Delivering Newness in Fashion The Right Way
Newness is an imperative strategy in fast fashion. Even in a retail downturn, a healthy newness level is effective at engaging consumers.
Demand is the leading force in the consumer-driven retail landscape we are currently in. Consumer preferences shifted drastically as the coronavirus pandemic progressed, giving way to new and unique trends. This is where newness comes in to meet the new set of needs.
The rapid growth of e-commerce coupled with a surge in online shopping this year further fuelled the demand, and many are clambering to take their share. An abundance of brands and retailers, paired with the convenience of online shopping, granted consumers a myriad of options to choose from.
Regular launches ensure you stay on top of your customers’ mind while fulfilling their needs. This is why demand-driven newness is crucial for your business’ growth today.
How the Big Players Deliver Newness
We analysed top retailers Zara, Boohoo and Missguided to understand their speed to market strategies, and how you can adopt the best ones into your own business.
Fast fashion retailers have a responsive supply chain as each competes with one another to be the first in the market.
Looking into their launch frequency and volume provides a clear idea of the newness level. Are they stocking up fast, but in low quantities, or vice versa?
As the largest retailer, Boohoo leads the pack with the largest launch volume. However, the frequency of launches fluctuated sporadically.
The digital native’s newness was at its lowest in December and were much lower in April, May and June 2020 – at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boohoo’s agility allows it to quickly pivot strategies as the market shifts. The ultra-fast brand is largely demand-driven, often the first to identify trending styles and then creating similar designs in small batches. If successful, the design is restocked in larger quantities – a strategy known as the test-and-repeat model.
This strategy, along with a wide range of categories offered to both men and women leads to a high level of newness. To manage its inventory, Boohoo launched a promotion with every newness released to accelerate stock movement and make way for new-ins
Missguided has an inconsistent launch pattern, with occasional spikes and dips. As seen from the chart above, there was a surge in new products launched in December, followed by a massive decline in January and April.
Minimal launches were expected in April, as most brands and retailers faced disruptions due to Covid-19. However, the retailer bounced back in May and maintained its momentum through the following months.
Similar to Boohoo, Missguided’s new-in and first discount numbers are nearly equivalent each month.
Of the three, Zara had the most consistent launch strategy. As the retailer tends to abide by the fashion calendar, Zara saw an increase in launches in September as fall arrived.
The volume of launches reduced slightly in April and May, but not by much. This signals the brand’s resilience as it was still able to maintain high newness amid the Covid-19 crisis.
From a customer’s point of view, a regular level of newness keeps the shopping experience exciting – upon each visit, there’s always something new to look at.
Unlike Boohoo and Missguided, Zara does not employ consistent promotions that coincide with its new launches. The brand abides by its own promotional calendar – holding large sales in December and June. This suggests a year-end and mid-year clearance of old assortments, to make way for new stocks.
Promoting Newness with Visual Merchandising
All three fast fashion retailers not only refresh their assortments on a daily basis but constantly promote new launches on their websites too. This practice engages customers – just like walking into a store with new items.
Missguided does this particularly well, with consistent edits to promote new products, from work-from-home essentials to gym outfits.
While it’s important to have a constant flow of new products, the process has to be done right to avoid overstock. So how do you strike a balance in the logistics equation; one that makes you and your customers happy?
Finding Balance Between the Old and the New
Brands and retailers may be hesitant to bring in more stocks as there are still existing ones piling up in the warehouse. This issue escalates into fear when it leads to deadstock. In order to catch up to the market today, however, it’s important to address the situation, not the fear.
To manage this situation, bring in the new while clearing out the old.
The first step is to revisit the production process. Compare your in-stock levels between new assortments and ageing products to identify your next steps.
From the chart above, it’s clear that all three retailers have clear strategies in tackling newness. Most products were launched in the last 60 days.
However, aged stock at over 120 days, although not yet alarming, could pose problems in the future if not dealt with quickly.
High levels of aged stock are a cause for concern and discounts are commonly executed for clearance. Assortments should be monitored regularly to ensure slow-moving stocks are quickly identified.
While clearance is generally used in tandem with discounting, it’s not always the most effective or the only option for a brand. When identified early, brands have more options to clear these products, either through bundle deals, restyling, or through marketing campaigns.
Look into your buying process to identify the root of overstocking and plan better in the future. Slow-sellers are the result of an inaccurate understanding of demand. The buying team must conduct extensive research to grasp consumer preferences and deliver with the right assortment.
Another reason for overstocking could simply lie in the quantities ordered, a simple case of purchasing more than needed. Finding the right balance in supply and demand for your business is crucial in helping you maintain healthy stock levels.
Newness is Key
Prioritising newness along with a curated assortment maintains market share, as a robust renewal rate increases traffic, conversions and sales. The big players are proof that in order to remain relevant in today’s ever-changing fast fashion industry, it’s important to be up to speed.
Other factors, such as setting the right price and investing in true trends impact your speed to sellout too.
Strike the right balance between the old and the new by eliminating deadstock early and finding the right balance in supply and demand. Ultimately, the right way to tackle newness is to devise a strategy that benefits both you and your customers.
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