E-commerce strategy for vintage thrift fashion brands in Malaysia

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Buying vintage clothes is no recent phenomenon. But in the past decade, retro fashion has soared in popularity, with international celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Twice Nayeon embracing these looks in the form of beaded necklaces and perilla leaf hairstyles reminiscent of the 90s style. Consequently, this Y2K renaissance (an abbreviation for the Year 2000) drew young consumers to secondhand fashion stores where vintage apparel can easily be found. This growing acceptance of thrifted outfits is reflected in the 2022 Vestiaire Collective Impact Report, which noted that the used clothing sector is projected to grow 11 times faster than the collective fashion industry by 2025. Back home in Malaysia, the popularity of selling and shopping for pre-loved clothes is also observed, as reported by The New York Times.

Much of the resale activity occurs online, detailed in the thredUP 2022 Resale Report, with e-commerce sites expected to contribute half of the total thrift outfit sales by 2024. Against this backdrop, the retro thrift fashion industry presents a unique opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs in Malaysia to tap on. If you are looking to take advantage of this market potential, DHL Express’s guide will walk you through the steps to building your e-commerce brand, strategies for increasing sales and tips on shipping and logistics.

1. Pick your retro thrift fashion brand’s niche

As with starting any online business in Malaysia, narrowing down the area of focus of your retro thrift clothes brand is essential. With a clear goal, you can make more strategic business decisions and target the right audience. Your company’s branding will also be clearer, enabling your brand to resonate better with potential customers. These work hand in hand to increase sales for your business. There are several ways to select a niche:

  • By style: E.g. modest fashion, formal, casual, Y2K, cottage style.
  • By clothing type: E.g. dresses for ladies, formal wear for men, gender-neutral tees
  • By era: E.g. 20s, 50s, 60s, 80s or 90s
  • By price range

Tip: Vintage apparel is itself a specific segment of the fashion industry, and shoppers of thrift fashion often have specific interests. Thus, it is vital to consider the preferences of your target audience when determining your brand’s niche. For instance, The Luxury Resale Report 2022 identified millennials and Gen Zs as the largest group of thrifters, and data shared by Kakao Style’s shopping app Zigzag showed a considerable volume of searches for Y2K outfits by these consumers. Thus, this can be an area for your business to focus on if you target this group.

2. Create hype over curated retro outfits

Based on thredUP’s Resale Report 2022, one of the top reasons consumers buy used vintage clothing is because it is unique. This insight can be taken advantage of in your marketing. One way to do so is to create hype over the uniqueness of your secondhand retro clothes. You can start by picking out some of the most special pieces your brand carries and give consumers sneak previews before you officially launch them on your e-commerce vintage thrift store. Through this, you provide sufficient time for word-of-mouth to spread. It also builds up a sense of urgency and excitement in shoppers, encouraging them to act quickly.

To take things up a notch, you can even match up different vintage pieces to create coordinated outfits unique to your store. When customers are better able to visualise how to style their look, this encourages them to make a purchase. More importantly, having a unique style strengthens your branding, setting you apart from the competition.

3. Embrace social media and user-generated content

According to a survey by Rakuten Insight, 59% of consumers in Malaysia had purchased an item because it is endorsed by a key opinion leader (KOL). Thus, you may want to consider collaborating with suitable KOLs to increase visibility for your vintage fashion brand quickly and grow your following. With so many online platforms to choose from, it's important that you understand each platform’s main audience, the optimal content format, and the platform algorithm before jumping into your marketing efforts.

For example, TikTok would be the go-to space for Gen Z consumers. However, the format this platform requires is videos, and its algorithm pushes up videos into a user’s feed based on the following considerations:

  • Video engagement: E.g., likes, video watch time.
  • Video information: E.g. use of trending music, hashtags.

If your e-commerce store targets this group of consumers, you may want to focus on creating engaging content, tapping on trends, or use influencer campaigns.

Ensure a seamless international shipping experience

With an understanding of how to go design your e-commerce fashion marketing and branding strategy, you may be eager to dive into starting your retro secondhand clothes business in Malaysia. However, even with good products and branding, you can still lose customers along the way if your shipping takes a long time. This is where partnering with a trusted logistics service provider can bring synergy to your operations. By leveraging your logistics partner’s experience in international shipping, you can be confident that all deliveries are made quickly and accurately, giving your customers an unbeatable experience that inspires confidence in your brand.

Learn about the various logistics services that can be helpful for your online thrift store and other ways you can build customer loyalty for your brand today.