Swedish fashion retail brand H&M is set to open its first shop in Australia by 2014 or 2015, an event which, experts say, will trigger another “battle of the brands”. Probable locations for its first store include 345 George Street, an office tower in Sydney’s Central Business District. Just as with Zara and Topshop, H&M may face off with Forever 21 for fashion brand supremacy.

Despite the surge in retail stores, however, many consumers still prefer online shopping. Items for sale online, market analysts say, are significantly more affordable than those in brick-and-mortar stores. A report from market consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan states:

“According to the analysts, 39 per cent say they are attracted by cheap prices, 29 per cent by convenience, 17 per cent by the range of goods available and 12 per cent by the ease of locating the goods they are looking for.”

Australian fashion e-tailer, SHOWPO is an example of affordable quality in Australia’s fashion market. First opened in 2010, SHOWPO started off as a brick-and-mortar store (one in Balmain and another in Sydney’s central business district). Three years later, realising the growing popularity of the online sector, SHOWPO closed all of its physical shops and refocused its resources on managing an online store.

The shift to an online boutique paid off. Since the shop’s debut on the Worldwide Web, SHOWPO has quickly gained fame in the fashion market, racking up almost 350,000 likes on its Facebook page in less than a year and the equivalent in Instagram followers. It has most likely helped that, on top of a great fashion selection, Showpo’s products—clothing or accessories—cost no more than $70. What a bargain!

The introduction of foreign brands to the local fashion market is unlikely to leave local brands out in the cold. More likely, competitors—both local and foreign—will work harder and smarter to offer their products and services at the most affordable prices.

Buyers will always be on the lookout for good-quality fashion pieces. With the support of the right PR agency, online stores can enjoy the advantage of a wider audience reach; customers just need to be made aware of the choices available to them. SHOWPO’s popularity in social media, with the help of a Sydney fashion PR agency like Polkadot PR, is proof of this.

All it takes to succeed in an Internet-dominant market is the capacity to effectively spread the word and SHOWPO is a success story—thanks to its business model and help from a good lifestyle PR agency.

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