How Fashion Business Owners Can Adapt During COVID-19

Published/Updated on:
December 28, 2020
This year has been chaotic and turbulent for us all, and as the year finally draws to a close, we, as a nation, prepare to open up further in Phase 3 that will commence on December 28th 2020. This welcome news comes after months of strict safe distancing measures designed to safeguard the wellbeing of our community. From adapting to work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, to keeping our social gatherings to a maximum of 5 guests, and getting used to wearing a mask everywhere we go, the community has gone above and beyond to comply with our government’s policies, and we have more to look forward to this festive season.Check out this handy infographic by Today Online that details the various guidelines for Phase 3!

The Business Angle

Businesses have undoubtedly been hit hard by the global pandemic – as retrenchments and job uncertainty soar, consumers are less willing to indulge. If there’s anything these tough times have shown, it’s the resilience and innovative spirit that businesses have to adapt to the pandemic conditions and shift towards a new normal of shopping. The circuit breaker period truly tested businesses as they scrambled to shift to online operations and make their online shopping experience more robust and efficient.

The Business Angle

From the F&B industry delivering meal sets for families to recreate a special dining experience at home, to leather businesses selling do-it-yourself (DIY) leather crafting kits, businesses across Singapore quickly shifted gears to ride the pandemic wave. Phase 2 reopening meant that stores could welcome their customers back to the in-person shopping experience, all whilst adhering to contact tracing measures, frequent sanitising of the store, and limiting the number of customers in a store at any one time. Though we are unlikely to see a huge shift back to pre-COVID times so soon, Phase 3 represents a glimmer of hope for businesses to begin recovering from the tough year.

How, you might wonder, have businesses been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? What skills do businesses need to master to successfully adapt?

Making Stronger, (Socially Distant) Connections

Even with safe-distancing measures and high sanitation standards, many consumers may still feel safer shopping in the comfort of their own homes. In response to this, many fashion brands have strengthened their online presence. The Tinsel Rack, for example, in addition to continuing their tradition of regular online releases, also engaged followers from home with their “Day in the Life” videos featuring their founders, as well as try on sessions and styling tips. The extra effort placed into their social media presence, coupled with the high production quality, not only engages their customer base more, but also assures them of the quality and experience of purchasing their garments. Especially at a time where we are so socially distant, adopting a more personal and intimate approach to connecting with one’s customers is exactly what more businesses can do.

Making Stronger, (Socially Distant) Connections

This year also saw a significant increase in activewear purchases – from being cooped up at home during the circuit breaker to trying to find a slot at often over-booked gyms, our nation has started getting more invested in leading a healthy lifestyle. Sure, we may have home workout videos from Chloe Ting and Pamela Reif to follow, but activewear brands have also gone above and beyond to host Instagram live workout and yoga sessions so their follower base can get healthy together. Take it from Kydra who collaborated with UpperCut Boxing to host a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Instagram live session during the circuit breaker, or Yumi Active who hosted a series of beginner-friendly yoga and stretch live sessions with various instructors. With the power of social media on their side, these brands have managed to take advantage of the shift in consumer lifestyle to connect with their followers.

Mastering the skill of social media presence may seem tricky at first, but courses such as TaF.tc’s Social Media Marketing and Inbound Marketing make the process much more straightforward and intuitive. With the right skills, you too can bridge the gap between your business and customer base and forge strong connections across the digital realm.

The Online Experience

If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught businesses, it’s that online shopping is growing like never before. This means that businesses must ensure that a memorable shopping experience for their customers extends beyond the physical stores onto the digital realm. It might seem simple, but just by tweaking your online store to have an effective user interface is imperative to ensuring that customers can make purchases seamlessly. By ensuring great frontend design and seamless backend processes, and running effective online ad campaigns, businesses can not only retain their existing customer base, but grow it through their online experience as well.

Online shopping is growing like never before

Businesses need to make mindful and intentional decisions when it comes to upgrading their online shopping experience. Fret not, TaF.tc’s courses in the field of Fashion Business such as Search Engine Optimisation and E-Fashion Business are here to help you get started with cementing your presence for online shoppers.

These courses teach you invaluable skills in ensuring that your products reach the right audience, and that you can truly cater to your clientele whilst simultaneously growing your customer base. Integrating payment methods such as Shopify also allows your customers to carry out a seamless transaction, ultimately contributing to the perfect pairing of convenience and quality.

Always Upgrading

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singaporean government has played an incredibly active role in ensuring that businesses are supported. There are a variety of schemes available for business owners to upgrade their employees through a variety of courses across industries, and TaF.tc is proud to be one of the institutions that are a part of these programs.

We’ve worked with multiple local fashion brands such as Yumi Active, Love Bonito, and more, under programmes such as the Place and Train Conversion Programme that aims to upskill workers through our diploma programmes together with salary support. Additionally, the absentee payroll program has allowed business owners to send multiple employees for niche upskilling in specific fields, with some employees learning new marketing skills, while others strengthen their technical and fashion design skills.

Always upgrading even during the pandemic

COVID-19 has shown us how vital adaptability is to staying afloat, and even ahead of the game. Just as we reimagine social gatherings and holidaying in our personal lives, businesses must similarly reimagine what the shopping experience looks like, and the role digitalisation plays in the fashion industry, from the production process and supply chain to the customer experience. As TaF.tc’s own CE, Doreen Tan, said at our August Open House 2020, “Do reimagine how to shop in a digital world, don’t just digitise the shopping process from a physical world.”

Preparing You For the Digital World of Fashion

Now that you understand why adaptability and upskilling oneself is vital, you might be asking how TaF.tc fits into that equation. As a fashion school that’s been in the business for almost 4 decades, TaF.tc is uniquely positioned to imbue our students with the necessary skills to embark on the journey of digitalisation, especially after having gone through that process ourselves in the early 2000s. But what do our own diploma graduates have to say?

Clara Han, founder of Oleah Shoes, echoed our sentiments about moving to the digital realm: “it’s about translating the physical thing onto the virtual and to still have our followers engaged.”

Josephine, founder of Qiqing Qipao acknowledged the importance of technology in adapting to the new normal, “We have these new platforms, that we can move on to for not just the consultations but also the physical measurements that can be brought online.” She also noted the silver lining – not having an online store previously, Josephine made use of the government grants during this time to hop onto the e-commerce front for Qiqing Qipao.

Preparing You For the Digital World of Fashion

Through initiatives such as government grants as well as THE LABEL SG, an online platform started for local designers and TaF.tc alumni to sell their apparels, one can see how the fashion industry continues to be supported through these trying times. Whilst digitalisation may not have been such a pressing concern in the past, the global pandemic has underscored how rapidly the retail scene is changing. When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. Let this be your opportunity to take advantage of such strong winds with TaF.tc’s Diploma in Fashion Business, so you can better equip yourself for the inevitable shift onto the virtual realm.

Contact Meng Qian

Not sure where to begin? Schedule a call or email our Program Advisor, Meng Qian, who will be happy to answer any of your questions about the diploma programs, and look out for our upcoming Open House happening in March 2021! You can also check out the replays of our panel discussions during our August 2020 Open House here.

Shanna Kaur

Hello! I am Shanna, a freelance copywriter for TaF.tc. I'm currently a second year student at Yale-NUS College, majoring in Global Affairs, and I interned with TaF.tc as a Business Development Representative during my freshman summer. Currently, I am helping the TaF.tc marketing team create meaningful content for the company blog to better engage with our audience. I'm a huge people person, so I love working towards engaging with all kinds of people. Recently, I've also been interested in user-centric design, and have had the opportunity to work on UI/UX projects during college. I'm a kopi bing siew dai enthusiast, and love playing ultimate frisbee or eating good food with friends!

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