive. In fact it seems likely that both are true: spending power will decrease in the near future, and the retailers that manage online and multi-channel the best will seize the largest share of what remains.
Consider that statistics released this week show that GAP Inc. saw its eCommerce customer base grow by more than 3 million people in the third quarter of this year, and that Mulberry was able to find double-digit percentage growth through both digital channels and new geographical markets.
And if any further indication of just how necessary it’s becoming to look at retail differently was needed, the growth of predictive analytics and machine learning in selling is now making the mainstream news.
All these stories underline the need for an incredibly agile approach to retail – one that can shift between blended channels quickly, and one that can deliver on both the frontend experience and the backend flexibility that are required to adapt to changing market conditions.
The Interline, with the help of some unique content partners, is going to be examining both of those angles between now and the end of the year.
Sustainability’s impact on profitability and market perception intensifies.
By way of an update into the ongoing enquiry into the supply chain practices of UK manufacturers and the major fast fashion brands that source from them, yesterday saw the announcement that a former High Court Judge has now been appointed to lead an internal ethics review.
This is not something anyone would have expected at the start of the year, and it should be considered an indication of just how seriously the market is now taking sustainability issues. An article published yesterday includes an estimation that one in every three dollars invested in the USA comes with a sustainability requirement attached.
Expect to see much more in the way of both scrutiny and disclosure in 2021.