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Facing The Challenge of COVID-19 in Retail Sector

retail

Facing The Challenge of COVID-19 in Retail Sector

TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace was originally created as a digital platform to smoothly connect new and established fashion brands with buyers from all over the world. As a business owner, you try to prepare for every eventuality, but I don’t think anyone could have seen the current crisis coming or the scale with which it would affect businesses globally. We had to move quickly to adapt to the situation, reassessing our processes, slowing things down and working closely with our suppliers and providers to make sure that no-one was left behind.

The community spirit within the industry has surprised me more than anything, as companies have really pulled together to overcome the difficulties we all face. Sales across the whole retail sector have obviously been affected, but traffic has been improving since June and we’re looking to the future with a positive outlook as we work together to succeed.

It is vital for businesses to keep implementing new ideas in “turbulent times” by planning for the future and building a strong foundation. The fashion industry, in particular, has changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s clear the fashion industry has changed completely, as has customer behavior, and we need to make sure we fully understand our customers’ changing priorities in order to give them what they want, how they want it. We’re listening closely to our audience to make sure we stay relevant and in tune with their needs, and we’re investing both time and resources into the latest technologies to improve our customer journey at every step of the way.

In these unprecedented times, entire sectors have fallen prey to the complexity left behind in the pandemic’s wake. Many retail companies have seized the opportunity to reinvent themselves in the digital space, harnessing the importance of free-flowing business as the world evolves to a new way of virtual living. TradeGala has smoothly adapted to the new normal, reassessing continuity plans and addressing valid concerns from partnering entrepreneurs and customers alike. In response to the shock to supply and logistics chains and the fall in customer demand, both Goddiva (our women’s occasionwear fashion brand) and TradeGala have implemented critical changes in strategy to ensure safety from disruption and inclusivity for all the business partners and entrepreneurs using our platforms.

As demand drops, the marketplace community must focus on back-to-basic points; optimizing choice, re-assessment of prices, and managing short term costs, while finding new, innovative, and inclusive methods to provide customers with an unwavering reason to keep shopping.

We know that after the COVID-19 pandemic, start-ups will need the support and experience of mentors and industry experts more than ever. Part of the TradeGala vision has always been to help young and emerging entrepreneurs make their mark in the fashion industry. This strategy will not change at all and the COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened our corporate vision to work even closer with industry entrepreneurs. We must understand that the post-pandemic retail world will be very different; it’s all about taking it with a grain of salt.

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Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala

boohoo

The Boohoo’s Trade Ascendency – What Can we Learn?

The Coronavirus crisis has taken it’s fair share of victims in the world of retail, tolling the death knell for a whole slew of companies including Debenhams, Long Tall Sally, Cath Kidson, Warehouse and Oasis. And yet, recent news tells us all is not lost – Boohoo has stepped in and bought the online businesses of both Warehouse and Oasis for a bargain £5.25m. It’s no surprise that e-commerce based retailers have been less hard-hit than their high-street counterparts, but even so, the majority of e-tailers have reported losses during the crisis. Not so Boohoo. Despite a slight downturn when the crisis hit, sales shot back up in May and they closed the first quarter with a 45% sales increase on the previous year. So what is it that makes Boohoo so special?

Their secret it seems is in their provisioning – the “Test and Repeat” model. Rather than making major forward orders and holding large amounts of stock in their warehouse, they instead purchase small product runs, test them on the site, and then restock quickly the products that work well, discarding those that don’t. This has been vital during the COVID-19 crisis as it allowed Boohoo to switch their product range from party and club styles to loungewear and athleisure within a matter of days, adapting to their audience’s requirements without missing a beat. As the retail sector faces an uncertain future it’s worth considering whether this business model may be the solution for retailers everywhere, whatever their size.

The difficulty is sourcing products quickly enough to make it work. There’s no point in having a successful test-run of a certain product if, when the first batch sells out, your restock order from suppliers in China or India can take up to 2 months to arrive – by this point the bird will have well and truly flown. Boohoo combats this by stocking mainly UK based suppliers, and with imports affected by travel restrictions and breaks in the supply chain, sourcing products locally is, without doubt, the obvious solution (particularly with Brexit on the horizon). Some retailers may balk at the higher prices, but with lower risks and less deadstock, the benefits do seem to outweigh the increased costs.

The Coronavirus crisis has forced an entire industry to stop and think, literally. How can we change the way we work to face the challenges that have taken us all by surprise? Short-order provisioning may be a way for businesses to adapt to this new situation and respond to the rapid changes in consumer demand that are sure to continue over the coming months, however, this is likely to be a step outside of the comfort zone for many retailers who are used to ordering for season months in advance.

The good news is that there are simple options to help with the switch to the “Test and Repeat” model. TradeGala offers ready-to-ship stock from over 50 independent fashion brands covering womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, accessories, gifts and shoes. It’s simple to register and you can go from initial order to receipt of goods in just a few days. Whether or not the recent changes signal the future of the fashion retail industry, as with any business, adaptation is survival. Is your retail business ready for the “new normal”?