Fashion brands tackle online shift together

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Trelise Cooper summer collection 2013. Kiwi fashion brands come together next week to talk about online retailing. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Trelise Cooper summer collection 2013. Kiwi fashion brands come together next week to talk about online retailing. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

New Zealand's major fashion brands are getting together in Auckland next week to look ways of capturing a bigger portion of the global online market.

With an increasing number of people now shopping online, Kiwi fashion designers face the challenge of trying to compete against major overseas sites like ASOS and Net A Porter.

Online Fashion Success, now in its second year, will bring together brands like Pumpkin Patch, Bendon and Icebreaker, as well as designers such as Andrea Moore, Kate Sylvester and Trelise Cooper.

E-commerce consultant Colman Ridge founded the event after recognising a need for leaders in online fashion retail to come together, share knowledge and solve problems facing the industry.

"After running into a whole bunch of the same issues with fashion, I thought these guys need to get together," he said.

"The idea was to help Kiwi brands get their share of the online wallet with export orders and balance the online trade."

Generic e-commerce gatherings were common but specific events for people in the online fashion industry were not, Ridge said.

The major online issues facing fashion brands were around how to speed up delivery times, improve accuracy of sizing and garment delivery, the quality of follow-up for customers, and the ability for shoppers to interact with the brand at time of purchase.

Ridge said shoppers now expected the same customer service online as they received when buying from a physical shop.

"The customers are saying 'We like online but we need it to have a level of service delivery now, not just price delivery'."

Customers also wanted to the ability to order a garment online but pick it up in store, or buy in the store but report a problem online, he said.

Last year's event attracted about 170 people - including designers, company managers, manufacturers and technical staff - and about 80 per cent of companies represented had both bricks and mortar stores, and online channels.

Ridge said about 200 people from 60 brands had booked for this year's event, which was being held at the Viaduct Centre next Wednesday June 12.

Speakers will include Ezibuy's supply chain manager Dave Hughes, and designers Andrea Moore, Steve Dunstan of Huffer and Ruby's Emily Miller-Sharma, who will talk about how web-based retailing can compliment bricks and mortar.

Fashion was one of the fastest-growing segments in online retail and "where all the leadership development's going on", Ridge said.

"The problems solved for fashion will benefit many other industries."

Another issue facing brands was the trend towards people shopping on smartphones, meaning brands needed to be making their websites mobile-optimized.

A common fear held by established retailers was that they would "cannibalise" their traditional stores by starting to sell online, Ridge said.

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