Apparel and clothing retailers today operate in a fiercely competitive environment and hence need to constantly innovate, re-invent, and upgrade to become the first choice for customers. Managing the rising cost, price sensitive consumers, and whimsical trends is not enough, but along with which, having a multi-channel facility of purchasing garments is becoming very essential. Developing a model that integrates the brand, retailers, and manufacturers efficiently can help sustain a successful apparel retail business.
The hybrid retail model helps in amalgamation of the trinity of any apparel retail company, the manufacturers, retailers, and the brand across the supply chain in order to protect margins. To stay in the game, apparel retailers need a break through from the traditional format in order to stay connected to their customers. Besides merging the physical selling store platform with the online e-commerce shops, a good hybrid retailing model must provide a unique shopping experience to pull customers.
According to a survey done by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the percentage of producers of garments selling directly to consumers is more likely to mature to 71 per cent in the next one year. The hybrid model can work wonders for apparel retailers and the garment industry. The key is to channelize forces to make use of the best of both, the physical store and the online store, to attract customers and make profits.
Using a brick and click model, apparel retailers can leverage upon their e-commerce sites by providing information about the latest products, sales, and deals in a cement store and also allow customers to book or reserve a particular garment. This in return lures customers to the physical store either to have a look at the on-going sale or to pick up their pre-booked outfit. This way the customers stay engaged and are benefitted from the hybrid retail.
Moreover, apparel companies can use their e-commerce platform to the advantage of reaching customers in different geographical regions. For instance, the climatic conditions arent the same, across the same time, in different regions of a country. Hence while it may be snowing in one part, the other part of the country might be enjoying a pleasant climate. Using a hybrid model, apparel retailers can sell their stock at a competitive price.
Another important aspect of the retail business is studying the buying patterns of customers. E-commerce platforms track customer purchases and also have a database of consumer information which can be used to send out customized invites to in-store events like the launch of a new physical store, or to review the latest collection, or a special sale. Fashion apparel retailers who have agreed to integrate their supply chain enjoy the position in which they have the most control over the product, price, and timely delivery in the market. This in turn will let apparel retailers develop products that are aligned with their brand strategies for specific target audience through unique attributes.
The hybrid retail model aids in designing a product that suits a particular price and margin point. There will be many costs that are taken out because of the complete elimination of the middlemen in such a retail model. This also ensures that the connect with the customers and greater control which can help meet the requirements and demand of the market at the right time and at the right price.
Many apparel makers are making use of the hybrid model for clothing retail. Macys, Zara, J.C. Penny, Sears, and H&M are few who have adopted it. The synergy of the hybrid model brings with it a basket full of benefits. Apparel retailers can firstly save on cost by cutting expenses on labour, managing inventory, and in marketing and promotional activities.
The hybrid concept also allows apparel retailers to concentrate on value added services given to their customers. For example pre-purchasing aids like providing information on different products and customizing the message can be focussed on, and post-purchase services like managing online accounts, engaging customers in loyalty programmes, getting feedback, and post-sale services can be provided. Having a hybrid model ensures trust within customers, since they know that theres a physical store near them that can be reached, just in case of any queries, while the online e-commerce platform keeps them updated and provides the ease of buying garments. The hybrid retail ideas however possess certain challenges too. Although it allows flexibility to the apparel retail business, it also becomes a little difficult to adapt quickly to customer preferences in terms of quantity and timely delivery.
But many apparel retailers have overcome these bottlenecks and are trying to develop online only collections and providing the option of personalized clothing with an in-store trial and pick-up. Balancing the e-commerce and physical store platform using a hybrid retail model is certainly on the rise among apparel retailers in the many countries by using latest technology to make this collaboration strong and powerful.