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Forever 21 unveils e-commerce first focus following bankruptcy

After filing for bankruptcy protection in November 2019, and vowing to close stores across the US, Canada, Asia and Europe, fashion retailer Forever 21 has unveiled a renewed focus on cross-border e-commerce in the form of localised online stores.

The business is working to shift away from physical retail and toward a more tailored online offer, supporting over 95 currencies, over 150 local and alternative payment methods, in 21 languages, and offering a wide variety of shipping methods. 

“To engage digitally savvy customers today, retailers need to invest in creating a unique online experience that speaks directly to the shopper,” Forever 21 president Alex Ok said. 

“With the continued increase in demand from international shoppers for our brand, we recognised that an advanced global online shopping experience is a fundamental part of our future growth.”

Kevin Diamond, Forever 21’s head of global e-commerce, said offering a sophisticated online experience tailored to its customers locations and expectations is a key priority for the brand moving forward.

The shift is powered by e-commerce specialist Global-e’s backend technology.

Matthew Merrilees, Global-e North America chief executive, said that 60 per cent of Australian online shoppers are purchasing from international online stores.

Forever 21 entered the Australian market in 2014 but had closed its three local sites by 2017. 

“Brands like Forever 21 understand that in order to boost global sales, it is crucial to create an online presence that is fully localised to each individual market,” Merrilees said.

At the time of the brand’s bankruptcy, GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders said Forever 21’s struggle was a consequence of changing trends and tastes within the apparel market, as well as missteps by management. 

Consumer trends shifting away from fast fashion and toward more sustainably made goods has impacted the brand’s position in the market, according to Saunders. 

“Although this is not the main reason for the decline – as is witnessed by the success of other chains in the segment such as Primark – it has been broadly unhelpful to growth and has added further pressure to a business desperate to drive its sales line,” Saunders said. 

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