Fashion Retailers Urged to Take Stock
With UK retail sales falling to their lowest point since Easter and growing numbers of clothing stores struggling to survive, Andrew Underwood, partner at KPMG Management Consulting, is warning fashion retailers to adopt a new approach to managing their supply chain, or risk being saddled with debt mountains, caused by immovable stock.
He says: “The rise of ‘fast fashion’ has placed a huge strain on the marketplace, with retailers struggling to shift goods before they become ‘yesterday’s season’. Consumer pressure also means that the concept of having a fresh floor every month has changed the way supply chains need to perform. It’s no longer enough to ‘buy to sell’ as retailers now need to pay closer attention to product lifecycles, improve forecast accuracy and take a fresh look at their supply chain just to keep their heads above water.
“For far too long lip service is the most that has been paid to the importance of real-time monitoring, but if anything is clear, it is that the retailers who make use of cloud technology to instantly bring together information from every corner of the supply chain, will be in a better position to manage demand.
“The simple fact is that predictions coming out of Head Office no longer suffice. With a growing number of consumers turning to tablets and mobile apps to shop on the move, supply chains somehow have to cope with rapidly changing demand, driven by social media rather than traditional channels to market. But unless the right system is in place, how can retailers reasonably expect to separate and manage stock? How can they be geared up to provide the right number of units in the right place at the right time?
“The answer lies in greater collaboration with each part of the supply chain, so that ‘consensus forecasting’ becomes the norm, rather than the exception. Only when retailers take on board the information gleaned in real-time by their suppliers, logistics and customer service teams who deal with after-sales returns can true picture of stock availability be painted. And only then will stock-piling stand a chance of becoming a thing of the past.”