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Supply Chain Management is Key to Seasonless Fashion

November 7, 2017
Posted by Whitney Armstrong

 

Fashion retail is one of the fastest moving sectors with some of the most demanding consumers. They expect high quality, reasonably priced, well delivered, varied products throughout the year. Traditionally fashion retailers have confined themselves to season driven offerings e.g Spring/Summer from January – June, Autumn/Winter from July to December, and although this has become a widely accepted model, it may no longer be the best way to maximise sales.

 

One brand leading the way in the development of seasonless fashion offerings is Zara. Zara now provides consumers with new products every two weeks, inspiring their loyal customers to visit the store on average 17 times a year, a stark contrast to more traditionally operating brands which generate an average of 4.1 visits a year per customer. This new approach is driven by the change in consumer shopping habits; when today’s customer sees a trend they want to buy it right away, not 18 months later. Seasonless fashion also means that no styles, colours or materials are off limits, opening the door for buyers to be able to accurately react to the market now, rather than just focusing on what it could be in 18 months time. But what does this mean for the demands on the supply chain?

 

65% of Zara’s production is based on proximity, and all of its products can be delivered from the factory by air within one day to any of its 4,400 stores. By keeping suppliers at no more than an arm’s length, retailers can call upon them quickly and easily, facilitating them to react to any impulsive trends or surprising purchasing behaviour that may arise outside of their pre-agreed shipment and stock requirements. Proximity also means that the suppliers themselves are more aware of the emerging developments in the market, and will already be looking to tailor their products to the changes in progress, further increasing the speed to market opportunities.

 

Proximity alone however is not enough. No matter how close the supplier may be, brands need to ensure that their suppliers can provide them with products quickly, to a high standard and in a reputable and ethical manner. To tackle this retailers should be automating their critical path where possible and simplifying the reporting and analysis processes. By managing the entire supply chain process from initial product concept through to cash, retailers can work collaboratively with their suppliers, not only helping save time and money, but also bringing products to market quickly whilst ensuring there will be no irresponsible sourcing or sustainability issues.

 

Whilst the task of providing so many new products, so quickly and on such a regular basis may seem daunting to some brands, the agility and accuracy that successful supply chain management provides mitigates a lot of the risks, and instead allows retailers (such as Zara) to reap more rewards.

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Whitney is a key member of the commercial team within Adjuno, based in the UK, she is responsible for assisting with the sales and marketing of its supply chain solutions. Whitney has a range of experience from working within compliance at a global healthcare company, to customer service for various companies in the retail industry.