Field Notes: Folk x Leon Bailey-Green Retail

Folk talks to Leon Bailey-Green - retail publisher, networker, and recent edition to Drapers 30 under 30 - about what's headed for online fashion retailers in the coming year, and how to embrace the change.

Q/ So, how do you see online fashion retailing at the moment?

Fashion eCommerce has grown rapidly over the last few years.

The general focus we’re seeing for retailers now is on getting an international footprint, improving fulfilment options and keeping up with the rapid changes in technology.

Q/ Which of today's technology trends do you see being a priority for online fashion retailers to embrace?

Trends are ultimately up to the customer - their priorities are those where the effort to take part offers the customer the most reward.

The trick for retailers is knowing what actually adds value for their customers.

To get that right they need to really know their customers in the first place, which is why data, and its manipulation, is really important.

Q/ There's an awful lot of talk about 'Big Data" at the moment. How significant do you feel this is for the fashion eCommerce sector?

Big data means different things to different people. With so much data available, it’s understandable that technology companies are looking to make that data usable.

The use of data will give retailers, brands and manufacturers opportunities to make better decisions, such as stock management and fulfilment, to make business operations more efficient.

Q/ What about the increasing trend of 'show-rooming'; do you think that's all bricks and mortar stores will become? Will consumers always want to shop in store or just browse?

I think there will be a mix.

Shopping via mobiles, tablets and desktops is a trend right now, just like out of town shopping centres were a trend, too.

Something else will undoubtedly come along in the future to threaten online shopping as we know it today.

We can probably guess it will be digitally led, and is likely to involve 3D printing.

Q/ While many retailers are ensuring their eCommerce sites are responsive to make the most of the mobile market, why do you think some fashion retailers still aren't making the change? Should they?

The customer doesn’t know what responsive is, all they care about is having a good experience on all platforms, and that can be responsive or a set of different websites.

There isn’t a one size fits all.

I’ve had some retailers tell me responsive is where they want to go, while others say it is restrictive.

It’s quite a challenge for a business to justify changing their website for a new trend, as there are so many new technology trends emerging all the time.

Q/ Wearable tech - another exciting concept, particularly for the fashion sector. Where do you think it's headed?

Apple, Google and Samsung are on a treadmill of trying to invent the next big thing after the touchscreen smartphone.

I think 3D printing will have a bigger impact in the long term and is much more interesting.

3D printing has the possibility to revolutionise the industry; it will impact our consumer culture and has the potential to make people more self-sufficient as well.

Wearable tech is likely to be all about ‘self’, which is a continuation of how we use tech today with smartphones and social networking.

Q/ As an influential blogger and publisher yourself, you can appreciate the value of great content - what's your advice for fashion retailers beginning to approach content in the coming year?

Stand out.

Almost every retailer is producing content of some sort so it’s important to stand out.

That can be through stunning imagery, providing previously unknown information, or having a unique opinion or perspective. It is tricky though, as most brands want to avoid potential controversy.

Q/ We put stories at the forefront of everything we do at Folk. What do you feel is the role of stories in fashion eCommerce?

Stories have to have something the customer wants to buy into.

Customers want to interact with brands that increase or improve their own idea of themselves.

Brand stories should assist them in creating the image they have or want.

Q/ Finally, which fashion retailers do you think are getting it right at the moment and why?

Far too many to mention are all getting it right in their own way.

We've reached a point where there’s something everyone can learn from each other.