Did the pandemic reshape the fashion industry? Some would argue it merely deepened the divide.

According to a recent McKinsey & Company article, “Even before the crisis, [fashion] companies that were digitally and analytically mature outperformed competitors…The COVID-19 crisis has only widened the gap between industry leaders and laggards.”

How do fashion leaders push ahead? In many cases, it’s by prioritizing data with Master Data Management (MDM).

Driving Fashion Digital Transformation with MDM

There are many ways that master data management can help drive digital transformation, but when it comes to fashion, the following three areas stand out.

  1. Start with a Product Data Foundation.

Fashion brands know a thing or two about attribute overload. Constant product cycles mean the volume, variety, and velocity of product data continues to increase. This product data is essential for all back-end systems (merchandising, line planning, supply chain, etc.), as well as front-end customer experiences.

Without the right foundation of Product data, it’s nearly impossible to deliver an excellent eCommerce experience. MDM helps ensure accurate, consistent product details are shared everywhere your customers view and purchase your products.

One of our clients, a major Athleisure brand, experienced this during the pandemic. They had the “single view” of data necessary to deliver and adapt their eCommerce experiences. Digital purchases sustained their operations throughout the pandemic, helping them weather the storm.

The bottom line? Digital transformation relies on a strong product data foundation.

  1. Amp Up Omnichannel.

A foundation of trusted product data is a great start – but savvy shoppers demand much more. Fashion providers can leverage MDM to meet customers along their (often winding) path to product discovery, research, fulfillment, and beyond.

Product Discoverability: With a PIM solution, product details are more granular. This allows search tools to return results that better match your customers’ expectations.

Product Research: Today’s shoppers are research-obsessed. MDM helps deliver the rich product information customers expect, like:

  • Detailed descriptions to help shoppers determine the correct size, placement, etc.
  • Upselling, cross-selling, retailer recommendations, and relevant product bundles.
  • Searchable peer reviews with product tags, images, etc.

Fulfillment: Online shoppers want broader fulfillment options – including delivery, “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” or “Ship-to-Store.” They may also wish to reserve an apparel item online, then try it in-store before purchasing. With MDM, you can provide customers with accurate inventory and product availability to power their preferred fulfillment options.

Fun Experiences: Fashion is often about brand engagement and having fun. For example, social media is a great place to build brand loyalty, even if consumers don’t buy via that channel. MDM with Digital Asset Management (DAM) helps brands deliver compelling content that goes beyond basic product specs and pricing – like various images, 360-degree views, videos, and even virtual 3D and augmented reality (AR) experiences.

Personalization: Finally, fashion providers can deliver a personalized online experience with configurable products. For example, a customer may select a jacket style, which populates related options like fabrics, sizes, colors, and embellishments. With each choice, the platform generates new options based on previous selections. In the end, the customer has a product tailor-made for them, with a unique SKU for order management. And it’s all driven with MDM!

  1. Understand Your (Changing) Customer.

One of the biggest challenges in fashion is adapting to new customer preferences and habits. Namely, Millennial and Gen Z shoppers.

Gen Z, in particular, is made up of true digital natives. WWD notes, “intuitively innovative, uber-productive, goal-oriented and realistic, they are growing to be savvy consumers. Businesses hoping to connect with them need to understand who they are and how they are about to turn today’s market on its head.”

Understanding your customer starts with a central view of customer data.  Capturing customer interaction and data using an MDM platform helps track information around style, buying habits, past purchases, demographics, life events, and more. Companies can leverage this data to provide personalized, channel-specific experiences.

Where will land when the dust settles?

According to McKinsey & Company, “Some apparel, fashion, and luxury companies won’t survive the current crisis; others will emerge better positioned for the future. Much will depend on their digital and analytics capabilities.”

So, where will you land? Your digital and data know-how is a great predictor.

“Digital is not only an increasingly important sales channel; it can also help companies adapt cost structures and make each step of the value chain better, faster, and cheaper,” the article states. “The fundamental enabler to all this will be data—the transparency, governance, and accuracy of which have never been more important.”

Where can you start? Often, it’s just a conversation. We’ve helped fashion enterprises take the essential steps to data management, implementing a “walk, crawl, run” approach that helps them accelerate their digital transformation. Are you ready for your digital transformation? Let us help quite you through your journey – contact us.