We were recently featured by the Apparel Magazine where we answered several questions and shared our view point on some of the most pressing challenges as well as the opportunities that Fashion-Lifestyle Brands and Retailers are faced with today. This is the first of a three part series.
Q: The number of touch points between consumer and retailer has multiplied exponentially, opening opportunities for retailers to sell in more places, but also creating challenges when it comes to managing inventory to meet the increasing number of nodes of fulfillment. This scenario grows greater in complexity for a brand that is serving consumers via its own retail channels, as well as others’. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to gaining real time and unified insight into inventory management and how can it be overcome?
A: There is a sizable opportunity for apparel companies of today to capitalize on the increase of touch points and the avenues through which they can sell to consumers. We are seeing not just an increase of touch points but an integration of channels vertically. Given this shift in the landscape, processes must now be omnichannel ready. They should flow seamlessly across the various platforms that customers might use, including desktop, mobile, and in-person. What is prevalent today, however, is a piecemeal approach to delivering services across these channels.
In today's world, most companies report challenges with the integration of back-office technology across retail, wholesale and online channels. This stems from the fact that many companies still operate their channels as siloed businesses. Each of these channels tend to maintain their own systems, leading to multiple data sets and invariably, multiple agendas. As a result, such fashion retailers are still locked in a struggle to gain a consolidated, accurate and real-time view of their inventory and consumer demand leading to disconnected shopper experience.
However, overcoming these challenges calls for a radical re-think of existing systems and processes. Most solutions today were not built with the omnichannel consumer in mind. What is required is a shift to a vertically integrated platform which has the capability of unifying inventory across channels and providing real-time visibility into store, e-commerce and wholesale inventory. Inbuilt system functionality should be capable of providing a segregated view of channels and the demand for stock where you can define business rules on how this stock can be managed across channels.
Overall, this will enable companies to make decisions ranging from channel planning to final execution to the customer.
To read the full interview, view the Apparel Magazine's Vendor View Point. It also features how our client, Rockport is harmonizing channels by utilizing SAP Fashion Management.