The Coronavirus is not only for now. In fact, the lasting effects of the COVID outbreak will be hitting industries for decades to come. We're still feeling consequences of the 2008 recession, and during that businesses could at least remain open. This month, we're looking at the likely impact of the COVID epidemic on various industries, continuing today with the fashion industry. Much like our post about Education after COVID, we will talk about the wider consequences of the virus as well as those specific to the fashion world in particular. This way, you can prepare for the new world, whenever that might be.
We've gone through this before in a few other posts, but there are a handful of things that you can keep in mind for the whole of recovery from this crisis.
First, make sure that you have the funds that you need to stay afloat and pay your employees. It is still very tough to find the proper help from the government but check with the SBA and SCORE for assistance. Second, if and when you do reopen you will need to make sure that your customers know that you are open. If they do not, no one will know to find you. Finally, prepare for volatility. This is a very strange time, especially when it comes to employees. You won't want to be caught behind the eight-ball if everything goes pear-shaped once again.
Every industry faces their own specific issues and financial stresses. The fashion won't be any different. First, we will look at two massive problems that will likely face all sorts of fashion businesses. Then we will talk about our recommendations to deal with them
Two of the main points of stress that we want to point out are issues with stock and issues with person-to-person sales. First, there is the issue of trying to get rid of inventory that you were planning on selling when your business first closed, especially as the seasons have so rapidly changed. This is going to affect lots of people, but the fashion industry might get hit hard if they weren't able to prepare at all.
Second, it's going to be much more difficult to sell to people in person when it comes to finding the right sizes and the right looks for individuals. Will customers want to try on clothing that others have worn? And will they be able to come into the stores in person to buy? It's hard to predict right now.
Thankfully, we have some quick tips to think through about this.
Let's start with the issues of inventory. How do you get rid of the clothing that you're stuck with? Well this is certainly going to be tricky, but it probably isn't the end of the world. If you haven't already pivoted to e-commerce, you are already falling behind. But in the age of fast fashion, it might be tough even still. If that's true, find ways to sell your inventory at a discount. This is going to be a concern of lots of industries, but considering how fast fashion moves, it will be really disastrous. The spring and summer fashion seasons are very different, but trends are likely to change during all of this anyway.
Next, let's think through face-to-face sales. It's hard to sell a service or product when you don't have any in-person means of doing so. How do you know if someone is the right size, or the right color? What about returns? Can people try things on? If this is the case, prepare for new ways to have people try clothing on. Maybe it involves a different return policy, or a new way to sell in person versus online. Either way, prepare to change with the times. And work with other businesses in the fashion industry, because they will likely be facing many of the same issues.
Things might be bleak, but it isn't the end of the world. Your business can survive, and we want to help you do that.
Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkedIn profile