Is It Time to Change Our Buying Habits?

Is It Time to Change Our Buying Habits?
Retailers need to give their customers access to shop not when they decide, but allow them to buy their new bikini, sarong or sandals when they feel inspired to. Martin Newman

Online is one of the biggest drivers of change in retail. It is re-shaping consumer demand and spending patterns across all channels including bricks and mortar. Retail consultant Martin Newman argues it’s time to rethink traditional buying habits.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD

Retail has experienced many pivotal changes in the last 20 years from the introduction of web stores available 24/7 to consumers all around the world, extension of store opening hours, and multichannel retail.

Yet in many cases the industry has done little to change the way it plans and buys its product ranges. The buying cycle starts around 18 months before the season and there is little that can be done once orders are placed, quantities committed to and stock-phasing agreed.

At the same time internationalisation is often on strategic road maps but retailers are yet to move what that means in terms of climate and size variances higher up on the agenda.

In addition, new big shopping events such as Black Friday are shifting shopping habits. Last year Black Friday was the biggest shopping day recorded in the UK and a lack of consideration among traditional merchandising means ‘out of stock’ situations will peak during these new shopping days.

DATA INSIGHT

Buying & Merchandising is a tough job at the best of times and adding new shopping channels, customer behavior and variety of climates is only making it more complex.

As with most things the devil is in the detail and the detail in our new complex multichannel equation is in gaining insight from our data.

Part of the solution to the challenge of making more informed buying and merchandising decisions can be found in traffic and demand data which most retailers’ ecommerce teams have access to. Tying the ‘traditional’ merchandising past performance sales analysis with online lost demand (out of stock situation) as well as on- and off- site search can build a comprehensive picture of what products were searched and bought (or not bought) and when.

Good analysis of the shopping intent data can lead to a conclusion that our customers are looking for bikini sets in mid-to late August contrary to our belief that August is the best month to introduce new autumn/winter stock.

Does that mean that retailers shouldn’t plan to launch their Holiday Shop in March? Probably not. What it means is that retailers need to give their customers access to the Holiday Shop not when they decide that they want to offer it but allow them to buy their new bikini, sarong or sandals when they feel inspired to.

SEASONAL SHIFT

In simple terms, maybe it’s time to change our buying and merchandising habits and move away from the traditional autumn/winter and spring/summer season buying cycle.

Maybe it’s time we look to spread out our stock, take sales and demand data from all our channels into account and ensure we are stocked for new events which drive customers to our stores.

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