May 16 2023
In this episode, we discussed fashion retail – consumption patterns, operational complexity and much more – in one of the industry’s most attractive markets, the East Asian region. To do so, we interviewed an expert in the region, with more than 20 years of retail experience including sourcing, production, product development, purchasing and design. She is Nina Nilsson, and has worked in operations for brands such as H&M, KappAhl and 6IXTY8IGHT.
Although originally from Sweden, she has been living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. So, we start the interview by talking about the Hong Kong market and its consumers. “Hong Kong consumers spend a lot of time online doing research before they shop,” explains our interviewee. These consumers are also very demanding when they go to the store, a characteristic they share with those in neighboring countries.
“The asian customer has a higher demand on personalised service when they come to the store. They quite often want to speak to someone on the floor, they have a lot of questions about the products and they also expect a very swift service,” says Nilsson. That’s why having the right person at the right time “is key.” “The customer here is expecting a face to face service when coming to the store. So, the just in time factor is really important”, she adds.
Another factor that Nilsson highlights as key is technology. It will be the “brands that have a clear picture of what services can be taken care of by AI or other digital tools, and what services need to be taken care of face to face, with a human person” that will be successful. “Retailers have to make sure that they keep the tasks that can be automatic that they are automized, so the team that works in the stores can have enough time to serve the customer face to face and gave 100% attention and service” she points out.
She also highlights the challenge of achieving “a true seamless experience”, “so, the brand needs to present itself in the same way online and offline”. And now both are converging, as in the case of click and collect, which is booming in the region, according to our guest.
In this regard, Nilsson says that one of today’s major challenges in fashion retail is agility. “That’s why a lot of retailers today are struggling, because they’re not agile enough. They cannot act very quickly,” she says.
And she concludes that, to maintain a leadership position in fashion retail, where everything is “moving very fast,” “a brand needs to be relevant, keep evolving, keep learning, new services, new products.”
As for her experience in leadership positions in the retail industry, “there’s not enough women,” she observes, noting how curious it is in an industry where women represent the majority of consumers.
Listen to the entire conversation to explore more insights on fashion retail in the East Asian region. And don’t forget to subscribe and share this episode of RETALES, from retailers to retailers.