As London Fashion Week opens, Natalie Massanet, Chairman of the British Fashion Council and founder of Net-A-Porter calls upon designers to harness technology to sell their brands online to reach a worldwide market and grow their businesses.
Although figures are improving, research by the BFC shows that only 43% of London Fashion Week designers have e-commerce sites.
Online sales in the UK account for 17% of total spending (up 4% for 2014) according to Mintel figures, but it’s no surprise to us that young designers and brands are finding it hard to get their business online.
At Message we work with a lot of brands who are either just starting out or who are just experiencing enough success to have freed up budget to improve their online offering. Often they have been burnt by stand alone designers who have produced sites which haven’t performed. We are approached on a depressingly regular basis by people who have been sold really quite expensive e-commerce systems, only to find they haven’t delivered.
More often than not though they are just ready to take it up a notch and take their business to the next level. What these smaller companies and start ups all have in common is that they are a little intimidated by the prospect of reaching a wider audience and selling online.
It’s often not just the technology that worries them. Sometimes they feel overwhelmed by the prospect of keeping up to date with social media, creating endless updated content or managing to fulfil orders online and in store.
Budget is nearly always a big concern.
It’s no wonder start ups find it hard to venture out there into the world of e-commerce. Putting your brand online can feel like a massive undertaking, particularly if you’re head down in the design and creation of new products or dealing with supply chains and manufacturers. It’s great that the BFC are supporting designers but we hope that the support and advice will extend to advising on all the issues surrounding selling online, and not just the more obvious requirements, like a good checkout.
The development of our e-commerce platform Mothership was driven by the desire to offer affordable but stylish, robust and scalable solutions. We always work closely with clients to establish what they need now, for the next year and beyond; Mothership’s modular system allows long term development for a small initial investment, and a monthly licence agreement ensures you are supported, advised and upgraded regularly and reliably as you need.