Digital Revolution in the Fashion Value Chain

The challenging retail landscape has triggered a massive digital revolution for the fashion industry. The urgency to digitise every link of the value chain has never been more apparent as the Covid-19 crisis renders old processes obsolete. This report aims to guide retailers in understanding how digitisation can bolster business agility and speed-to-market in the new normal.

Written by Ashley LooiJune 9, 2020

Introduction

Key Insights

  • Speed to Market: Adoption of digital innovations such as 3D prototyping, virtual lookbooks and data analytics tools helps streamline processes, shortening lead times by up to 50%.
  • Trend Validation: Trend analytics tools bolster data-backed decision making, minimising the risk of relying on intuition that comes with trend forecasting.
  • Customer Engagement: Visual merchandising solution enables a unique online shopping experience with curated messaging and offers.

The retail industry has been long overdue a digital revolution. Covid-19 has brought age-old issues to light and accelerated the need for agility and speed to market.

China’s post-pandemic recovery in physical retail has been slow, as physical traffic only recovered to 30%-40% of pre-crisis levels. This paints a bleak picture for fashion retail in the near future. Brands must invest in improving their digital customer experience to make up for decreased foot traffic.

This report aims to demonstrate how digital revolution can bolster businesses’ agility and speed both in crisis and entering the new normal.

 

All data used in this report comes from products retailing online as tracked by Omnilytics, unless otherwise mentioned.

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Democratisation of Roles

The frequent disconnect between retail or brand buyer and manufacturers can typically lengthen the go-to-market cycle.

The roles of buyers and manufacturers can be democratised through the integration of digital tools, establishing a two-way exchange of information. Having a shared platform ensures an efficient flow of information, increasing speed to market.

Virtual Lookbooks

Digital tools make creating mood boards and bookmarking products that inspire design ideas easier than ever. Designer teams are able to save notable products into collections, segregating them by segment and styles.

Designers can create saved collections that function as virtual lookbooks with Omnilytics’ saved products feature, which enables sharing across internal teams and with manufacturers. The collections can also be modified as ideas and concepts change and is reflected in real-time.

Virtual lookbooks can be used to allow efficient information exchange between relevant stakeholders.

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Trend Validation

Trend Analytics vs Forecasting

Trend forecasting’s macro lens can lead to error, leaning heavily on intuition to plan many seasons ahead.

The emergence of trend analytics tools complement trend forecasting with data-driven validation, removing the element of risk. Moreover, trend analytics detects the early signals of emerging trends. This creates opportunity for planning and design products that will meet demand at the right time.

Data-Backed Decision-Making

The use of trend analytics tools reveal insights into current demand, archiving the lengthy process of conducting market research and expediting the trend validation process.

The trend performance solution by Omnilytics analyses trends across different markets and segments. Over the 12 months, among the top performing categories for floral prints in US womenswear was Intimates. The category had a high trend score, consistently outperforming other categories. Popularity of floral prints in Intimates remained stable over the past 6 months – even when the coronavirus hit, while other categories continue to fall. The strong consumer demand presents an opportunity that can be leveraged to produce potential bestsellers, minimising risk of overstock.

Data-backed analytics assist in accurately meeting consumer demand and driving speed and efficiency to gain headway over competitors.

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Digitised Supply Chain

3D Prototyping

The latest iterations of 3D CAD software produce incredibly realistic digital renders to aid faster decision making in product development. Virtual sampling allows brands to visualise the end product in early stages, while allowing manufacturers to assist brands in the design process. The agony of waiting weeks for physical samples to arrive and remaking samples are over. The reduced number of samples produced can result in up to 70% of cost savings.

This digital transformation shortens lead times by up to 50%, increasing speed to market. Levi’s has deployed virtual sampling as part of its recovery plan.

“By leveraging this digital technology to hold the meeting virtually, we were able to engage everyone simultaneously and complete the process in one meeting, taking weeks out of our go-to-market cycle.”

Chip Bergh, President and CEO of Levi Strauss

 

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Digitised Supply Chain (cont’d)

The Right Channel

The lack of visibility in subcategory performance across channels commonly leads to overstock issues due to inefficient product allocation. Data tools can be integrated in decision making at the distribution stage to effectively drive out product and maximise profit.

Retailer analysis needs to be conducted at a granular level to identify opportunities for efficient product allocation. Such granularity can be achieved with Omnilytics’ competitor benchmarking tool.

In the past three months, A-line Dresses garnered a higher sell-out rate on Nordstrom than at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Additionally, data shows there is a white spot opportunity for A-Line Dresses priced under USD 50 on Nordstrom where sell-out is high and product saturation is low. A higher proportion of A-Line Dresses should be assigned to Nordstrom to ensure product allocation is optimised.

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Meet the Author

Ashley Looi

Ashley Looi combines her major in econometrics with her interest in fashion to help brands and retailers uncover actionable insights. She currently produces in-depth reports on the fashion industry and its changing retail scene across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Southeast Asia.

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