HOW ARE DESIGN BUSINESSES SURVIVING DURING CORONA VIRUS?
The spread of Corona Virus (COVID-19) has hit businesses after the government declared lockdown in countries all over world. Just like other businesses, design businesses too have taken a hit in this time of crisis. Though major design brands have jumped into action to produce and donate supplies that are currently in demand, there are businesses that have found ways to work and adapt to the new situation. Technology has played an instrumental part to carry on meetings and virtual tours for some, whereas some have shifted their focus to fill the market gaps for the insufficient supplies detrimental for many to combat the virus. Sales have fallen and some have abandoned orders, this has left many creative business owners in a lurch. They are assessing ways to combat the grave situation.
In the world of fashion some of the big names have designers reallocated their resources to meet the scarcity of health related requirements like face masks, sanitisers and hospital gowns alongwith huge donations to combat corona virus. The new situation has also led to some creative ways to tide through the crisis. Runway shows that were predominantly done in front of a live audience have taken to live streaming, a case in point is the Autumn/Winter 2020 collection by Giorgio Armani in front of empty seats, was instead streamed on its site, Instagram and Facebook handles. However his April cruise show has been postponed to November. Versace, Gucci and Prada cancelled their shows slated for May. Shanghai Fashion Week teamed up with Alibaba owned Tmall, a portal for designers and brands to showcase their collections virtually due to the cancellation of the event. Tmall, an already proven technique for up and coming designers provides shoppable live fashion shows that attract millions of viewers. Such a format helps to broaden the audience base.
By hinging towards production of face masks instead, many are finding ways to keep their businesses going while also serving a greater purpose. Amid the pandemic the fashion conscious brigade are on the lookout for masks that match their garments.
Incentivizing online sales during the pandemic also contributes towards creating a feel good factor. Trendy base-layer company Matek that relies heavily on sales at ski resorts which are now closed due to COVID-19’s spread has installed a widget on its website gives a percentage of purchases to a charity of someone’s choice in case people are shopping, they can feel good about what they are doing.
In the meantime, some fashion designers have begun conducting sales through Instagram Stories and Instagram Live to create excitement. This has led to a spike in traffic to the brands e-commerce sites during the lockdown. This traffic is essential to be converted into sales. Brands, have also begun offering free shipping. Offline stores have shifted businesses online for the time being with a set of heavy discounts to lure shoppers.
Interior Designers have taken the virtual route with Facetime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, GotoMeeting etc. to offer their services. Though the design process is being handled through the digital platform, physical samples essential for decision making are sent through mail or ground shipping. Job site visits and to check work on completion or installations is determined on case to case basis. Teams are meeting virtually and sharing photos and PowerPoint presentations to clients. Design firms are also offering more shop-at-home services for their clients, by negotiating with their vendors for great discounts and/or delayed payment options.
Though the jewellery industry has taken a hit due to the pandemic, with brands offering heavy discounts, the purchase is at an all time low. The time of lockdown has provided Jewellery designers a time to reconnect with their clients’ inorder to maintain lasting relationships and retain a loyal client base. They have also used online shopping sites, Whatsapp and social media to sell their work which is attached to a feel good factor wherein a certain percentage of the sale will go towards donations for a good cause like feeding the hungry, for supplies etc. during this crisis situation. A brand called Bucci had created a series of downloadable pages that can be printed for activities like origami and colouring for both children and adults.
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