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What are fashion retailers doing to stay relevant during Covid-19?

It can no longer be assumed that the Covid-19 crisis is merely a slight speed bump in the economy and fashion e-commerce and won’t likely carry long term effects. 

Online fashion retailers have tried to respond and act accordingly, however, not all in the same manner. Amongst others, some have created discount initiatives, some have collected donations, and some have decided to shut down completely. 

In order to analyse current initiatives taken by companies, 20 fashion e-commerce stores were reviewed in relation to their response to the Covid-19 crisis. 

Initiatives

1. Fashion E-commerce Closing

Fashion e-commerce closing – for some companies the situation has become so dire that they feel it to be no longer safe for them to keep their online stores open which has caused many online fashion retailers to close down for the coming while.

  • Of the 20 stores, two stores temporarily closed down. NEXT has completely closed down online orders as well as deliveries. River Island has also closed down its deliveries and warehouse however still allows shoppers to place online orders that they will receive as soon as the online store re-opens. 

2. Discounts and Special Offers

Increase in discounts and special offers – one of the most current initiatives visible across stores are increases in discounts offered to draw customers in.

Companies that are currently offering special discounts are the following.

  • Zalando has created a #WeStayAtHome section for customers to purchase items that suit their home setting.

  • Farfetch has created a B2C combined with a B2B initiative titled #SupportBoutiques in which customers are offered a 25% discount on selected boutiques and boutiques are given a 25% reduced cost for using Farfetch’s marketplace.

  • Macy’s has created several offers and specials.

Firstly, they created a special ‘Together’ shopping section in which they offer additional discounts on discount articles due to people intended to target people at home by means of offering items to brighten someone’s day. 

Secondly, the store offers comfort items at sale prices.

  • The online retailer Nordstrom is currently promoting a ‘The Better Together Sale’, which includes sales on comfort wear as well as weekly special sales.

  • Much alike other stores, Otto has a #WirBleibenZuhause page in which home-items needed for self-made home renovation are promoted for customers staying in.  

  • Marks & Spencer’s landing page now focuses on loungewear by means of ‘The Comfort Zone’ where customers are directed to clothes they can wear for any occasion in their homes.

  • Urban Outfitters has created a shopping section titled ‘Stay Home Get Cozy’ which too offers clothing for comfort. 

  • Zappos has modified its website to primarily focus on the current crisis. The store has done so by promoting comfort clothes, collecting donations, and allowing customers to gift healthcare workers.

The stores that not directly create special offers or discounts in response to the Covid-19 crisis were ASOS, New Look, River Island, Matalan, Universal, NA-KD, AboutYou, Heine, and Boohoo

3. Delivery and Returns

Delivery and Return Changes – Online fashion retailers have made changes to their delivery methods and times as well as return days given to customers.

Of the 20 online fashion retailers considered, 12 stores have announced that they have extended the amount shoppers have to return products they wish not to keep. The stores that offered this were ASOS, New Look, Otto, Amazon, Matalan, Marks & Spencer, Universal.at, NA-KD, Urban Outfitters, Zappos, AboutYou, Heine, and Boohoo.

  • ASOS has extended the return time to 90 days. They have further created a Coronavirus FAQs section.

  • Marks & Spencer too extended return days to be 90 days, however, has also changed its delivery prioritization on food. 

The stores that did not directly announce any changes to their delivery and returns were Zalando, Farfetch, Macy’s, Nordstrom, ZOOT. It must still be noted that Zalando did announce potential delays in deliveries and backlog in accepting returns and that Nordstrom generally had no return time frame.  

4. Covid-19 Statements

Covid-19 Statements – The majority of stores offered FAQs regarding Covid-19 or statements on the current situation with regard to the virus.

5. Philanthropy and Giving Back

Special initiatives

  • Amazon created a Covid-19 blog announcing it’s latest responses and initiatives. This included their $5 million donation to help out globally to battle the current crisis.

  • Zoot has created a site to support doctors. This includes personal stories as well as several ways for customers to support doctors. 

  • Marks & Spencer, prioritizes food deliveries for different customers depending on their age and vulnerability as well as well as their occupation in health services. They also help the NHS, make food and clothing donations, as well as more.

  • About You changed its logo and name in support of the crisis and a means to create awareness.

Summary

Overall, the majority of the fashion retailers analysed have undergone several changes as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. These changes ranged from extended return times, to special offers and discounts, all the way to help initiatives for Covid-19.

The most frequent trends were extended return times of up to 90 days as well as special offers and inspirational hashtags for people to purchase comfort wear and items practical for staying in-home.

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