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A Must Avoid Obsession In Fashion Retail

All key transformations in human evolution happened always through intelligence. Intelligence comes with observation at the fundamental level. That is “first principles“. A living example of first principles is Elon Musk. You can check out his view on the first principles here. One of the first principles in business is to focus on customers. But many businesses obsess over the competition. This is a must-avoid obsession in fashion retail. We covered in an earlier article the difference between great and good fashion brands. Read the full article here, on the way to being extraordinary.

To understand anything well, it is good to know the “NOT” of that. What is “NOT Customer Obsession In Fashion Retail”?

What is NOT Customer Obsession In Fashion Retail?

It is natural that in any business, the people in business and sales bring many a time the context of the market. Knowing the market is not a problem. When we pay attention to the market, we see what they are doing. We often do not see “why” they are doing “what” they are doing. Knowing the “why” is not easy and hence “what” will be misleading.

It is also a digression from your business goal, your objectives. The following quote by Jeff Bezos says it all,

If you are competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering

Jeff Bezos

It is clear that what is NOT customer obsession can be competitor obsession or an obsession over expertise. The competitor obsession makes you lagging and also not pioneering.

There is a view that customer obsession is listening to customers and doing what they want. Customers will tell you what they need, but it is important for us to think for the customers. If we just translate what they are asking we are not solving tomorrow’s concerns. In other words, going behind “why” they are asking what they are asking is fundamental to being customer-centric.

How Can You Be Customer Obsessed In A Constantly Changing Fashion World?

This is an important question.

Customer obsession is a cultural element. It is the way of working.

In a dynamic fashion world, where trends change frequently, how can one be customer-obsessed?

It is simple.

In order to hit a moving target, you need to move with the target.

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What Comes In Way Of Understanding Consumer Need?

It will be surprising to note that “data” comes in way of understanding consumer needs in fashion. While data is good, data with noise is a barrier to understanding dynamic changes in consumer needs.

We wrote an entire article on Fashion Noise. Check our article “Are you guided by fashion intelligence Noise or Signal?” here. Here is another article on having a two-way conversation with your consumer with predictive analytics.

We need to dig this deeper.

You may say that you are already using data to make decisions. You may already have a tool or tools that provide fashion retail data. The data that you have is not leading you towards the consumer. It is leading you towards the competition or market. We are not talking about tools that are judgemental.

What do we mean by that?

Any data collected from the internet has captured “what is out there”. That is availability information. The availability information is a supply view of the market. We know more than half of the fashion made in the world do not meet consumer demand and hence they are not consumer-obsessed products. Any insight coming out of that is full of noise.

In order for you to get consumer obsessed, you need to evaluate if your sources of information and intelligence are consumer demand-driven.

How To Get Consumer Obsession In Fashion Retail Through Holistic Intelligence?

Deriving demand from the noisy data on the internet is a non-trivial task. This used to be an unsolved problem till 2015.

What bothered us when we started Stylumia was this singular objective of decoding consumer demand. We wanted to solve that unsolved problem.

The question we asked was “How can we enable brands and retailers with demand-driven intelligence for them to have consumer obsession in fashion retail?”

We positioned ourselves to solve the problem in a unique way for our customers (brands and retailers) with the consumer at the center. This resulted in the market map below for our consumer intelligence solution. The infographic has four quadrants with X-axis (subjective or data-driven) and Y-axis (supply or demand-driven)

Understanding consumer demand dynamically simplifies the process of forecasting, it needed a different level of sophistication. This green quadrant is high on accuracy and speed of decision-making.

This made us invent a demand-sending engine. We call it the Demand Science. You can read our extensive article on Demand Science here.

Resist The Temptation To Match Competition

We entered this interesting fashion forecasting space when there are existing incumbents in the market. We focussed on consumers and brand’s needs not on competition. It is important to resist the temptation to match what is out there in the market. In effect, we created a simpler system than a complex system with all the sophistication behind the screen. This is a living thing and we will continue to listen to our customers and spot consumer movements dynamically across the world.

We will never create a “blue ocean” if we continue to swim in the “red ocean”.

We wanted to solve the supply-demand gap in fashion and lifestyle retail globally which is causing an economic wastage of USD 750 B a year and a sustainability drain due to unwanted production.

This challenge needed us to look at the problem holistically solving the key questions in fashion,

  • What to spot? What to Design? What to buy?
  • How much to buy?
  • Where and when to distribute?

Our evolution takes a holistic look at these problem statements. This led to a suite of solutions, each one of them is modular and can be adopted independently. The quantitative demand planning and distribution are powered again through a proprietary consumer-obsessed true-demand engine. The forecast accuracy lifts are significant over existing advanced analytics systems (based on our client implementations).

The resultant solution set we have now is as per the infographic below.

Stylumia's Suite Of Solutions | Consumer Obsession In Fashion Retail
Stylumia’s Suite Of Solutions | Consumer Obsession In Fashion Retail

You can read more about hyper-accurate fashion forecasting here.

In Conclusion,

The two key ideas to transform your fashion retail are,

  1. Put Customer First
  2. Invent

Data is not always great especially when it is full of noise. Choose your tools wisely while using them to take very important decisions in your business.

We believe that each one of us in the ecosystem focuses on the consumer and guides brands and retailers in the right way. Ultimately we are all looking for an efficient and effective fashion retail supply chain with the least impact on the environment.

If you would like to accomplish both (1) and (2), and explore a free demo of Stylumia, schedule it right now in a few clicks here.

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