The growing fashion ecommerce market is anticipated to reach $1.164 trillion by the end of 2025.
Specifically to the intimate apparel market, retail sales were $143 billion in 2017 and was expected to rise to $217 billion by 2022, according to Statista. This industry includes bras, underwear, sleepwear, loungewear, shapewear, thermal clothes and related products. And according to the Global Intimate Apparel Market Research Report, the market was estimated at $29.83 billion in 2020.
Businesses in the fashion industry, including intimate apparel businesses, should implement an inventory and order management system into their ecommerce operations to avoid overstocking products, minimize the chance of stockouts, ensure accurate and fast delivery to customers, reduce errors and overall, create a positive shopping journey for consumers.
An automated back-end system maximizes sales during popular selling times. For the intimate apparel industry, this includes holidays like Valentine’s Day, Singles Day, Mother’s Day and the holiday season in November and December. A system provides accurate historical data around these holidays, which is important in forecasting upcoming demand.
Having that clear picture of how products performed in the past gives an estimate of the amount of product needed in the future, assuming no major fluctuations occur. This means avoiding stockouts and overselling across sales channels, both of which can equal missed sales and even the loss of a customer returning down the road.
Another benefit using an inventory management system during these peak holidays is the ability to better ensure proper shipment and delivery. If a customer is ordering an item for a Valentine’s Day gift, for example, a vital part of that experience is receiving the product by the promised date. An inventory management system plays a major part in providing accurate delivery information and status updates so that expectations are met — or if something goes wrong, it is communicated transparently.
Peak Holidays for the Intimate Apparel Industry
There are key holidays intimate apparel companies should be ready for as best as possible. We’ll go through some of the statistics around these holidays showing just how important they are when it comes to consumers looking for products specifically for these holidays.
Mother’s Day spending in 2022 is anticipated to increase by $3.6 billion from 2021, to an astounding $31.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The average per-person spend is increasing to $245.76, and 84 percent plan to celebrate the holiday. More than one-third (36%) anticipate making their purchase online, says NRF.
Mother’s Day is always on the second Sunday in the month of May in the U.S.
Valentine’s Day spending was expected to reach $23.9 billion in 2022, the second highest year on record, according to a survey by the NRF and Prosper Insight & Analytics. More than half of U.S. consumers (53%) planned on celebrating in 2022, spending an average of $175.41 per person on gifts. The most popular shopping destination for the holiday is online, with 41% surveyed reporting that is their go-to for the holiday, according to NRF.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14every year.
Singles Day, founded in 1990, is a Chinese holiday celebrating being single, according to CLI, and is spreading internationally. On Singles Day, the idea is to self-indulge so shopping is a prime result. On Singles Day in 2019, two Chinese ecommerce sites (JD.com and TaoBao) generated $60 billion in sales. According to National Today, Singles Day is the highest grossing online shopping holiday in the world, surpassing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with $25 billion in sales in 2017.
Singles Day is celebrated on November 11each year.
The Holiday Season
In 2021, holiday sales reached a record $886.7 billion, growing 14.1 percent from the previous year and exceeding forecasts, according to the NRF. They also report year-over-year increases in all categories for 2021 with clothing and accessories leading the pack, up 33.1 percent.
According to the NRF in 2021, 90% of consumers planned to celebrate the winter holidays, including Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. The average consumer will spend $648 on gifts for family, friends and co-workers and $188 on other holiday purchases for themselves or their families. Holiday shopping starts earlier every year, with 61 percent starting in early November, according to NRF.
The holiday season is in November through December.
The Benefits of Selling on Multiple Sales Channels
Selling on multiple sales channels, including marketplaces, is one way to expose more potential customers to your brand. With a wide selection, marketplaces are often a go-to when it comes to finding an item. Nine out of ten consumers begin their shopping experiences by searching on marketplaces, according to Linnworks research.
More than $1 in every $6 in retail in the U.S. is spent online.
Jemma Tadd, Head of Fashion at eBay, says, “Selling through online marketplaces within a carefully branded space can really build buzz around fashion retailers.”
The idea of managing inventory across more than one or even many channels can be overwhelming and seem impossible for sellers to do it well.
One challenge with utilizing multiple sales channels and marketplaces is the need to process orders from each sales channel separately, which can mean a great deal of time spent. It’s also easy to make errors when logging in and out of sales channels to process orders.
Selling on multiple channels requires doing stock checks so that inventory levels are correctly adjusted across each platform. Unfortunately, this can result in a delay in replenishing stock when needed and a lack of visibility on real time levels – potentially leading to missed sales opportunities.
An inventory and order management system mitigates these situations by maintaining accurate inventory levels across each sales channel you sell on with automation. It makes your inventory and orders process seamless, so that you are not having to log in and out of different channels. Automating inventory and order management means no more errors, with the ability to invest time in other aspects of the business and ultimately, leads to a better customer experience.
Implement a Social Commerce Strategy
One big way that intimate apparel brands and sellers can seize the selling opportunity of peak holidays is fine tuning a social commerce strategy.
Using social media the right way can help widen an audience, tell a brand’s story and connect better with customers.
Linnworks research findings concludes that 76% of consumers have made impulse purchases via social channels, due to the ease of the purchase. Here are some other social commerce shopping statistics to consider from Linnworks research:
77% of social shoppers have discovered products through Facebook
35% of consumers have already made a purchase through social media
67% of social purchases were purchased via Facebook
56% of social purchases were via Instagram
82% say they enjoy the convenience of social shopping
Many consumers (approximately 70%) are discovering fashion while browsing social media or other multitasking, such as watching a YouTube video or browsing on Amazon, according to Linnworks research. The global fashion influencer marketing market size is anticipated to reach $9.2 billion by 2026. According to research from SocialPubli, and 89% of marketers think influencer marketing is effective.
Here’s a breakdown of how consumers are shopping on various social channels:
Facebook & Instagram: Facebook Shops allows you to sell on both Facebook and Instagram. When a customer discovers a product, they can purchase it directly in the app or on your website.
YouTube: Product reviews and unboxings have the option to buy directly on the app with Buy on Google.
Pinterest: Shoppable pins and a program featuring recommendations from influencers and publishers in fashion and lifestyle.
Snapchat: Clothing and accessory immersive shopping directly on the app.
TikTok: Shop directly on TikTok in a partnership with Shopify.
How an inventory management system works
Efficient automated management of inventory is vital to any ecommerce businesses. As this article on inventory management points out, manually managing inventory becomes difficult and time consuming when that time could be better spent growing your business.
An inventory and order management system simplifies operations, including streamlining packing and shipping, delivery and returns. In terms of business planning, historical data generates specific reports to businesses to make educated decisions on how much, or how little, of a product may be needed during various seasons.
Why use an automated inventory and order management system
Prioritize Consumer Convenience
According to Linnworks research, 76% of customers expect convenience when shopping, saying that convenience is their key factor when selecting a retailer. In fact, nine out of ten consumers will prioritize using a retail site that offers a seamless experience, and 81 percent of shoppers look for a cross-device ecommerce experience that is frictionless. More than half (58%) have stopped using ecommerce sites completely that are inconvenient to use.
A result of an inventory management system is having accurate listings across all sales channels and avoiding stockouts. This means that if a customer is going to purchase a product but there is a stockout, that affects the customer and produces a negative experience. When stockouts happen, it’s frustrating—especially when a customer wants an item for a holiday.
Another benefit of automation is a more efficient shipping and delivery experience. Customers expect fast shipping and an accurate and honest timeline of when a product should arrive.
Make it Easier to Add New Sales Channels
Using an inventory management system, such as Linnworks, can simplify adding new sales channels —taking away the stress of experimenting with a new channel or the dread of trying to juggle multiple channels. It gives business an easy way to get started on a new sales channel or to test out a new marketplace.
Improve Customer Experience
A big part of a good customer experience is having the product when the buyer wants it. Proper real-time inventory management avoids stockouts, which as mentioned earlier causes a negative experience for customers. Stockouts also lead to missed out sales.
Having the ability to raise a flag to shoppers that an item is in “limited availability” gives customers transparent information about the availability of a specific product to help inform their buying decision.
For the post-purchase experience, an inventory management system helps make the return and exchange process easy for both the business abd tge customer. The returns process is important, with 72% of consumers influenced by a return policy, according to Linnworks research.
One way to help reduce the need for returns include consumer reviews specific to size, a size guide, context images, live chat assistance, high-resolution images and product video, according to McKinsey.
Meet Delivery Expectations
According to Linnworks research, 95% of shoppers want convenient delivery options and say it is a major factor in the retailers they use.
This is of course especially significant for specific holidays. If a daughter buys her mom a robe for Mother’s Day, she wants the confidence in knowing that it’s going to reach her on the day she expects so it arrives in time for the holiday.
If a seller knows exactly where the stock is, down to the location on a shelf, it makes getting that package out that much easier.
Transparency in customer communications on delivery is needed for customers to feel positive about your brand. Keeping customers informed when the delivery will get to them with email updates is easier to do with an automated system.
Utilize Insights to Forecast Demand
Avoid ordering too much of a product that has low sales volumes with accurate forecasting in an inventory and order management system. This can also reduce the possibility of understocking.
Forecasting is especially something to take into consideration when planning for specific occasions, such as Mother’s Day and Singles Day, and specific time periods, such as the holiday season. Based on the time period, sellers can use their historical sales data by using a demand forecasting tool that provides the spreadsheet reports you would normally have to spend hours creating.
Proper forecasting means you save both time and money with the ability to process orders faster and more efficiently.
Streamline Marketing Efforts
Once you know the type of products in demand, you can better tailor marketing strategies. Sellers may choose to implement paid ad campaigns during the time period customers are searching for and buying that product.
Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Singles Day and the holiday season can be a big time for the intimate apparel industry. Consumers are shopping for related products for a significant other, for themselves and for friends and family. Incorporating improvements such as inventory management automation and accurate forecasting can help make these time periods a smoother experience.