E-Commerce Rebounds: Is Your Company Ready?

If the customer is always king in apparel, he sure seems more and more likely to prefer doing his shopping straight from the throne.

E-commerce is back -- in a big way. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales topped $50 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.


The numbers have been increasing steadily since bottoming out dramatically during the teeth of the recession in early-2008. But while the $50 billion mark is a nice, round milestone, it’s the pace of growth that’s most notable. E-commerce grew by 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone – the largest increase since 2006, several business cycles before the recession hit.

The next set of figures released after this month should look similarly optimistic. The months leading up to Christmas generally churn out the best numbers, so the pace of growth might slow somewhat. But positive employment numbers and other retail numbers since the beginning of 2012 might offset the traditional post-Christmas drop off.

Regardless, apparel e-commerce isn’t going away. According to Slate:

In general, the trajectory in this sector is extremely impressive as you can see above. My view of the recession is that it’s overwhelmingly about a demand shortfall, but I do think non-food brick and mortar retailing is never going to “come back” the way it was before.

In other words, demand is back, and e-commerce is the new preferred method for satisfying it.

For apparel companies, e-commerce presents a unique set of challenges and supply chain management requirements. Customers have more choices at their fingertips, more ability to quickly find good deals, and a different expectation for their shopping experience. This means apparel companies need to be fully up-to-speed with the latest technological advantages and maintain nimbler, more efficient supply chains and apparel distribution capabilities.

We’ll explore some of the specific challenges presented by apparel e-commerce in the coming weeks. But if you feel like your company is unprepared for this new reality, give us a call. Apparel e-commerce isn’t just about surviving – it presents new opportunities to thrive. We can help.

Posted: 3/29/2012 11:33:33 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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