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Schule Jaehn

Frankfurt am Main, 19.11.2021 12:00:00

So how will we buy fashion goods and other accessories in the future? Mainly online? And what will the perfect online shopping experience look like? Will there still be such a thing as high-street shops? And if there is, what kind of experience will they have to offer to attract customers and sellers? On Thursday 11 November 2021, Felix Jahn, eCommerce Director at s.Oliver, and Christian Schulze, Professor of Marketing at Frankfurt School, met together on the Frankfurt School campus to discuss fashion-industry trends, including buying behaviour and strategies, with students and alumni.

In response to the pandemic, many fashion brands shifted the focus of their selling operations to the internet as they strove to stay in touch with their customers. And even now, despite the fact that shops and retail outlets are open again, many consumers continue to shop online – especially older consumers, who previously formed a much smaller proportion of e-commerce users. Based on a survey of more than 1,000 online stores in six countries, a study co-authored by Christian Schulze with Maximilian Kaiser, Florian Elsässer and Koen Pauwels shows that following the various COVID lockdowns, the volume of online shopping by senior citizens has more than doubled. But the lockdowns have also caused a steady growth in online shopping activity among younger target age groups – a trend that is throwing up new challenges for bricks-and-mortar retailers.

In the fashion industry in particular, online shopping will not make high-street shops redundant – but it will change them, believes Felix Jahn. “It’ll be more about giving the customer a brand experience, plus a feel for the brand colours and fabrics, for example. New technologies will encourage and personalise in-store shopping by, for instance, addressing customers individually using clienteling, and by delivering more styles directly to the home.”

But the online shopping experience will also change – future e-tailing will be much more personal and “real” thanks to new technologies such as virtual fitting rooms. “We’re well on the way to a scenario in which customers will be able to use an app or website to find garments in their actual size and try them on virtually, so they fit right away and returns become a thing of the past,” adds Felix Jahn.

He is also very positive about the complementary sale of fashion via online marketplaces like AboutYou, Otto or Zalando. “We run our own app and web shops, but we also run very successful sales operations via online platforms and marketplaces, because we’ve got a presence wherever our customers feel comfortable.” Enabling visitors to enter a virtual shop in an online marketplace, complete with a suitably branded look and feel, and using such a shop to successfully present and sell fashion is, he believes, one probable future scenario.