How has the pandemic accelerated digitalisation, nearly 100 fashion brands shared their plans for the future and strategies until 2023 on the Zalando platform with Zalando Marketing Services (ZMS). The study was a peer-to-peer intelligence-share comprising quantitative survey data and interviews. And as Michele Pilati, Head of digital Transformation at Karl Lagerfeld explained Zalando condensed the feedback of all the brands into one strategic direction for the industry.
Investing on own platforms
Not depending fully on wholesale, Karl Lagerfeld and others that sell on Zalando, like Coach and Vivienne Westwood, are taking greater control of their e-com businesses. They are investing on own DTC platforms and customer journeys while marketplaces are fast becoming shop windows that can express brand DNAs. Brands expect online sales to account for 57 per cent of all sales by 2023. With consumers still looking for experience, and convenience, brick and mortar stores will still be very important.
Brands also agreed long-term investments in brand image and relevance is as important as short-term sales wins. They emphasized accountability matters and brand relatability and experience needs to prove itself commercially and adhere to a set of clear performance goals.
Especially smaller brands need to focus on commercial performance for the next two years. Almost 69 per cent surveyed brands say they plan to invest in ROI driven sales campaigns versus only 45 per cent with an annual turnover of $100 million or greater.
Almost 84 per cent digital leaders in the study are planning to focus more on campaigns along whole user journey. While only 20 per cent of those who do not deem themselves at all prepared to digitalise are ready to think long term and bigger picture. This highlights “the more digital a fashion brand is, the more set up it is to build and retain loyal customers. This also suggests that digital brands are more likely to become a consumer-centric flywheel that doesn’t need to repeatedly bring in new customers at the top of the funnel.”
And as Andreas Antrup, SVP advertising at Zalando says this reflects the purpose-led consumer-centric view. “It’s now less about a transactional view and more about customer lifetime value.”
The study also shows “going forward, storytelling and experiences that provide emotional connection, education and brand content will come from an increasing amount of touchpoints, and at various stages of the journey.” And digital fragmentation, accelerated by social media, sees the journey no longer linear, meaning brands need to plan for an omnichannel customer journey that travels around a constellation of touchpoints (offline and online).
Moreover digital brands are using data for quick decisions. Decisions on varied topics including budgets are also being facilitated. However, constant evolution in digital marketing requires precise planning with 85 per cent brands prepared for digitalisation and prioritizing agility.
The study highlights brands foresee digitalisation naturally affecting how they market and sell. However, only 39 per cent expect this to have a strong impact on their overall organisational structure, while only 25 per cent see digitalisation having an effect on product. As Antrup points out, digital retail has the capacity to test and scale new products in a way that brick-and-mortar can’t. “The scale of opportunity and loss is much greater than with bricks-and-mortar. You aren’t asking how much more could I have sold? You get more data earlier on in the funnel.”