In a recent GlobalData press release, Sofie Willmott, Lead Retail Analyst reported that “clothing & footwear is set to be the sector hardest hit by COVID-19”, explaining that due to an absence of social occasions, she expected clothing and footwear retailers to be at a significant disadvantage.
However, we’re chuffed to report that our fashion and footwear clients have collectively been stomping all over these initial predictions with steel-toed boots!
Both the fashion and footwear sectors at Visualsoft have both seen year on year uplifts for both revenue and order volume.
Visualsoft Footwear clients have been putting their best foot forward...
* Above graph demonstrating the annual percentage increase in platform revenue and number of platform orders in lockdown for the footwear industry.
Our Footwear clients have also been a step ahead, achieving a 8% more revenue annually in March, a 35% uplift in April and a 27% increase in May 2020 when compared to the previous year.
Differently to the fashion industry, however, our footwear clients saw a larger increase in the number of orders put through the platform. In March, our footwear clients collectively saw a 20% uplift in the number of platform orders compared to 2019 and a 75% hike in April, followed by a 61% increase in May.
Footwear clients have seen a decrease in AOV when compared to 2019. Arguably, footwear retailers may have discounted more heavily throughout this time period - particularly with consumers staying at home for the most part, shoes are less of a necessity while we’re in lockdown, so shoppers may have taken a little more convincing!
Since lockdown was established, our footwear retailers have seen month on month increases in revenue and number of orders through the platform - demonstrating increasing consumer confidence in spending the more that lockdown restrictions become the ‘norm’.
Visualsoft Fashion clients have been really setting some lockdown trends...
* Above graph demonstrating the annual percentage increase in platform revenue and number of platform orders in lockdown for the fashion industry.
The websites of our fashion clients generated 15% more through the platform in revenue in March 2020 when compared to the previous year, a 45% YOY increase in April and a whopping 50% YOY increase in May.
This was reflected by similar annual increases in the number of orders going through the Visualsoft platform from customers of our fashion clients, with a 10% YOY increase in March, a 43% uplift in April and a 42% increase in May.
Lockdown resulted in many consumers dabbling in a little ‘panic buying. While the reports at the time suggested that this would be exclusive to supermarkets and businesses selling foods, drinks or home essentials, the results speak for themselves. Average order values have continued to increase within the fashion industry - indicating that a lot of savvy online shoppers were also panic purchasing fashion items. Well, you have to look trendy for your trip to the living room, don’t you?!
Since lockdown began, we’ve also seen monthly increases in both revenue and orders, which challenges all original predictions that consumers would be saving their pennies for purely ‘essential’ items.
Strategic shifts have paved the way for our clients’ successes
Since the announcement of lockdown, our team of eCommerce strategists and specialist online marketing teams have been working closely with clients to ensure that calculated strategic moves were executed with care and precision in order to secure online success throughout this uncertain time period.
We’ve seen our retailers with a real-time understanding of their customer base pivot strategies almost overnight to ensure that the new requirements of their current and new customers are met. We’ve seen retailers swap bikinis for loungewear and sandals for trainers, to keep up with consumer demand and truly appreciate the customers’ new need to feel comforted throughout an uncertain time period.
We’ve also witnessed an incredible amount of creativity and adaptability throughout this time period, from retailers having to re-structure warehouses (or safely convert unused store space into dispatch areas) to ensure safe working conditions and to be able to keep up with online orders.
Only last week, many of our retailers were able to re-open their doors to the public having quickly established safe distancing measures, equipped staff with full PPE and are allowing customers to come back to visit the store via In-Store appointments, meaning less waiting in queues for the customers, and a more tailored, one-to-one shopping experience.
What’s next for the fashion and footwear industries?
It has certainly been a testing time for retailers, and while it is easy to get bogged down in the doom and gloom that we’ve all experienced during lockdown, it's evident that while physical stores may have been out of action, eCommerce is still booming.
We’re hoping that over the coming months, we see these eCommerce trends continue online as lockdown is eased even further and it becomes the norm to return to the high street.
As we inch closer towards Q4, it would be wise for retailers to consider what the transition period looks like for them when coming out of a COVID discounted period, and into peak season. Will customers have learned to expect products at a discounted price? Will your best sellers this year mirror trends of 2019 or have consumer priorities changed?
The ‘Lipstick effect’ theory predicts that as consumers are faced with a post-COVID recession, they will cut back on purchasing large, high-value items, but treat themselves with smaller luxuries to boost their mood, such as expensive lipsticks. Encouraging customers to participate in a little self-indulgence in an act of self-care to enhance their mood could prove fruitful as we learn to navigate a post-pandemic world.
Resilient retailers who are planning for the long-term now will reap the benefits as the world settles into a new normal. Find out more about how to combat short-termism to pave the way for longevity and consistent growth in a new world here.
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