E-commerce Pros & Cons in Fashion Industry
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. What is E-commerce in Fashion Industry
  2. Benefits of E-commerce in Fashion Industry
  3. Drawbacks of E-commerce in Fashion Industry
  4. How to Overcome E-commerce Challenges
  5. Real Life Examples of E-commerce in Fashion

As the digital age continues to expand its reach, more and more industries are shifting their focus online. One such industry that has seen a significant digital transformation is the fashion industry. A key player in this transformation? E-commerce. But like any game changer, e-commerce comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages in the fashion industry. Let's dive in to understand what this means for you.

What is E-commerce in Fashion Industry

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, is the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. In the fashion industry, this means selling clothing, accessories, shoes, and other fashion items online. But it's not just about the selling—it's also about how these products are marketed, delivered, and serviced.

The Basics of E-commerce in Fashion

Before we delve into the pros and cons, let's break down the basics of e-commerce in the fashion industry:

  • Online Stores: These are websites where customers can browse and buy products. They can be standalone websites, like ASOS, or extensions of physical stores, like Zara's online shop.
  • Marketplaces: Websites like Amazon and eBay are marketplaces where multiple sellers list their products for sale.
  • Dropshipping: This is a type of e-commerce where the seller doesn't keep the products in stock. Instead, when a product is sold, it's purchased from a third party and shipped directly to the customer.

Role of Technology in E-commerce

Technology plays a big role in e-commerce in the fashion industry. Here's how:

  1. Digital Marketing: This includes everything from email newsletters to social media ads. Digital marketing helps online fashion stores reach potential customers.
  2. Website Design: A well-designed website can make shopping online a breeze. It needs to be easy to navigate, visually appealing, and mobile-friendly.
  3. Customer Service: Online chatbots, tracking information for shipments, and easy return policies are all examples of how technology can improve customer service in e-commerce.

Now that we've covered what e-commerce in the fashion industry is and how it works, we can look at the advantages and disadvantages it brings to the table.

Benefits of E-commerce in Fashion Industry

Online shopping is booming, with more people than ever before choosing to click instead of stroll through shopping malls. And for good reason. E-commerce in the fashion industry offers a host of benefits to both consumers and businesses.

Advantages for Consumers

For customers, the advantages of e-commerce in fashion are clear:

  • Convenience: Shopping online means you can shop anytime, anywhere. No need to worry about store hours or long lines!
  • Variety: Online stores often offer a wider range of products than physical stores. Plus, it's easy to compare products and prices across different brands.
  • Easy Returns: Many online fashion retailers offer hassle-free returns. If something doesn't fit or look quite right, you can simply send it back.

Advantages for Businesses

It's not just shoppers who benefit from e-commerce. Fashion businesses also enjoy several advantages:

  1. Cost Savings: Operating an online store can be cheaper than running a physical store. There's no need to pay for retail space, and staffing costs can be lower.
  2. Global Reach: With an online store, the world is your oyster. You can sell to customers all over the globe, not just those in your local area.
  3. Customer Insights: Online sales generate valuable data. This can be used to understand customer behavior, optimize products and marketing, and drive sales.

So, e-commerce offers a world of possibilities for the fashion industry. But it's not all smooth sailing. There are also challenges to consider.

Drawbacks of E-commerce in Fashion Industry

While the benefits of e-commerce in fashion are many, there are also some disadvantages to be aware of. Let’s take a look at the flip side of the coin.

Challenges for Consumers

Online shopping isn't always a walk in the park for consumers. Here are some potential pitfalls:

  • Fit and Feel: One of the main disadvantages of e-commerce in fashion industry for customers is the inability to try on clothes before buying. Sizes can vary greatly between brands, and there's no way to feel the fabric or check the quality in person.
  • Delivery Times: Waiting for a delivery can be frustrating. And if you need an outfit for a specific event, there's always the risk it won't arrive on time.
  • Return Hassles: While many online stores offer easy returns, the process can still be inconvenient. It often involves printing out return labels, re-packaging the item, and taking it to a post office or drop-off point.

Challenges for Businesses

Despite the opportunities, e-commerce also presents several challenges for fashion businesses:

  1. Competition: The online fashion marketplace is crowded, making it tough to stand out from the crowd and attract customers. In fact, this is one of the major disadvantages of e-commerce in fashion industry for businesses.
  2. Logistics: Managing inventory and shipping can be complex and costly, especially when selling to international customers.
  3. Customer Trust: Building trust with online customers can be difficult. Without a physical store or face-to-face interaction, it can be harder to build a rapport and ensure customers feel comfortable making a purchase.

So, while e-commerce offers plenty of advantages, it's not without its drawbacks. But don't worry, there are ways to overcome these challenges and reap the rewards of online retail in the fashion industry.

How to Overcome E-commerce Challenges

Now that we've covered some of the disadvantages of e-commerce in fashion industry, let's not get discouraged. Instead, let's roll up our sleeves and look at practical ways to overcome these challenges.

Addressing Consumer Challenges

From fit issues to delivery woes, here are a few strategies to better serve your customers:

  • Detailed Product Information: Minimize returns by providing detailed product descriptions, including fabric details, care instructions, and comprehensive size guides. Some companies even offer virtual fitting rooms or use models with different body types to help customers visualize the fit.
  • Reliable Delivery: Partner with reliable couriers and offer tracking options to ensure customers receive their orders on time. Consider offering express shipping options for last-minute shoppers.
  • Easy Returns: Make the return process as straightforward as possible. Offer pre-paid return labels and pick-up services, and ensure refunds are processed promptly.

Overcoming Business Challenges

Let's tackle the business challenges head on:

  1. Unique Selling Proposition: To stand out in a crowded market, identify what makes your brand unique and highlight it in your marketing. It could be your designs, your sustainability efforts, or your exceptional customer service.
  2. Efficient Supply Chain: Invest in inventory management software and automate processes where possible to streamline your logistics. For international sales, consider using fulfillment services to handle shipping and returns.
  3. Customer Engagement: Build trust with customers through consistent, transparent communication. Use social media to engage with your audience, provide excellent customer service, and showcase positive reviews and testimonials.

By tackling these disadvantages of e-commerce in fashion industry head-on, you can turn challenges into opportunities and make your online fashion business shine.

Real Life Examples of E-commerce in Fashion

It's always helpful to see real-life examples. Let's take a look at how some big names in fashion have used e-commerce to their advantage, while also addressing the disadvantages of e-commerce in fashion industry.


ASOS, a UK-based online fashion and beauty store, has set a high bar for e-commerce in fashion. They've overcome the challenge of fit by providing a detailed size guide for each item. They also display their clothes on models of different sizes, helping customers visualize how the item might look on them.


Zara, a well-known fast-fashion brand, has effectively used e-commerce to expand its reach. They have overcome logistical challenges by implementing a robust supply chain management system. This system allows them to keep track of inventory and ensure prompt delivery, turning potential disadvantages into advantages.


Everlane, an online clothing retailer, has distinguished itself with a unique selling proposition: radical transparency. They share the cost of materials, labor, and transportation for each product. This transparency builds trust with customers and helps Everlane stand out in a crowded e-commerce market.

These are just a few examples of how brands can successfully navigate the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce in fashion industry. By learning from their strategies, you can craft an e-commerce experience that meets the needs of your customers and the goals of your business.

If you're curious about how the digital world is revolutionizing the fashion industry and want to understand the role of e-commerce, check out the workshop 'What is Digital Fashion?' by Beata Wilczek. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights into the digital transformation of fashion and how e-commerce plays a crucial part in it.