The Daily Post:- 11th September
“‘Commercial Retail”: Overstocking & Under-Valuing the World?”
I remember a comment from a best practice range review from some years ago. Having spent a couple of days reviewing the client’s own assortment and comparing with detailed visuals of best practice and competitor ranges, the chairman sighed and leaning back in his chair exclaimed “Who buys all this stuff?”
At the time it was an innocent enough reaction, however it turned out to be not only insightful but also an eerily accurate prediction of the overstocking that was to come. The answer to the question today is that increasingly “nobody” buys all this stuff.
Too much stuff?
At the luxury end of the market, Burberry is again in the news. Thankfully it has now ceased the widespread practice of destroying excess stock. In fact, it is now actively working to recycle its unsold products and reduce the waste in its production processes. Commendably it is also funding research into the development of more sustainable materials.
We also witness at the mass market level of the industry the daily evidence of promotions and reductions to clear stock and drive volumes. Retailers such as H&M announce extraordinary numbers of lines that remain unsold season on season.
The underlying conclusion is that almost everyone is making too much stuff.
The perfect customer storm.
Consumer markets are witnessing a perfect storm. The number of active consumers is shrinking. Of those that remain they are either economically squeezed into buying less things or are making active decisions not to buy physical products but to invest in lifestyle experiences.
For Millennials and Generation Zers both happiness and the perception of “being successful” are now based on what you do and not what you have.
And whilst international expansion can access new markets the same phenomena will ultimately diminish the appetite elsewhere & everywhere. Nor should the complexities and costs of being successful in more extreme and challenging markets be underestimated.
So, against this market back-drop, where is retail revenue and profit going to come from?
Value over volume.
The consumer is always looking for value. However, the shift for many, certainly for the ones who can afford to be discerning, is from “value for money” to “lifestyle value”
Retail brands and their products must increasingly add value to themselves by delivering quality and benefits that enhance the lives of their customers. In return, the customer will pay good money and provide lasting patronage to companies that improve their lives, the lives of people around them and the world in which they live.
It is no coincidence that many successful new brands are built from the customer lifestyle. A passion and perspective on life is transformed into an active assortment. in contrast, the model of beginning with an attractive supply chain in search of a market to sell to is clutching at the straws of a disappearing world.
New routes to profit
Of course, the retail world is made of businesses at different stages of their own evolution operating in markets which are also evolving into and through mass consumerism to more saturated scenarios. So, whilst the route to profit is as individual as brands themselves we should all be very much aware that adding “lifestyle value” to our ranges is essential whatever our stage of development or longevity.
A focus on realised, real margin and product sell-through is not only the key to our futures, but the way to the hearts of our consumers and ultimately a better and less wasteful way of retailing.
How are you adding “lifestyle value” to your assortment?
Is your personal preoccupation with volume running out of retail steam?
We can help?
Sleep on it and give us a call in the morning…
0044 79676 609849