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“The whole world is seeing changes”: The Iconic’s Erica Berchtold talks COVID-19

This time last week, The Iconic was still planning to showcase local and international brands from its Considered Edit on the runway at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

It was supposed to be the second instalment of the online retailer’s We Are Human campaign, which launched in Brisbane last November, alongside a comprehensive new sustainability strategy.

But that all changed when the Morrison Government imposed a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people as part of an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

VAMFF was just one of many major events across the country that was forced to cancel, and The Iconic became one of many retailers facing fires on several fronts: plummeting consumer confidence, the shift to remote working, supply chain issues and more.

The Iconic is reportedly still deciding whether to show its runway outside of VAMFF, but in the meantime, Internet Retailing checked in with CEO Erica Berchtold to discuss how the company is responding to the global pandemic.

How is The Iconic responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and what impact is it having on the business?

Erica Berchtold: Our priority first and foremost, is the safety and well-being of our people and our customers and we are focused on taking all necessary actions and precautions to protect our people and our business.

Internally, any of our team that can, are working from home. For parts of our business that are unable to, we have either reinforced our existing operating procedures or expanded them, including things like in amplifying our stringent hygiene policies and providing staff readily available access to hand sanitisers.

For now, it is too early to say what the full impact will be but this is an industry-wide challenge which is evolving daily, and we are closely monitoring the situation to ensure we are ready to take any necessary action as the situation continues to unfold.

Being a pureplay online retailer, we are used to having to think outside of the square and respond to change. Our focus is on fast and decisive action which we’ve done and will continue to do. We’re treating this situation with the upmost seriousness, but we’re also finding ways of getting on with things.

Are you noticing changes in how customers are shopping?

EB: I think the whole world is seeing changes in how customers are shopping. I read a quote that Woolworths are selling seven weeks of toilet paper per day or something like that! Clearly, there have been changing priorities!

In our world, we are certainly seeing a shift in the mix of what people are buying, whether that be loungewear, sweats and hoodies to leisurewear as more of our customers adjust to working from home. We’ll continue to closely monitor our customer behaviour and evolve as necessary to best serve their needs.

Are you noticing delivery delays?

EB: Not really – being specialists in online, we have a wide and varied assortment of delivery options and so far the disruption for The Iconic has been limited.

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