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Selling Fashion online: the trends that are changing the game. Interview with Paola Marzario

How is the fashion sector of online commerce changing?

What are the trends that will determine the future of the industry?

New trends defining the Italian online marketplace in the fashion industry were discussed during the online event “Selling Fashion on Marketplaces,” part of the series of events dedicated to analyzing the world of marketplaces curated by BrandOn Group, the successful European company that helps brands sell more and better and internationalize online.

An event to bring out new online sales opportunities for the target industry thanks to the participation of high-level guests, including brands, marketplaces and institutions, who provided outstanding Case Histories.

We discussed this with BrandOn Group founder Paola Marzario.

What does omnichannel concretely mean in relation to the fashion industry?

In 2023, according to data from the eCommerce B2C Observatory Netcomm School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, this year we see the positive 2022 trend continuing, with apparel in ecommerce registering +10% growth over last year.

Overall, online shopping is growing, with +13%, and is expected to be worth 54 billion euros in 2023. Online stores have shown great attractiveness, thanks to payment systems, available delivery methods, advantageous prices and even innovative technological solutions such as augmented reality.

With this trend we detect a change in the customer journey that unites online and offline and defines them as different touchpoints of a seamless experience. Marketplaces, for example, facilitate internationalization and the engagement of a new customer base that would otherwise be difficult to reach, even within a process of entering new markets. This also increases brand awareness and makes it possible to expand offerings in an agile manner. At the same time, physical stores allow people to experience the product before they buy it and can therefore be integrated into an overall strategy without one channel overriding the others.

And how is artificial intelligence changing the industry?

Artificial intelligence is changing so many industries and promises huge profits. In particular, in the fashion industry, according to McKinsey’s report “Generative AI: Unlocking the future of fashion”, these will reach between 160 and 298 billion euros in the next five years.

Then again, fashion is precisely one of the areas where the importance of these technologies was first understood. Not only for common uses such as accelerating and automating processes or processing and analyzing Big Data, becoming an asset in marketing, customer relations and logistics. But also, specifically to fashion, with applications in design and virtual pattern making. Also augmented reality, as with the “virtual try on,” spread especially in luxury marketplaces, or “smart mirrors,” as a visual merchandising or advertising tool. In April there was the first AI Fashion Week, which expanded the definition of what is possible in the industry. Another example is provided by G-Star, which launched 12 looks totally created with AI. Still, we have seen memes such as the one of Pope Francis wearing a white Moncler down jacket go viral, with implications with respect to marketing, communication, brand awareness and engagement.

Are the needs of the fashion market and sustainability compatible?

Consumer expectations increasingly contemplate sustainability criteria. And to meet them, it is not enough to ensure that a product can be recycled, as awareness has also increased with respect to the various moments and actors in the supply chain and their responsibilities. Therefore, brands need to make sure they have a concrete impact in terms of business sustainability.

How to achieve this goal? There are actually many viable solutions: among them, transparent reporting, traceability, carbon neutrality, biodegradable products, use of recycled materials, reduction of packaging, choice of partners who are themselves sustainable, ecodesign.

An example of this is Levi’s, a brand that has begun to implement a supplier transparency policy to account for its overall carbon footprint. But despite the relevance of the issue with respect to consumer behavior, this year Italy dropped from second to fourth place in the ‘Circular Fashion Index 2023’ ranking by consulting firm Kearney, which assigns a sustainability score on a national basis.

Rethinking one’s business model in a greener direction, on the other hand, could provide an important competitive advantage.

Read the interview on Fashion Magazine