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Op-ed: Australian fashion reputation is on the line if we don’t support innovation

The art of distraction is in full play at the moment with everyone focused on the arrival of Amazon as their first distribution centre was recently announced for a Melbourne location.  

Aside from a number of bricks and mortar brands closing their doors and hoping for a white knight investor to swoop in and save the day, customers are maintaining a steady spend online and in-stores.  

This purchase growth is in fact forecasted to exceed $32billion in e-commerce sales just for Australia this year.  

It’s likely that more than half this number has already been realised, meaning there is an even greater demand that brands need to be equipped with the technology and infrastructure to support seamless browsing and purchasing.  In addition, there is increasing expectations to provide exceptional customer service with a memorable shopping experience.  

The pressure is on for many businesses to clearly communicate their value proposition if they consider Amazon a competitor, by alternatively looking at ways they can leverage the global platform to reach new audiences.

For a number of local brands it’s business as usual with a strong, loyal customer base and an engaged digital community.  Some of the largest online fashion retailers have only been around for 5-7 years such as: Showpo 2010; The Iconic 2011; and Stylerunner 2012. These businesses are agile and have grown significantly in a short time, scaling on par with demand. 

However, it’s time Australia did more than celebrate companies for their quick succession, and stop adding to the hype of unrealistic news in retail.  We need to ensure retailers are supported by the appropriate technological assistance to sustain growth for years to come.  

The reputation of Australian fashion needs to be taken seriously and protected to ensure longevity of established and potential international partnerships.  Innovation looks good on us, let’s keep it going.

Here are three simple tips to consider when developing a roadmap for innovation:

  1. Improve the business strategy - there are significantly more industry disruptors impacting businesses, so it's a good time to adjust short and long term goals for the business aligning with market positioning.   Consider different processes, journey maps, product iterations and technology solutions to adopt, adapt or avoid. 
     
  2. Brand uplift - it's a great opportunity to further define your business purpose and value proposition.  The more clearly you communicate these areas and differentiation in market, the simpler it is for consumers to make an informed decision who they shop with.  As a business owner, you're already across product reviews, try going back to basics and ask for feedback on the business and brand with your target audience.  
     
  3. Prioritising ideas - innovation is constantly evolving and that's how you should approach the business.  Brainstorm ways (Post-it notes are great for this) in which technology, process improvement and customer experiences could enhance your business.  Place them using a matrix to assess the risk and value of each potential idea to organise your priorities.  Keep in mind, the more ideas you can test, measure and analyse, the more likely you are to continuously improve the business and customer experiences.
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Written by Saskia Fairfull, Founding Member

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Saskia Fairfull