The likelihood of a fashion brand’s onramp success to translate off-ramp hinges as much on its ability to engage customers with its collection as it does on delivering a seamless shopping experience across various channels.
Consumers today want to be able to buy clothes in real time as they see models strut down the runway. They want access to augmented reality tools to try out clothes, shoes, and accessories before they make a purchase. They also want a shopping experience that is not only fast and glitch-free but one that blurs the online and offline divide.
Of course, offering such innovative experiences, which are fast becoming the new norm, requires fashion brands to have an optimal tech stack. But the million-dollar question is: How do brands, especially those with legacy infrastructure, build one?
According to BigCommerce‘s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Meghan Stabler, the right approach puts customers’ needs first. In a recent interview with Retail Bum, Stabler highlighted the importance of identifying the ideal customer profile (ICP) and leveraging the tech stack to meet their expectations.
The three-pronged approach to building an ideal tech stack
Whether brands are building their tech stack from the ground up or upgrading their existing infrastructure, they need to start by thinking about the experience they want to deliver to their ideal customers.
Effectively engaging customers requires brands to deliver a personalized shopping experience, whether customers are shopping and making a purchase or simply browsing their websites. In a global context, this translates to localizing verbiage and offering payment options that resonate with customers’ payment habits and preferences across all channels.
Delivering on that level of personalization requires fashion brands to carefully assess their customers’ journeys, starting from product discovery to checkout, Stabler said. “Are they exploring products in-store and then checking out on their mobile phones?”
As they map their customers’ journeys and track their behaviors, brands can leverage those insights to market their products better and meet their customers when and where they like to shop. For example, brands can sharpen their outreach strategy by segregating customers into different groups based on dates and times when they are more likely to engage with marketing emails.
“So, personalization is key. Content is key. And data is key,” Stabler said, adding that focusing on these three strategies can help businesses stand apart from their competition.
Where fashion brands get stuck
From a technological standpoint, the problems fashion brands face when it comes to growing their business all too often boil down to speed, cost, and a lack of a well-planned roadmap to meet their goals.
In today’s competitive environment, brands need to be able to try out new strategies, quickly learn from their mistakes, and adjust their approaches as required. This raises the need for a composable tech stack, allowing brands to leverage APIs to seamlessly test innovative ideas. Of course, brands also face the pressure of managing costs and may find their tech investments putting a squeeze on their profit margins.
Lastly, internal influencers within the company must make a case to upper management, justifying tech costs and the potential of a strong ROI. But to be able to do that effectively, it is essential to have a strong vision and strategy in place from the get-go, Stabler said.
This is where brands can better leverage the data coming in from physical, mobile, and other digital channels to inform their vision and strategy, whether they are looking to optimize their user experience, customer journey, merchandising tech, or eCommerce business.
Of course, the challenges faced by small and emerging brands are not the same as those faced by more prominent brands and those with legacy infrastructures. As such, their unique problems require unique solutions.
Smaller brands can find themselves limited by both financial and human resources.
Case in point: When selling across various social media channels and eCommerce marketplaces, many brands manually update the schema requirements for each product listing — a strenuous and time-consuming task. On the other hand, bigger brands are often tasked with managing a huge number of integrations, creating a need for them to work with a global systems integrator.
The problem is even more complex for legacy brands, who are locked into monolithic tech stacks of SAP and Salesforce and thus find it challenging to quickly roll out new solutions and experiences — a problem that is pushing them to reconsider tech stack composability, especially as they struggle to compete.
“So, it is a matter of what level of simplicity versus what level of complexity based off of your size, and then plugging in the right people or the right organizations to help you with,” Stabler said.
These are challenges that brands can resolve by working with the right tech partner, one that has the capabilities to avert these paint points in a cost-efficient manner and enable brands to integrate in and out different technologies based on their evolving needs.
In the end, it helps to partner with the right providers and not go at it alone, Stabler said.