As the economic crisis deepens due to the pandemic, there is expected to be a sea-change in consumer behaviour. The change in buying behaviour is likely to stay long after the pandemic has subsided. As a fashion retailer who largely depends on in-store sales, how, then, do you adjust to this new normal?
Sales Tips for Small Fashion Retailers: Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic
Deep discounts and flash sales are the most obvious strategies to attract consumer attention. However, there are two problems with the discount strategy. One, almost everyone will be offering discounts on season-specific inventory. In a market saturated with discount sales, it can be difficult to stand out. Two, offering deep discounts in the short-term can change consumer behaviour for the worse, in the long-run.
After the 2008 recession, global fashion retailers resorted to discount wars to lure people back into stores. However, studies suggest that buyers got used to discounts, which meant they hesitated to buy clothes at full price, for the longest time. That trend could return in the post-pandemic world.
As a small fashion retailer, there are smarter ways to lure customers and survive these unprecedented times.
1. Promote membership cards/gift cards
Start a loyalty program. Membership cards and gift cards give you twin benefits – they ensure immediate revenue for your business, which is crucial in current times; and they incentivise buyers to return to your business. Thus, you get more repeat customers. You can get creative with your membership program.
Collaborate with other shop owners in your neighbourhood and bundle benefits. For instance, you could tie-up with a local chemist for discounts on masks and sanitisers. Similarly, you could collaborate with local stationery shops for discounts on books and notebooks. The demographics of your neighbourhood should define the collaborations you go for.
Keep the cost of promotions low. Stick to digital methods of promotion as far as possible. WhatsApp can come in super handy, here. Speak to your local RWA (Residents' Welfare Association) and see if you can include the promotion in their weekly or monthly bulletin.
If you can, skip physical cards, since it is the pandemic season. Opt for digital solutions. There are free software that let you run digital loyalty programs. There might be a learning curve involved, but adapting to the “new normal” is the name of the game.
People aren't walking into stores, right now. Take your inventory to them. Make catalogs and share them on your WhatsApp network. Apartment societies, usually, have native WhatsApp groups that are very active. For old-school neighbourhoods, exploit the WhatsApp networks of your spouse, kids, and friends.
Images of products in your catalog are the key, here. Ask your vendors if they can share high-quality digital images of products that you have bought from them. If they can't, make use of your smartphone's camera. Most smartphones today have good-quality cameras.
Group your catalogs according to product type to make it easy for people to browse through them. For instance, have one catalog for men's shirts and another for women's jeans. Make sure you indicate availability of sizes against each product. And don't forget to offer attractive discounts on popular items to push sales.
Offer convenient home-delivery of purchases and clearly mention your return policy in the catalogs.
Consumer behaviour has moved towards need-based buying, since people have less dispensable income, now. Pivot towards where the market is moving. Stock essential items to pull in customers. For instance, undergarments is a safe category, even during a slowdown. You could also experiment with stocking fashionable masks to cater to a young audience, if that's your neighbourhood demographic.
Steer away from season-specific inventory as much as possible. For example, jeans and basic T-shirts in different collar styles are a safe bet. Use essential items to upsell other inventory. Sweeten the deal with attractive discounts.
4. Make Attractive Bundles
Ecommerce stores use this trick all the time to move more inventory. During this demand slump, you don't want to be sitting on old inventory for too long. Bundle old stock with essentials to generate revenue. You could also bundle different colours of the same item to move more stock, quickly.
5. Reach Out to Loyal Customers
Focus more efforts on customer retention. You have already built a good rapport with existing customers. Leverage that to move inventory. Reach out to them via phone calls, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Give them personalised offers. Include freebies to strengthen the relationship. The idea is to make them feel special, so they keep coming back to you.
In this tough business climate, cashflow management is crucial. At Zilingo, you can order inventory with low MOQs (minimum order quantities). It reduces your upfront capital expenditure, which drastically improves your chances of competing in these tough times. You also get the advantage of comparing vendors from around the country and ordering from the comfort of your home or office.
Check low-priced inventory in essential categories and fresh stock at attractive bulk prices at Zilingo.