Any other business: 05 June 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB looks at the role of AI in the fashion e-commerce sector, what American consumers are spending their money on right now, and how sustainable farmers are pivoting online to meet new consumer demand.

US consumers look for escapism

Much of the world is still in lockdown, but that hasn’t stopped stop people daydreaming of golden beaches and crystal-clear waters. In the USA, swimwear sales are on the rise, as people deal with the trauma of quarantine by preparing for their future freedom. 

Fashion e-commerce brand Onia1 saw sales of bikini bottoms, tops and one-pieces rise by 200% in April, despite its position at the higher end of the price market. Vacation-dreamers also boosted Knix’s2 swimwear sales by 80% compared to its 2019 collection. Listen to how other fashion e-commerce brands became success stories with our exclusive podcast series.

Farmers get a hand to reach customers’ plates

We may not typically associate farm life with the world of e-commerce innovation, but online sales platform Steward3 is offering farmers affected by COVID-19 a valuable lifeline.

With restaurants closed, many farmers are pivoting to sell pre-packaged boxes of fresh produce directly to consumers. There is a high demand for such products, but, as Steward’s founder Dan Miller says, farmers often lack the logistical and operational infrastructure to fulfill orders. “Most sustainable farmers' systems are handwritten paper. They haven’t needed to have a robust method in place before this.”

Fortunately, Steward is stepping up its roll-out to support farmers as they navigate the new e-commerce territory. It was launched in America in 2016 primarily to help small, sustainable farms gain investment from people, but also gives them the tech tools that will help them with accounting and selling directly to consumers.

Consumers explore their creative sides

Lockdown boredom has prompted many of us to try new hobbies. International e-commerce site LoveCrafts4, which sells arts and crafts materials, has seen a significant growth in sales and traffic since the coronavirus shut shops.

In April, the number of visitors to its website was up by 58% compared to February this year, and 71% of site visitors during the month were new customers. DIY face mask tutorials and kids’ crafts pages have seen a spike in interest, with tutorial and beginner pages receiving the most traffic overall. The new customers have helped the platform’s revenue surge by 140%. COVID-19 has prompted a wave of new consumer demands in the e-commerce market. Read our exclusive series on Pandemic Culture to see what the online shopping trends are, and what your business can do to make the most of the opportunities. 

AI helps customers look their best

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the fashion e-commerce sector has taken a step forward thanks to an exciting new collaboration between luxury e-tailer Yoox Net-a-Porter5 (YNAP) and the research center of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Together, they are hoping to develop visual search and virtual try-on technology within online fashion. The aim is to create “cutting-edge technological solutions” by utilizing YNAP’s huge archive, which contains over 20 years of data and tens of millions of images.

The brand is already offering unique online shopping experiences to customers – last year, it evolved the Yoox Mirror on its app to allow users to upload a photo of themselves which they can then dress digitally to see how the clothes look. How could AI optimize your business? Download our free guide, 7 ways AI will shape your SME’s business plan

Bottoms up!

Lockdown may tempt us to reach for a large glass of wine, but not everyone is giving in to temptation. The rise of more health-conscious consumers has helped sales of low- and no-alcohol products grow by 32.5% in the UK off-trade in the week ending March 31 (the nation’s lockdown began on March 23). Following the closure of many bars, non-alcoholic aperitif brand Everleaf6, which launched early last year, refocused from on trade to direct-to-consumer (DTC). This pivot has been rewarded – DTC now accounts for 87% of the brand’s sales (up from 15%), a rise of 4,000% vs the same period last year.

The D2C model is one of the leading e-commerce trends to arise during the pandemic. Read more about consumer’s changing demands here. 

1 – Onia

2 – Knix  

3 – Steward

4 – LoveCrafts

5 – Yoox Net-a-Porter

6 – Everleaf