May 27, 2017


We wonder why we see 40% off everywhere? Why do we have to liquidate everything?

I was on a call recently - the team was planning their merchandise assortment for Spring 2018.

Spring 2018.

Meanwhile, the "fast fashion" folks see a trend, create merchandise related to the trend, and the merchandise is available within a few weeks. You read results, you move forward with the stuff that works, you stop the stuff that doesn't work. Everything is "test and see".

Or, you plan an entire assortment for Spring 2018. What happens when you order 25,000 widgets and the customer only wants 6,000 widgets? What happens when you order 6,000 widgets and the customer wants 25,000 widgets?

There's another trend that is even more disturbing ... it comes up in my data all the time. Since many of my clients do not have a supply chain that can compete with e-commerce and fast-fashion brands, my clients will cut back on new merchandise, focusing on the stuff that they can forecast accurately. In other words, the inventory management team and merchandising team respond to a bad supply chain by starving the company of new merchandise. As a result, the assortment becomes terribly stale and only appeals to the long-time buyer. Marketing misinterprets this trend as "only our loyal customers are buying, we better have a good loyalty program in place to keep 'em" and next thing you know you have a catalog brand appealing to a 64 year old shopper.

You measure this stuff, right? You can easily detect it in your own data. The queries are easy to construct.

There's hope, folks. There's time to change, to improve. Not a lot of time, but enough to beat down all of the competitors who are moving in the wrong direction.

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