The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the shopping behavior of Chinese apparel consumers. As per Innovation in Textiles, almost 60 per cent consumers now prefer shopping online even though most physical stores have reopened. Chinese consumers have adapted themselves online shopping, and the only solution for brands is to boost their e-commerce operations.
This shift to online shopping was in motion even before 2020, the pandemic has simply accelerated this trend, says SGS, one of the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification companies, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. With over 89,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,600 offices and laboratories around the world. As per the company, the acceleration has not only been dramatic but also global. In 2018, only 22 per cent of US citizens shopped online but in 2020 the figure shot up to 42 per cent. SGS does not expect the trend to reverse even after things return to normal.
Transparency and sustainability benefits of online retail
Online retailing offers many benefits to consumers. As per Chinese showroom agency DFO, a virtual showroom can reach a wider audience than physical ones. It can also offer high shoppers, wider choice, and a comfortable and safe shopping experience. DFO utilized livestreaming to reach 95 per cent of all Chinese buyers during Paris Fashion Week in 2020. This helped it double buyers and hit 80 per cent of its sales targets, with 95 per cent of those sales being made online.
The upcoming Paris Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 21/22 plans to continue with this trend by holding 93 of its shows online. Online shopping enables consumers to make better purchase judgments as it provides them complete product information. It also ensures transparency in their purchases and helps consumers choose sustainable and better quality products. Post pandemic, online shopping will continue to accelerate while offline retail is expected to drop between 8 to 13 per cent in Europe and between 22 and 27 per cent in the US.
Navigating complexities of China’s retail industry
China’s growing middle class and its extensive social media infrastructure have created a highly digitalized retail ecosystem in the country. The Chinese online retail industry accounted for a quarter of all its sales in 2019 and was estimated to be worth $1.5 trillion. Its omnichannel mode of retail uses a wide variety of mechanisms to sell to consumers.
One such mode is the SGS China Solution which helps brands navigate the complexity of national and international regulations. The SGS China Omnichannel Solution trains brands to comply with product development regulations, rules of material and product testing, label reviews, factory audits, etc. It also helps brands engage consumers through livestreaming events and trusted certification labels such as the SGS Independently Checked Mark (IC Mark). Another of its benefits includes the facility to analyze return and failure rate and check samples.