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In her latest piece for WhichPLM, regular contributor Dakota Murphey, shares some of the ways and technologies that independent fashion businesses are using to harness new customers, whilst keeping their current ones loyal.

The fashion industry is one that’s centred on change. It’s in a state of constant evolution.No stranger to innovation, in recent years it’s been independent brands that have been leading the shift to a tech-focused sector that utilises digital tools to bring about trends and raise awareness of issues like sustainability.

What sets indie brands apart from high street brands is the way in which they approach engagement with their followers and consumers. Using tools like social media, innovative software and video content to reach audiences, their marketing is far more natural, genuine and accessible. Independents are more likely to work with influencers, respond directly to messages and comments, and are generally seen as more authentic.

The power of influencers in reaching the virtual market

Online influencers have become integral to digital marketing, helping brands advertise their products and services and reach their target market. Apparel brands have seen great success working with influencers to leverage their power and impact. One of the primary reasons why influencer marketing is so powerful is that it increases the level of authenticity for a brand, making promotion and marketing seem more organic and natural and building trust in the process.

There are numerous opportunities available in the influencer sphere, from expanding global markets to increased access via online tools and harnessing the power of influencer culture. Digital isn’t just an important sales channel, it also helps companies adapt to cheaper and faster operations. For example, digitisation can help facilitate quicker logistics and sales fulfilment through the likes of click and collect or drive-through options. It can improve customer acquisition and aid inventory management for a more resilient supply chain.

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The power of influencers in reaching the virtual market

With social channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter a part of our daily lives, it’s no surprise that independent brands have turned to social for building engagement and reaching a wider audience. It’s a way of communicating frequently with audiences, building customer loyalty and showcasing the authentic side of your brand. When businesses approach social media with genuine empathy and care, consumers take note. Industry insiders realise that consumers turn to their peers as much, if not more, than they turn to fashion leaders, and social media can play a huge part in that.

When you build a following on social media, it allows you the opportunity to launch new products to a ready-made group of interested customers. Take professional parkour and specialist stunt performance team STORROR as an example. With a following of 975k Instagram followers and 7.3 million YouTube followers (at the time of writing), the team had a loyal fanbase ready and waiting when they decided to launch their apparel range which has been met with huge success. Such measured achievement was partly because they had built a genuine following of interested customers through existing social channels.

As people spend an increasing amount of time online, especially on social channels, it’s only natural that brands will use these platforms more to market their products. In particular, with the pandemic and imposed lockdowns of recent years, social media use has risen exponentially, serving as an opportunity for fashion brands to advertise their products more easily through tools like in-app purchasing.

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I spent 11 years in fashion manufacturing – first as a cutting room manager, and eventually as a production director.