2020 has turned to be for many of us the year of uncertainty. In fashion, the new normal has brought to the surface the fragility of the current business model and has laid out the increasing need for the industry to digitize the value chain in order to survive. Many are wondering how connections between brands and retailers will evolve. Well-established practices like fashion shows and trade shows are on the spotlight in the wholesale space. For us at HATCH, there’s one question that has kept us up at night: what is the future for fashion wholesale showrooms?
Wholesale showrooms have been key for the growth of fashion brands. However, over the last few years, maybe decades, little has changed in how these sales appointments work. When we first introduced the Digital Showroom for Tommy Hilfiger back in 2014, we recognized the tremendous potential of enhancing appointments through technology and the real benefits that would come from that. Fast forward to 2020 and, with the world slowly opening up, we’re getting a glimpse into the future of wholesale fashion altogether. Here are the 5 ways we saw fashion showrooms change in 2020:
This one gets us really excited. HATCH’s purpose has been to create a new digital paradigm for fashion where sustainability is central. While the concept for 3D design isn’t new, it has now become a saviour for brands to overcome the uncertainties of a COVID-19 world. As a result of this, brands have begun exploring how 3D can help them beyond design, offering high quality digital products that can be used for sales, PR and marketing purposes. As 3D content availability increases, the opportunities grow too: from achieving a sample-less value chain, to simultaneous design and selling, slashing time to market even more. Our friends from STITCH are a living example of what 3D at scale will look like, and we’re working with them to pave the way for a zero-waste fashion industry.
With travel restrictions throughout 2020, brands had to create better and smarter experiences for their customers. B2B webshops became increasingly important to service most of the long tail customers, while brands had to invest in more engaging and curated experiences for their key accounts. While the showroom space may not be available quite yet, the showroom experience will be key to drive commercial value in the long term.
In the past, showrooms provided the main meeting point between sales reps and buyers. With more digital tools available for B2B sales, the human connection that previously characterized the process will be redefined. Guiding key accounts through collections in your showroom space will need to be translated into the digital space. This is why we’ve been working on creating a robust remote selling experience, taking our in-showroom experience into the remote world, helping sales reps and buyers connect despite the (social) distance.
At HATCH, storytelling is a key part of our Digital Showroom experience. The benefits for brands that focus on storytelling are clear: better brand alignment and higher engagement and sales. We call it storyselling. In the digital world, it’s becoming harder than ever to stand out from the competition. With hybrid models emerging (in-showroom and remote appointments) consistency of storytelling will be crucial across channels. Brands had to embrace a stronger digital presence to distinguish themselves from the competition. On the buyer side, this made the difference between the best and the rest as they navigate brands collections through digital linesheets. Our digital value service is specifically designed to help brands create better collection stories through content.
If anything is certain in these uncertain times, it is that data will overtake samples on the priority list for brands. Brands gathered more information and insights to create better collections and drive higher ROI. Wholesale customers became more data-informed, measuring the impact of every euro spent in times where cash flow has plummeted.
Fashion wholesale is not going away: instead, it is undergoing a massive renovation. Now is the time for fashion brands to reset, rewrite and reforge the rules of the industry and use digitization to become better, smarter and more sustainable. Changes like this can be daunting, but rest assured, there are proven ways to go about it.
True digital transformation depends on users, teams & companies embracing new ideas, leveraging technology to find new ways of working. If there is one piece of advice we can give you it is this: think big, start small. Keep the big picture in mind, yet break down the challenge into smaller steps. This will minimize risks and give you space to refine your strategy.
What do you think will impact fashion showrooms in 2021? Learn how wholesale showrooms are evolving in 2021 and get your investment right!