The fashion industry is littered with examples of controversy, not to mention countless ill-conceived political statements on the catwalk over the years. Retail management software has recently brought fashion back into the spotlight. The demand for fast fashion and the endless convenience afforded by digital technology is a topic of debate for retailers struggling against the challenges of labour shortages, rising costs, and increasingly complex supply chains.
Consumers have grown accustomed to ‘see now, buy now’ – no longer a mere trend – as production cycles have reduced to weeks rather than months. The logistics of fast fashion are complex, to say the least. Many who thought e-commerce deliveries peaked during the Pandemic, while the High Street was closed for business, will be surprised to learn that even 2020’s record-breaking volumes are expected to be broken this winter.
The desire for always-on convenience potentially has the strongest impact on fashion retail – above other retailers – because of the challenges already presented by rapidly changing fashion trends. Retailers need a sales and logistics operation consumers can rely on – customers won’t be as forgiving about shortages and delivery delays now lockdown conditions have relaxed.
Staying Ahead of the Pack
Uncertainty is rife throughout supply chains. One thing that is certain however, is the need for agility. The challenge for all stakeholders in the fashion retail industry is to be as flexible as possible.
A new generation of fashion retailer has emerged within the last decade. They don’t see technology as a disrupter, instead they embrace all the benefits it offers. Technology is an opportunity for forward-thinking, early adopters, to be agile and remain ahead of their sluggish counterparts.
The imperative is to serve both bricks and mortar and e-commerce customers. Bricks and mortar take on a new role, as delivery and collections hub. When stocks are not available in the distribution centre, in-store stocks are automatically available for shipping direct to the customer or via PUDO collection (pick-up or drop-off from a local shop or smart parcel locker), or available to the consumer in-store via ‘Click and Collect’.
Inventory data is available to consumers and sales staff in real-time, accessible from multiple business units, with dispatch by one of many carrier services. If an item is out of stock, the consumer will go elsewhere, rather than wait. The new generation retailer uses data to predict demand surges, with automated inventory management to ensure stocks remain at optimum levels.
With this level of precision, retailers are agile and able to capitalise on emerging trends before their competitors, realising the greatest return. So, how do they do it? What can ambitious retailers learn from the new generation of fashion retailers?
Prepared for the New Generation of Consumer
Retailers use a network of connected retail software features to drive their operations towards the nirvana of customer experience excellence. When retailers consistently deliver on the expectations of the ‘see now, buy now’ consumer, they unlock the secrets of the new generation of fashion retailers:
- Real-time inventory visibility in-store and online
- Google-standard website product discovery
- Managed product attributes reduce returns
- Fully integrated retail EPOS software
Integrated retail EPOS software (electronic point of sale) synchronises suppliers, customers, inventory, and products, in real-time. EPOS software for retail stores effortlessly manages in-store and online transactions, becoming a valuable source of data, when integrated with the central retail software system. Encompassing core business processes, including inventory, sales, and finance, retail software offers a single software management system to manage an entire business.
In addition to the efficient management of day to day operations and gathering a wealth of data, retail management software facilitates fast and accurate product management. Product management is another application setting retailers apart when it comes to customer experience.
Effective product discovery is supported by a retailer’s ability to manage product information, balancing the need for branding and merchandising. Consumers search using natural language to find the product they want, which Google has worked hard to accommodate. This expectation transfers to the search for a product within a retailer’s website. Defined attributes, needed for product discovery, are easily updated as new purchasing habits are identified. Product attributes are translated directly into the product matrix, allowing styles and SKU’s to be controlled with a stock hierarchy. This practice is attributed to a reduction in order returns.
From Start-Up to Multinational
Business of any size can take lessons from the new generation of fashion retailers. Retail management software is driving change within the industry, as retailers future-proof their business management software. Retail inventory management for small business will scale as an organisation grows, both physically and in terms of complexity.
Fully integrated retail management software, incorporating EPOS and retail inventory management, is the secret sauce helping fashion retailers stay ahead of the pack. These retailers are leading the way, delivering best-in-class customer experience, profitably.
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