30 Jul 2018, 13:04 — 6 min read
The recent Retail Technology Conclave (ReTechCon) in Mumbai brought forward-thinking brands together with the best tech solution providers. The audience offered a great pulse point of trends and challenges for both regional and global markets: an opportunity to share pains and best practices – from inventory optimization to supply chain to customer engagement. For fashion brands at ReTechCon, we found 3 common threads limiting the ability to pull ahead of their competition, and maximize revenue:
1. “Fast Fashion” is too fast
For high volume brands, trends move faster than their ability to keep up. They are left with unsold inventory, or forced into price reductions due to rapidly shifting consumer demands. Most brands don’t have a clear view into what they have, or where it is. Warehouse and logistics are disconnected from merchandising and planning, sales and marketing out-of-sync with procurement and inventory. Brands are left behind; instead of ahead of planning efforts, and unable to anticipate where to place their inventory in order to maximize sales. This lack of real-time, shared inventory data leads to inefficient and inaccurate inventory handling and processing – and profit loss.
The inefficiencies are elevated in an omnichannel world, when logistics and communications become critical to customer retention. With multiple order distribution channels, all of that inventory must quickly and effectively land in the nearest proximity to the most relevant audience. And, the movement of inventory must be paired with accurate, real time communications – both internally across operations and externally to customers. Many of the biggest pains voiced by brands at ReTechCon 2018 come down to incompatibility of data, which surfaces as a huge cost to the business impacting operations and audience growth objectives.
2. Online and offline experiences are still disconnected
Many brands are still struggling to merge all customer experiences across all touch points. The consumer sees the brand as one, but the brand treats each channel independently. Ecommerce engines for digital experiences, POS systems for brick and mortar, separate warehouses and separate inventory. Now with voice ordering and social exposure, the channels and customer touch points just continue to evolve. Many brands are still behind, still operating ineffectively with customer and order data siloed by business process.
With the competition becoming greater every day, the fight is on to gain the consumer’s attention. Brand loyalty is quickly lost to failed logistics and disconnected or untimely communications. Omnichannel customer service has emerged as a priority, giving brands an opportunity to distinguish themselves with suggestive selling and trust-inspiring, multi-channel purchase assistance. Customized experiences that are targeted to consumer preferences means that a brand can match the customer need before they can even identify their preference. None of this is possible with independent, inconsistent data – when marketing has different customer data than ecommerce, and inventory and third-party logistics is not optimized to customer proximity.
3. Incomplete technology integrations are increasingly costly
With technology constantly evolving, and budgets inconsistently applied to varying growth objectives, it is very easy to land in place where your technology stack is full of “Band-Aids”. To make matters worse, many technology integrations never even get completed – literally leaving money on the floor. This is a very common situation for retail brands, which unfortunately leaves no value found in the expense, and future improvement efforts degraded or stalled.
Speaking on the topic of “No Regrets” at ReTechCon 2018, HotWax Commerce CEO Anil Patel pointed out, “The fragmented tech solutions of the past are not to be regretted. They represent the best decisions that could have been made at the time, given the circumstance. Instead, find opportunity to reformat. This is the perfect time to acknowledge the situation, address business requirements in a different way, and advance with greater insight into future investments.”
The common pains shared at ReTechCon 2018 are actually good news for the retail industry. With the recognition of shared challenges comes an opportunity for more complete solutions – that are better matched to fast-paced markets. Fashion and retail brands can now recognize the need for a true omnichannel MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution with customer and order data shared across the enterprise.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.
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