CEOs, Founders, Analysts & Insiders share unique insights and real-time observations on the industry’s response to Coronavirus.
Organized into 12 different areas of the fashion-retail value chain, the collection provides access to nearly 20 professional resources to help our community navigate current challenges.
HOW TO USE: Click on the button(s) below to locate the insights and resources for each industry segment. Navigate back to the top with the arrow in the lower right corner of the screen.
“There’s intense and new need to quickly understand the store of the future. Services that protect customers, a reduced human contact shopping experience, and the rapid combination of digital and physical customer journey are more important than ever. This means offering curbside pickup, buy online pick up in store, mobile and zero-checkout experiences. This also means rethinking store talent and repositioning in-store talent for services such as live-streaming and regulating customer access and density. In the upcoming years of uncertainty, we also believe marketing investments will need to tap into ways to be positive parts of the solution and help people and families become better individuals and members of communities and societies. In addition to retailers helping with basic needs and protective equipment, this can also occur through diverse ways such as creative lifestyle marketing, which provides at-home entertainment/wellness and helping customers to cope as an at-home lifestyle takes center stage through music, culture, food, cooking, wellness, and family and child care.” Oliver Chen, Managing Director, Cowen and Company
“Store closures are pushing retailers to fast-track their digital transformations. Many are rethinking their physical footprint and using this time as an opportunity to reset. Inventory management has long been a challenge in the industry, but it’s come into focus as one of the particular areas requiring immediate change. We’ve heard from brands that one priority moving forward will be to reduce the working capital for store inventory. In the new normal, retailers will buy less inventory and hold less inventory in stores, while leveraging other demand sources to fulfill orders and enable quick shipping. We’re seeing our customers accelerate this vision with store fulfillment, curbside pickup, and endless aisle. With accurate and real-time inventory as the backbone, they’re able to unlock all available-to-sell inventory today to create a lighter and smarter operation for the inevitable return of retail.” — Phil Granof, CMO, NewStore
“The retail sector has faced many threats over the years, which have only intensified during the coronavirus pandemic. With physical stores shuttered, digital commerce has become a lifeline for retailers. And as consumers increasingly shop online, they’re searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods. While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale. In light of these challenges, we’re advancing our existing plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. In the coming days, search results on the Google Shopping tab in the US will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.” — Bill Ready, President of Commerce, Google
“While many of our clients, across different verticals, are seeing a surge in new customers despite the global economic slowdown, it does not come with a clear upward trend in average order value. Interestingly enough, the number of items-per-order has gone up in most cases. In other words, when people buy online, they might be a little tighter on expenses but are still making sure each order includes more items than usual. One assumption is that it is because people are trying to limit the number of deliveries coming into their houses.” — Pini Yakuel’s, CEO and Founder, Optimove
““Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, our users have been spending more time on Snapchat to keep connected, with Snaps among friends reaching an all-time high, and time spent on video calls up by more than 50%. In addition, with more than half of the United States Gen Z population watching news content on Snap through Discover, we feel it is particularly important to provide curated and trustworthy information during these critical times. In terms of advertising, retailers and e-commerce brands are innovating approaches with the use of Snap Lenses to adapt shopping rituals such as store browsing and product trials into augmented reality (AR) experiences consumers can use from home. We’ve included some details on Gen Z usage, AR shopping, and creative messaging during this crisis in our COVID-19 Resource Center.” —Mark McMaster, Head of Emerging Commerce, Snap Inc.
“In recent weeks, many customers have come to recognize the importance of digital readiness and the ability to run business virtually. But certain areas of the fashion and retail industry, principally the supply chain, have been ‘digitally-hesitant’ with software traditionally hosted on-premise. In fact, at this point in time over 90% of the industry still runs on-prem. As many companies reconsider their technology stack after this crisis, we hope that they think about solutions that can be seamlessly used by everyone from a sewer on the factory floor to a CEO.” — Suuchi Ramesh, Founder and CEO, Suuchi
“Even before the pandemic, e-Commerce represented the bulk of retail sales growth in the US—$600 billion in online sales accounted for 56% of overall growth last year. And projections say e-Commerce sales may go as high as $6.5 trillion in 2023. There is no disputing that consumer spending is down versus the same period last year, as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Yet 43% of e-Commerce merchants report an uptick sales, according to recent studies and April’s average daily sales are 39% higher than March’s averages. The brands that are seeing the most growth sell ‘New Essentials’. These are items that help you feel more comfortable at home, including categories such as health and beauty, office supplies, housewares, home improvement, toys and hobbies.” — Rich Gardner, VP Global Strategic Partnerships, Klaviyo
“We believe that due to fulfillment delays in the largest online marketplaces, consumers are choosing to set up new accounts with online brands they have not previously shopped. At Lucidworks, we work with retailers in apparel and specialty categories. We have taken a look at the first 15 weeks of 2018, 2019, and 2020 to draw some comparisons. Here is what we found: New customer segments grew anywhere from 50 to 100% in 2020 compared to the previous two years. Assuming this trend is widespread — and assuming that email marketing, onsite personalization, and fulfillment are in good order — there is a real opportunity for online brands to claw back wallet share from the giants.” – Peter Curran, GM Digital Commerce, Lucidworks
“While change has been abrupt and dramatic, we are experiencing a period of digital acceleration versus that of disruption. In terms of eCommerce, we see this playing out in a couple of ways. At a time when model-centric photoshoots are not likely, AI-driven technologies are steeping in to help maximize a now limited amount of visual content. We are also seeing an increased focus on the online shopping experience itself, with even more attention being paid to enhancing that experience to create that same ‘surprise and delight’ moment of walking into a store.” — Rohan Deuskar, CEO & Founder, Stylitics
“Calibrating valuations in the sector will be very challenging until some level of certainty returns and the “winners and losers” are sorted. Using the publicly traded companies in the apparel & footwear sector as a proxy, stock prices are down 38% since the Covid crisis began to impact the market (vs. 17% for the S&P 500), earnings expectations are all over the map and traditional valuation multiples are somewhat meaningless. Most brands and retailers in the sector have little visibility into the balance of 2020 given the significant unknowns as we sit here today: cadence of store reopenings; impact of disruption of typical fashion cycles; promotional environment resulting from likely inventory glut once the economy restarts; and impact on longer-term consumer behavior. Coming out of this, brands with both strong consumer connections and profitable growth will continue to garner premium valuations.” — Andy Cox, Managing Director, Piper Sandler
“Today, we’re seeing an unprecedented change in modern retail, and e-commerce is becoming more important than ever. One such example of this change can be seen in the fact that searches on Pinterest have gone up nearly 55% year over year. The uptick in searches are correlated with “working from home”, “self-care” and “loungewear outfits”. We recognize that inspiration is a key ingredient in retail and brands are seeing success when they inspire Pinners who expect a seamless shopping experience that feels more like “real life.” By replicating that experience, the number of consumers engaging with shopping on Pinterest has increased 44% year over year.” — Katie Dombrowski, US Segment Lead, Disruptor Brands, Pinterest
“In a survey we recently conducted (with Morning Consult) we saw 57% of shoppers say they have avoided going to a store since the beginning of the pandemic. That being said, online purchases are still taking place and so are returns. We recognize that some merchants have made the decision to temporarily extend their returns windows, but having the right return method to meet customer expectation is of the highest importance. Notably, 66% of consumers said they enjoy at-home pickup for returns — an option that is 4x more popular than in-store drop-off and 3x more popular than carrier drop-off for returns. With customer behavior shifting significantly through this crisis, we believe that these are highly relevant figures to consider.” — Jon Kapplow, SVP of Marketing & Communication Commerce Services, Pitney Bowes
“We are seeing a global consumer base that is being pulled in multiple, extreme directions. Having worked through the 2009 crisis, we believe that companies will be reorienting toward a dramatically different forthcoming sales structure as we face an ever-changing future which therefore requires a dynamic need for talent. Whereas in 2009 companies were focused on acquiring talent for starting or growing their digital and marketing functions, we are now seeing companies seeking e-commerce and supply chain talent to help guide the race to meet a new, profitable future. – Bryan Zaslow, CEO and Founder of JBCHoldings
“At Afterpay, we are seeing a shift in consumer shopping behavior from fashion apparel to wellness and beauty over the past few weeks. With consumers in quarantine and non-essential retailers closed, customers are looking towards online shopping and favoring brands that cater to self-care and fitness such as Ulta Beauty and Nike. Items such as serums, beauty tools, joggers, and sneakers have jumped in popularity, with our team seeing month-on-month growth rate of 12% in those categories.” — Melissa Davis, Chief Revenue Officer, Afterpay
“Between H2 2018 – H2 2019, the dollar amount of fraud attacks increased by nearly 3x, as compared to the volume of fraud attacks. Not only are we seeing more brazen attacks, but the methods of fraud and abuse are also becoming more focused, more targeted, and poised to do greater damage. With e-commerce taking on greater importance during the Coronavirus outbreak and with the increased focus on customer experience, this rising level of sophistication in attacks, fraud, and abuse is highly sensitive. We are seeing our customers reexamine their digital strategy and ability to meet customer expectations in this unprecedented environment, with a focus on striking the right balance between fraud and abuse prevention, while ensuring best-in-class customer experience.” — Michael Reitblat, Co-Founder and CEO, Forter
“From the perspective of the design industry, brands and retailers are cautiously considering their options and response to the national state of emergency and implications of the pandemic. While some work streams can adapt to remote work arrangements, the fashion industry is facing business interruptions that cannot be avoided. Our clients in particular have come to us for help navigating the various government stimulus programs, as COVID-19 has created a complex web of employment and financial issues across various statutes and regulations. But there are also opportunities. The way forward is still emerging, and evolving daily and we must remain assured that we can come through this a more robust society.” — G. Roxanne Elings, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
“While there has been a sizable uptick in luxury e-commerce sales volume during the pandemic, the growth in this channel has not been large enough to bridge the physical retail gap created by global closures, leaving brands and retailers with a significant inventory problem. We’re witnessing luxury brands succumb to deep discounting, slashing prices by up to 75% in a move that sacrifices long-term brand value for potential near-term growth. Analysts are suggesting, however, that the problem is unlikely to self-correct in the short term, forecasting a 40% decrease in sales for the luxury sector on the year as a whole. As the world comes out of this crisis, we anticipate a renewed focus on resale partnerships as an alternative solution. At FASHIONPHILE we will continue to focus on offering a discrete and sustainable channel to our brand and retail partners for moving this inventory.” – Sarah Davis, Founder & President, FASHIONPHILE
“Our retail-adjacent clients have noted declines in retail activity, with a few bright spots. Amperity’s Retail Monitor, which tracks consumer behavior across digital channels, recently showed that revenue for retailers coming from mobile is down 44% Y/Y, but that basket sizes for the Home & Jewelry vertical have increased all through April (+49% Y/Y) – suggesting a strong performance boost for Mother’s Day. Our client Belardi Wong, one of the leaders in direct mail marketing, has also noted depressed overall retail conditions but a recent uptick in sales for DTC consumer brands. It is their opinion that the companies efficiently employing their proprietary data and staying the course in their marketing and operations will be the ones that survive and return stronger post-COVID. In fact, an April survey of more than 300 Belardi Wong clients found that more than 50% had seen an uptick in sales the previous week.” – Ben Billingsley, Founder and CEO, Broadsheet Communications
“Technology plays a key role in addressing the world’s largest challenges, including how we support future generations. With all of the data and analysis being provided about the retail industry during this pandemic, we felt it was important to recognize working parents as their days have expanded to work, children’s education and parenting by providing a comprehensive resource guide for remote learning.” — Stacey Shulman, Chief Innovation Officer and VP, IOT Group, Intel