Introduction

Topshop: A women's clothing company within the Arcadia Group alongside Miss Selfridge, Topman, Burton and many other fashion retailers. The brand was once at the pinnacle of fashion with their designs seen on the likes of Kate Middleton, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lawrence and Perrie Edwards. Cara Delvigne ran a campaign with Topshop in 2014 and Beyonce signed a partnership with them in 2016. With over 150 stores across 24 countries, Topshop did something right to become omnipresent. So why is it, that they are facing major challenges and can we use digital technology to overcome them?

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Cara Delvigne For Topshops 2014 campaign. Image taken from:https://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/cara-delevingne-campaign-face-of-topshop-autumn-winter?image=5d546e6cd9f282000862032f

Bad Publicity

The chairman of Arcadia Group, Sir Phillip Green, was once proclaimed as the ‘king of the high street’, however recently tarnished his legacy. The BHS pension scandal in 2015 contributed to this. Major allegations were also made against Green for sexual harassment and bullying of his staff in 2018. Beyonce cut ties with Topshop as a response. Articles related to the matter diffused rapidly and many people resented adding to Greens wealth. Although digital media has hindered his image, it could also be used to counteract bad news and depict great stories about Topshop to save their Reputation.

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Phillip Green. Taken by Luke Macgregor/Reuters. Image taken from:https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/08/philip-green-accused-of-racial-physical-and-sexual-abuse

No profit

But it seems that bad publicity is only one hurdle facing Arcadia. Struggling to make a profit is another. By 2019, Topshop turned to a Compulsory Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in attempt to save their empire. How is this possible? From a globally trending brand, to applying for a CVA, Topshop has gone from one extreme to another. However, prosperity still looms and there are major weaknesses about Topshop that can be addressed and opportunities that still lie, most of which are technology-based.

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A Topshop Store. Image taken from:https://www.egi.co.uk/news/new-topshop-warehouse-heralds-arcadia-split/

Competition

Two simultaneous events: The rise in online fashion and Topshops decrease in revenue. Topshops revenue drop by 33% from 2012 to 2019, was recorded as the fastest Decline in the UKs high street retailer history. However, Pretty Little Thing launched in 2012 and by 2019 were noticed as one of the UKs most searched fast fashion brands with a revenue of over £516 million. The correlation between a rise in searches and rise in sales, indicates that Topshop need to take a leaf out of Umar Kamanis book and improve their search engine optimisation.

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A Chart showing the 238% increase in Pretty Little Things Search Value from 2015–2019. Image taken from:https://www.pi-datametrics.com/blog/prettylittlething-fast-fashion-growth/

Advertisements on social media

Competitors however, can be a blessing in disguise. They both hinder and help a business. Advertisements can be used by Topshop to steal their competitors customers. This is achievable on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and Youtube. When i say ‘steal competitors customers’…Topshop can specifically target customers who are interacting with their competitors sites. To put things into perspective: Karen looks at some mom jeans on ASOS, then goes to Facebook to scroll down her feed, only for an advertisement to pop up, displaying Topshop mom jeans. The power of social media is endless. The pot is everlasting.

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A Topshop Advertisement. Image taken from: https://www.adstasher.com/2019/02/topshop-focus-on-stand-out-stories-in.html

Diversification

Now that we mention stealing customers, Its time for Topshop to take theirs back. Topshop still have an impressive database regardless of their current position. Although impeded by cheaper market brands, Topshop’s consumers lay in the middle market bracket. Does this say something about fashion in the modern day? Topshop should tailor their brand to the modern day customer, interested in affordable fast fashion and the online marketing strategies used by companies like PLT and OhPolly should be replicated. For example, Instagram collaborations with everyday local girls rather than high end models could allow Topshop to reassociate with customers.

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Instagram Application being displayed on a phone screen. Image taken from: https://www.techgenyz.com/2020/09/25/instagrams-collaboration-control-for-interactive-ar-effects/

Extended Reality

There is no better way to beat competition, than to be ahead of the game. It is part of human nature to love new, unseen things. Which is why Topshop should introduce a rare system. Extended Reality is an amazing way to utilise this, especially in todays world where people can‘t visit clothing stores due to Lockdown restrictions. Virtual changing rooms solve many issues surrounding consumers who feel uneasy about both online shopping (due to not being able to try clothes on) and in person shopping (due to the coronavirus).

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Woman trying clothes on virtually. Image taken from:https://retail-loyalty.org/en/news/carrefour-is-breaking-new-ground-with-the-first-virtual-fitting-rooms-/

Creating an online Niche

Offering an online clothing rental niche could be another new exciting service, setting Topshop apart from others. Topshops target market are young women, seeking to keep up with the trends. Therefore many of them often wear one-time-peices. This can be a costly hobby for young women who have not yet settled in to a career! So, what a better idea than to introduce one-time rentals on Topshops website? Generating diversity and flexibility as well as being environmentally friendly.

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Topshop Outfits on Manicans. Image taken from: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sir-philip-green-untangles-topshop-and-topman-logistics-from-arcadia-group-ng9msk33g

Artificial Intelligence in Warehouses

With expectations from the modern day customer being greater than ever, free next day delivery could be a game changer for Topshop. Amazon, who dominate 43% of the internets sales use Artificial Intelligence to provide their top standard service. Both next day delivery and time efficient processing is achieved through AI, not to mention reduced labour costs. To enhance profitability, Topshop should use robots and processors in their warehouses like Amazon. Attracting customers, raising sales and cutting labour costs.

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Amazon Robot working in warehouse. Image taken from: https://www.wired.com/story/amazon-warehouse-robots/

Consumer Profiling

To gain an insight into who their audience is, businesses use consumer profiling. By analysing individuals online activity, a profile representing interests and online behaviours is generated for each customer. This is a strategy Topshop should aim to optimise. Trumps use of consumer profiling, led to his successful first Election. Trumps approach was illegal and unethical due to his sourcing of the data. However, his success demonstrates the underlying principles of consumer profiling being effective — which can be achieved legally. Topshop can predict what their customers like, and gift them in aim to win them over.

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Strategy taken to create a cusotmer profile. Image taken from: http://www.mosaic.geo-strategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/The-art-of-customer-profiling.pdf

Written by

2nd Year Psychology Undergraduate.

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