While certain segments of the retail industry such as grocery and meal delivery have seen an uptick in customers due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in place, fashion retail has been hit particularly hard.
According to spending data released by Zip, fashion retail saw spending fall almost 17 per cent in the week leading up to lockdown, and a further 29 per cent the week after.
“It’s been a tough couple of months for everyone,” Forever New managing director Carolyn Mackenzie told Inside Retail. “However, on a positive note, we’ve learned what an agile and adaptive business we can be.”
During the last few weeks, Forever New has made a number of major changes to its business model to keep its customer service intact and pivot the business to address the new normal.
Instead of focusing its marketing on clothes for going out, the business repositioned customer communications toward casual wear and buy now, wear now pieces, and increased its focus on social media to reach self-isolating customers.
Additionally, the business is trialling out new ways to interact on social media – with head office members trying on new products on Instagram, as well as offering free workout, meditation and cooking videos.
And with changing customer behaviour comes a need to rethink the customer experience. To tackle the difficulties of customers struggling to return purchased products, Forever New teamed up with courier service Couriers Please to deploy a way for customers to return products without leaving their homes.
The service, called Boomerang, allows customers in metro areas to book a courier pickup through the Couriers Please website, which will then be delivered to the Forever New warehouse for a refund to be processed.
And any extra cost won’t be passed onto the customer, McKenzie said.
“With our retail stores temporarily closed, we identified the need to recreate the in store experience at home,” Mackenzie said.
“This meant making returns as easy as possible. The Boomerang courier service is all about offering our customers ease and convenience [since] this customer mindset will continue after the pandemic.”
And it seems the gambles are paying off. According to Mackenzie making Forever New’s online shopping convenient and easy, and by reaching out in a new way, the business is seeing customers who haven’t shopped online embracing the new experiences.
“As a fashion retailer within a very competitive market, we’re used to being adaptive and agile. We were able to pivot and adjust our focus quickly in response to the unfolding events and ever-changing customer needs,” Mackenzie said.
Additional reporting by Jo-Anne Hui-Miller.