There is no doubt that since the advent of Covid-19 life has changed for all businesses, and the lingerie manufacturers and retailers whose raison d’être is to provide an intimate, highly personal and expertly fitted product (often in an intimate one-to-one environment), could be forgiven for thinking that they are amongst the hardest hit. So, what will the future hold? This is of course uncharted territory for all of us and the answer to that question does not come easily. One thing though is for sure – life for lingerie businesses will not be the same again.
As UK lingerie retailers approached the end of their first month of trade after the national lockdown, business consultant Helen Masters, of Pudding Lingerie Consultancy, took to the streets (and of course to Zoom) to find out how lingerie, swimwear, nightwear and hosiery brands and retailers are adapting in order to survive, and hopefully thrive, post Covid-19. “I’m in the fortunate position to be able to get the lowdown ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as I work with lots of brands and retailers- and that’s exactly what I’ve done,” Helen says.
Helen interviewed a range of British intimate apparel brands and retailers thereby discovering what the new normal might look like for the lingerie world, and has also compiled the Top Tips she’s gathered from across our industry for success post Covid.
Top Tips to Survive & Thrive Post Covid 19
We all know about the need to socially distance in store & quarantine items tried on, plus the challenge posed by not being able to offer the normal face to face bra fitting service the way we used to do. But beyond dealing with the ‘hygiene’ issues, how are businesses faring and what are their top tips to rise to the challenges posed by Covid-19? The picture that emerges is one where the ‘New World Embracers’ – those embracing and using the change for good of their customers and business, rather than trying to hang on to the old style of operating – are the early winners.
It is possibly not surprising to see that there are still two distinct viewpoints, with some people wanting to persevere with pre-Covid business models. As many participants commented, the changes in our industry are both positive and negative – many are sad to have lost some closeness to customers but also see lots of positives in moving our industry forward via the use of technology. What emerges from those who are both surviving and actually starting to thrive, is a clear message:
Get online to survive! And do it well
It isn’t enough to just have a website and a few images. Brands and retailers need highly detailed and accurate imagery and descriptions to support remote sales and minimise returns
Make a virtue out of the new normal
The restrictions actually lend themselves to personal one to one service in store, allowing more time with customers who are by appointment only and more down time to send proactively marketing to the rest of the customer base by phone, email, zoom, what’s app, face time and social media if footfall is lower (with free postage to boot) – all opportunities for bigger sales.
Be bold and proactive
Don’t wait for customers to come back – give them reasons to come back. Customers clearly still want to shop in store too so make them feel safe and secure, offer a one to one personal shopper service, and of course, buy carefully, but do buy!!
Work in partnership with your key stakeholders
Both the manufacturers and retailers having more success are those who are open, upfront and working in partnership with each other for the good of the industry as a whole – we are all in this together and need to behave that way.
Take a long-term view and be prepared to think out of the box
Many bigger stores and brands are seeing sales down to 50% of previous levels and simply have to adapt to survive – creating even stronger experiences in store, while also embracing non-traditional channels is a must for the big names too.
Over the course of the week Underlines will share the key survey findings (survey carried out across UK online retailers, bricks and mortar retailers and manufacturers during July 2020 – specific results remain anonymous in line with requests for anonymity from some participants). Click here to read parts two, three and four of this four-part feature.