In the fashion e-commerce industry, there are many Internet platforms that manage online shopping catalogs and process e-commerce sales orders. However, the needs of fashion brands are getting more and more complex. It’s not enough for apparel stores to just integrate with some platforms — now they require innovation to implement the newest marketing tools and digital functions.
Change is a crucial component of fashion e-commerce, as proven by any seasonal show year after year. So in this article, we’ll see how startups transform the scope of fashion and make it adapt to current market needs.
Latest changes and trends
Over the past few years, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on fashion e-commerce forecasts. When lockdowns were introduced globally in March 2020, about 30% of US consumers said they planned to spend quite a bit less on luxury and fashion items than they had planned before.
On the other hand, some businesses prospered even during lockdowns. For example, the value of the well-known fast fashion brand Shein has now doubled to $30 billion, making it the largest online fashion retailer in the world.
Eco-friendly but affordable clothing is on the upswing, and the recommerce industry has every chance of continuing to boom due to global economic changes. Shiny fashion events are also becoming a thing of the past and are being replaced by a growing off-season clothing market because consumers are keen to make the most of every purchase.
The rising demand for everyday clothes
Research involving 16,000+ retailers showed that leisure wear was, not surprisingly, the most popular lockdown clothing. In this category, consumer demand increased by around 430% compared to the year 2020.
Thus, everyday clothing is the most dominant on Amazon. As for sportswear, the compound annual growth rate is projected to reach 6.7%, reaching $257.1 billion by 2026. The market for leisure wear and pajamas is showing similar growth signs: it’s predicted to reach $19.5 billion by 2024.
Though shoppers probably won’t wear leisure clothing forever, comfort and versatility are likely to remain constant e-commerce fashion industry trends and important factors for their future shopping. It’s especially relevant when companies are considering hybrid offices, and the work-home boundaries continue to blur.
Artificial Intelligence becomes a virtual assistant
Today, shopping has become synonymous with advanced online features, personalized experience, and immediate support at all times. Overall, consumers expect continuous interaction with a brand any time they want.
To solve the new problem of how to put the customer at the center of marketing strategies, fashion e-commerce retailers are increasingly turning to one solution: AI, and, more importantly, AI chatbots.
AI-based personalisation aims to ensure that:
- Customers do not waste their time browsing irrelevant products
- They find the products they like and want
- The customer experience is personalized.
Face-to-face shops are not the only way for shoppers to contact brands anymore, especially clothing retailers. As consumers rely more on mobile devices, same-day delivery, and 24/7 support for customers, apparel retailers are transforming the entire shopping experience.
AR and VR dressing rooms
One area fashion retailers are especially focused on is the use of AR and VR dressing rooms that are innovating the e-commerce fashion industry. These experiences allow customers to see themselves wearing a brand’s clothes without the need to visit the shop.
A notable VR experience success story was Rhone Apparel, which partnered with Rakuten to create a virtual fitting service called Rakuten Fits Me. By pressing a button, consumers answer a series of quick questions, provide simple data, and are then shown the most common body shapes for that unique body data. Fit Origin then generates a final reference.
Zara has also found a way to close the gap between online and offline by introducing its AR app. The brand tried to lure customers into shops by activating AR experiences on specific storefronts and touch-points spread around the shops. All customers had to do was hold their phone up to one of these locations and then watch models come to life on their screens, wearing selected items from the Zara assortment, with the option to click and buy.
Fashion e-commerce startups and companies to watch
Here is a list of 13 most promising startups in the fashion e-commerce field. Some of them are already developing innovation in VR fashion, electronic clothing, design, and AI. These startups have high potential, so it’s worth paying attention to them.
Depop is a fashion marketplace that was founded in 2017 (San Francisco, USA) where a new generation purchases, sells, and gets inspired. It was founded by Simon Beckerman, co-founder of Pig magazine and RetroSuperfuture sunglasses. It has quickly become a fashion app marketplace where users can trade new, second-hand, vintage, and modern clothing and accessories that might not be found anywhere else.
Depop now has over 400 employees all over the world and more than 30 million users. Popular with micro-influencers and small ecommerce business traders, Depop also provides a social media platform to browse what people like, sell, and buy.
Lookerio is a women’s home shopping service founded in 2005 (Stockholm, Sweden). Every month, they’ll send 5 items of clothing, apparel, and accessories right to your home. You simply keep and pay for the items you like, returning others in the mail.
The services of Lookerio come for different budgets. The team does not charge for the service if you keep one or more items; otherwise, a nominal fee is charged.
Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway is a clothing rental company founded in 2015 (London, UK). It is changing the ecommerce fashion industry by offering women the opportunity to rent designer clothes and accessories.
The startup’s specially designed technology platform allows it to offer one-off rentals and membership on a subscription basis. So one can say that despite being a rental company, Rent the Runway is actually selling fashion freedom and flexibility.
TALA is an e-commerce startup founded in 2019. It takes a ‘slow speed approach’ to sportswear. The brand’s products are made from 90% recycled materials with the aim of achieving 100% by 2025 without affecting quality and price.
Limeroad was founded in 2012. This startup has its own special feature that breaks new ground: it allows you to create your own image in the format of a virtual album, using products from thousands of sellers on the website. You can then share it with others. If you’re not creative, you can buy a look that someone else has created.
Showroomprive is an online shopping platform for products in several categories founded in 2006 (Paris, France). The product catalog includes clothing, innerwear, and fashion accessories such as scarves, cosmetics, toys, and home goods. The members-only platform offers discounts on products that are valid for limited periods of time.
The Chapar is a styling application for men to create their fashionable style. The application regularly sends out packages of clothes based on a user’s tastes and styling. Customers can try clothes on and return any items that they don’t like.
The Chapar team stylists work with clients through telephone calls as well as online chats, asking for their thoughts and sending them more suitable items of clothing.
AdoreMe is a vertically integrated women’s intimate clothing brand founded in 2011 (New York, USA). It offers perfectly fitting women’s intimate wear at significantly lower prices. AdoreMe is operating in a fast cycle from production to retail, launching a new collection of 30–40 pieces each month.
Kraftly was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in New Delhi. It is a mobile flea market focused on selling handmade items. It also has a large collection of women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories, shoes, toys, and much more.
Myntra is an online shop established in 2007 (Bangalore, India) that offers multi-category fashion products. The product catalog includes clothes, shoes, accessories such as sunglasses, watches, hats, backpacks, bags and purses, and much more for men, women and children. Cosmetic and home decorations are also on offer there.
Myntra started selling fashion and lifestyle items in 2011. It was bought by Flipkart in 2014 and then scaled many times over. Now it operates independently while also staying a part of Flipkart. It offers access to 350+ Indian and international brands.
As the startup team puts it, Voonik stands out from other e-commerce fashion startups because it provides the perfect products to match your style and personality. It was founded in 2013 and since then, Voonik has grown into a user-friendly platform with personalized recommendations.
The process of personalization starts with questions about customers’ choices, preferences, and personalities. After getting their answers the app analyses them and picks outfits according to what users shared about themselves.
By Laura Ella
In contrast to some popular fast fashion brands, By Laura Ella avoids any unethical processes, such as poor working conditions in factories and underpayment of workers. Instead, the brand only produces clothes from old and vintage materials.
The brand also donates a percentage of its profits to Plan International, an independent development and humanitarian aid organization which fights for the rights of women and children.
For Days is a clothing brand made from 100% recyclable materials. It works within a groundbreaking closed-loop system called the SWAP programme. Any product under the For Days SWAP membership can be returned and recycled in exchange for a new one. Originally, the SWAP membership only encompassed T-shirts, but the startup has expanded to sweatshirts, bags, trousers, and black ties.
The fashion e-commerce industry is growing and changing at a breathtaking rate, and as technology keeps evolving, that rate is only going to accelerate. This marks spectacular news for the industry, as traditional fashion retailers can now scale their reach from ordinary shops to fashion e-commerce websites that attract shoppers around the world.