Applying data insights to fashion retailing

  • Opinion
  • July 21, 2015
  • Tim Perkins
Applying data insights to fashion retailing

Managing relevant, timely and efficient product ranges is one of the greatest chal­lenges apparel businesses face. One of the biggest influences on this is trends.

Fashion trends invariably impact each deci­sion made during a product’s life cycle, decisions which carry financial implications. As trends continuously evolve, their longevity can be hard to predict; striking the right relationship between internal and external research, coupled with pro­fessional instinct on how much to invest in these trends is vital.

As retail sales continue to grow globally, all mer­chants are trying to cash in on their slice. But, as always they face certain challenges to achieving maximum profitability, including the fear of being late to market and where to place their “big bets”. Fortunately, technology is now providing the industry with a new layer of intelligence to aid with this predicament. Along with the global growth of ecommerce trading, the burgeoning science of data analytics provides valuable insight into ways fashion retailers can de-risk, validate and adapt their strategies faster, with more confidence than ever before.

Data analytics is the field of turning raw data into insight for making better decisions; cleaning, refining and modelling data. For fashion retail, there is no better or reliable source of external data than the ecommerce platforms of other retailers. Programs such as WGSN INstock ethically scrape the ecommerce platforms of re­tailers globally. INstock not only mines the data, it cleanses and refines the data and presents it in meaningful digests which can be used to positive­ly influence key business decisions.

The jumpsuit was perhaps an unlikely success story when it first hit mass retail several years ago, yet every time it begins to dip away, it comes back stronger, finding real favour with the juniors market for festival and high summer. Although we’ve seen a wide range of styles coming through over recent seasons, which include smarter tailored versions for older customers, it’s the junior-fo­cused retailers who hold the largest proportion of jumpsuits. Shorter playsuits are the style which is really driving the category, particularly the softer culotte shapes which are new for 2015.

WGSN INstock ethically mines the e-com­merce platforms of approximately 124 retailers across six countries : UK, US, Australia, Germa­ny, Spain and India. In excess of 44 million SKUs, these SKUs are updated every day and arranged into division (Women’s, Men’s, Girls and Boys), department (Apparel, Accessories and Footwear), category and subcategory, with over 380 sub-categories listed giving the ability to easily hone in on specific in­formation.

Designed by buyers and merchandisers, WGSN INstock combines the visual appeal of an online shopping platform whilst providing an extra layer of insight through key visual references. Tracking mark downs and out of stocks SKU’s makes IN­stock the perfect competitive shopping tool. What is seen visually is reinforced with empirical data through INstock’s clever aggregation system; pro­viding quantitative intelligence for product mix, colour mix and price architecture at a styling level.

Excitingly, front-end interfaces like INstock are only the tip of the iceberg. The ability to present the data generically will only quench the appetite of businesses looking for even more market intelligence. It is the raw data behind INstock that will become of most interest to those progressive retailers looking for an extra edge in today’s hyper competitive landscape. For these organizations, the ability to manipu­late this raw data alongside internal sales and customer relationship data will be rewarded with the most powerful analysis and competi­tive insight available.

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