Apparel is one retail sector that is, and for some time, has been truly global in nature. Fashion and clothing are woven into cultural norms across the globe, making them a natural point of emotional connection with shoppers and brands. With international players such as Inditex and H&M (and increasingly, Amazon) present in most of the developed world, the intensifying competition in the global apparel market is pushing retailers and brands to deliver more innovations faster in this retail segment than in many others. In fact, apparel is often the source of more innovation since retailers and brands must get extra creative to grow their businesses in a highly competitive environment.

Even though apparel is a discretionary category, all retailers can learn something from looking at best practices in apparel retailing. Quite often, retailers selling shoes face the same challenges as retailers selling soup: How do I connect authentically with shoppers? How should I sell in an omnichannel environment? How can I make the shopping experience better, both in store and out? 

In Kantar Retail’s latest global effort, 2017 Global Apparel Trends: Lessons in Merchandising and Innovation in and Beyond Apparel, we’ve leveraged our global footprint and knowledge to bring together the top examples of apparel retailing from around the world to inspire you to think outside the box when looking for sources of innovation and creative merchandising. Across all markets, innovation was largely driven by four core themes:

  • Aligning culturally and authentically with shoppers
  • Connecting shoppers to the planet, to each other, and to themselves
  • Enhancing the shopper experience
  • Enhancing the in-store experience

It’s no surprise that all of these themes center squarely on shoppers who have taken full control of the retail environment and whose rapid change in shopping habits and preferences is fueling most of the demand for innovation.

Our take: Whether your business sells shoes or soup, dresses or drill bits, you can learn a lot from watching how some of the industry’s most forward-thinking businesses are facing the same challenges across the globe. Apparel retailers and brands are driving innovation by creating an authentic voice, connecting to what matters most, being channel-agnostic, and focusing on the shopper. Their strategies for doing so — namely, using technology, culture, and personalization — provide a guidepost for where the overall retail industry is heading. The best-positioned retailers and brands will heed these lessons early.

For more information, please contact:

Tiffany Hogan, Senior Analyst


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