The Indian eCommerce market has witnessed a phenomenal ~2x surge in sales, particularly in the festive season that began in September end and lasted well into October 2022. According to a RedSeer report, this is a 25% YoY growth compared to 2021 with 64% of shoppers found to reside in Tier II and III cities. Fashion eCommerce trends have seen the sector leading the growth especially in unbranded fashion sales in Tier II cities, where every 1 out of 5 orders was for Sari or Kurti materials.
Shoppers that have lived through the Corona pandemic have become accustomed to the options, flexibility, convenience, simplicity and quickness that online shopping offers which has encouraged many D2C clothing brands. These brands have started automating verticals such as design, sales, customer service and logistics to improve brand recall and differentiate themselves in the market. Adopting an omnichannel approach and extending it beyond metropolitan cities are enabling brands to unlock the business potential in such smaller towns and cities.
In this post, we’ll examine emerging fashion eCommerce trends in the D2C space.
How Has the Spotlight Shifted to the Indian Fashion D2C Space?
The last two years have impacted the average buyer’s shopping preferences to such an extent that a primary chunk of shopping is online. Consequently, a greater number of brick and mortar stores are maintaining websites to boost their presence and diversify their sales channels. The beauty of an omnichannel strategy lies in a brand being able to capture what their target audience wants and needs no matter how their buyer journey began.
After consumer electronics, fashion is the second largest category that contributes nearly 25% to the total eCommerce industry. Coupled with the country’s increased internet penetration and a larger disposable income, and you have users whose lifestyle demands a personal connection with brands.
There are 5 reasons for DTC transforming the online fashion space, which are as follows;
1.Faster customer feedback for iterative development
Fashion is ever-changing and brands often find themselves in a cycle of brand campaigns, launches, design and innovation. 9 out of 10 times, a new line is launched after studying customer insights. Something as simple as a Whatsapp or email poll creates touchpoints through which D2C brands can keep the conversation going.
The shopping behavior data collected via analytics algorithms provide sellers with information on preferences on one hand and curates a catalog that shoppers need or will consider, on the other hand. D2C eCommerce sellers can also adjust inventory by proliferating SKUS according to the kind of clothing bought, season, price, age-group, event and location/geography. These filters enable brands to think in the right direction, and capture the market with the right promotional tools and deals to drive up sales. Take FableStreet, for example. It collects body measurements directly from customers in order to specialize in fits and runs a blog that emphasizes how it’s the shape that matters, and not the size.
2. Low entry barriers and retailing costs
Most brands leverage an omnichannel strategy in varying proportions of retail+ marketplace+ native, with the majority of the investment effort going into website and marketplace orders. There are several reasons for this. One, it lowers space costs and redistributes the spend associated with storage and warehouse rent and labor. Two, it catapults brands to viral fame by being more visible and available to the larger audience via the internet. Instead of serving only a segment of the intended demographic, sellers can pitch to non-metro GenZ and millennial residents who are significantly more mobile-savvy. Three, users can leave reviews and refer the brand to their network of colleagues, family and friends via email which spreads faster than in-person word-of-mouth.
With ~700 million active internet users in India, going online enables brands to sell to anyone, anywhere. They can leverage digital marketing to reach households in a way that storefronts cannot. What’s more, there’s no competition for space nor loss of customers and cash. The ensuing visibility lets brands establish and cement their presence and attract funding from investors who see their growth potential up close. This funding can consequently be used to hire top talent and infuse more money into partner referrals, promotional marketing and design enhancement.
With social media platforms, fashion retailers can create a buzz and engage with the crowd. Most D2C brands now feature the company’s founders in ads with media personalities because it improves trustworthiness and brand recall. For instance, everyone will remember WROGN because ace cricketer Virat Kohli has a stake in it!
3. Innovation in supply chain management
D2C brands can use dropshipping and 3PL fulfillment services to increase order fulfillment. By narrowing down the supplier network and timing launch-to-deliveries, D2C brands can plan inventory dynamically. The product development cycle can have shorter timeboxed iterations which keeps positioning intact while impacting profits favorably.
4. Tech-driven personalized experiences
Technology has automated processes and shortened the product development-to-launch cycle. Brands are able to satisfy customers by offering more flexibility in terms of fit, style, size, price and returns and exchanges. For example, if you ordered a combo comprising a pant and shirt, and one of them is the wrong size or color, you can request an exchange without leaving home. Several brands minimize even these errors by offering virtual trial rooms so that customers can enter their measurements on a garment to see how it would look on them.
In 2018, Biba was the first D2C retailer to offer customers a virtual fitting room in collaboration with Astrafit which reportedly increased website dwell time by 266%. Virtual fitting rooms like TryNdBuy have emerged since, which lets users upload photographs and enter measurements to create a 3D version. The shopper can try out various permutations before adding the item to the cart. The other applications of technology include inventory updation, product recommendations based off of previous purchases and notifying customers of items that are back in stock.
5. An Equalized playing field across tier II+ cities
Tier II and III cities are now capturing a larger share of the pie chart distribution in sales, with transactions for accessories and footwear coming second to clothing. More pincodes are being added to the logistics network, and with improvements to last-mile connectivity, brands are able to fulfill orders coming from places that are considered more rural. The reachability has encouraged customers to shop online often to keep up with their metropolitan contemporaries.It’s no longer just a one-sided transaction of metro residents buying from rural areas though. The other side is gaining up, and making a style statement through their choices!
Through fashion, the brickwork for interaction is laid between developed and developing cities. Traditions from remote villages get promoted through unique curations, which is why more fashion labels are reviving attire and promoting collections for weddings, religious and regional festivals which capture the diversity across the nation.
D2C Fashion eCommerce Trends to look at
eCommerce gained prominence during the pandemic, with people adapting to shopping for everything online-be it daily essentials, clothing or footwear. The D2C fashion and apparel space is powered by AI, which has accelerated its growth in revenue and customer retention.
According to the Indian Retailer, 77.6% of the online fashion industry will comprise clothing and footwear by 2025. Some D2C fashion eCommerce trends include
- Conversational Commerce
With more Indian consumers shopping at D2C fashion brands, businesses have plugged in chatbots on their website as well as social media pages to prompt engagement through online interaction. Most chatbots have a help section programmed to respond in a certain workflow depending on the menu options the customer chose. Investing in AI has helped brands be more accessible to customers which is useful in identifying what’s wrong, frequency and likelihood of occurrences and even influencing a customer to take back a bad rating/review.
Chatbots can also track website interaction and detect abandonment probability, prompting customers to reconsider.Conversational Commerce can help D2C sellers to unlock unmet needs and personalize content that is being sent out to users, thereby pushing out the connect brands need to be remembered and loved.
- Mobile Commerce/mCommerce
Thanks to the Internet, D2C brands are able to provide instant gratification to their customers while benefiting from it as well. For example, sending out experience polls and receiving feedback within a window lets sellers know if their marketing and personalization tactics are hitting the mark (or missing the target!). With social media exposure, customers are actively engaged via mobile and web, which has resulted in brands creating mobile apps that are lightweight, multi-device compatible and cybersecure. In fact, nearly 79% of mobile users have made a purchase through their smartphone in the last 6 months. The majority uses their mobile to look a brand up, read reviews, compare prices, complete transactions and initiate returns and refunds. A mobile-first strategy can help fashion brands get discovered. It helps retain customers and engage quicker with easy signups and alerts whenever deal days are nearby. It is a mark of constant advertising because the app is in the phone which is always around or near the user!
- A Diverse and Wider Consumer Base
Most D2C fashion eCommerce retailers are expanding their presence to Tier II and III cities to avoid saturating only one market. Although order value has been comparatively lower, the order volume for small scale etailers have grown considerably as they’ve gone on board seller platforms such as Meesho, Myntra and Ajio. Meesho registered 3x sellers over the last year and in a statement issued in October 2022, it reported a ~60% order jump which came from Tier 2+ cities, with fashion emerging as the highest-growth category after smartphones. The rise in sales has a lot to do with more people venturing out to shop, and complementing their instore trips with discount comparisons online.
Unlimited options, competitive bargains, express delivery and easy exchanges/returns have characterized the fashion shopping experience. It is in the eCommerce seller’s best interests to adapt to newly emerging fashion eCommerce trends where personalization rules. Investing in an omnichannel warehouse, order fulfillment and delivery enablement platform like EasyEcom will not only ensure you’re on top of your orders and shipments, but are also able to replan your inventory to come out with the right products on the right channels!