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By: Emily Cox

With an increasing number of international brands choosing Australia as a destination to expand their retail operations, consumers have been spoilt for choice in terms of brands, designs and value. However, competition has intensified, with local retailers forced to respond to the heightened competition with enhanced e-commerce offerings, discounting and improved customer service. The shopping experience has become increasingly important for consumers, with retailers enhancing their bricks-and-mortar offerings to claw back sales lost to foreign competitors and online retailing. Many apparel companies are offering interactive experiences, digital displays, personal shoppers and redesigned store layouts to win back customers.

In 2015, Specialty Fashion Group successfully rolled out “Click and Collect” throughout its entire store network, allowing customers to order online and pick up their purchases at their preferred store any day of the week. The company also invested in new and refurbished stores during 2015. Similarly, mass merchandiser Target is focusing on its in-store experience, with new-look stores featuring in-store baristas, click and collect, free personal service, Style Me, and a custom T-shirt printing station, allowing customers to have a custom T-shirt printed from A$14.

Outlook

The in-store experience is anticipated to be a key focus for apparel companies with this strategy having a strong influence on purchasing decisions. Apparel manufacturers are expected to take a holistic approach to their strategies, enhancing both their digital and in-store offerings. Apparel companies will use social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as a low-cost brand-building tool to further support their strategies. Offerings such as personal shoppers, digital displays and click and collect will become the norm as retailers look to bring customers back to their stores. This will be further supported by the depreciating Australian dollar which is encouraging consumers to shop locally.

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