From Runway to Retail: the Demand for Instant Gratification

Fashion month — the term given to the fashion shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris throughout February — may be over, but retailers have a tremendous opportunity to leverage the excitement created at the shows well beyond the final walk. Once merely an over-hyped trade show, the fashion week concept has transformed into a glitzy spectacle for consumers designed to capture more sales by creating hype for the collections well ahead of when they go on sale. It's a marketing ploy at its finest — and one that hasn't been entirely successful since its inception.

Retailers are struggling to create products consumers actually want to buy, and launching a product six months before it goes on sale has not been an effective method for retaining the attention and loyalty of the market.

Retail pressure continues: cue "see-now-buy-now"
Brands are under immense pressure to deliver spectacular products, andthey typically spend months getting collections ready to showcase during fashion month. Adding to this stress are increasingly impatient consumers who demand options for making purchases immediately after the curtains close, which puts the burden on designers to produce clothing they're confident will sell right out of the gate.

Consumers don't want to wait six months for a designer's collection to go on sale any more than they want to buy bathing suits in December which is when resort wear hits the racks. If the retail community wants to capture the attention of consumers and make them buy, we need to ditch the outdated, season-oriented model of selling and give them what they want, when they want it. The see-now-buy-now phenomenon is taking over the industry because it allows retailers to meet consumers where they are and truly capture the excitement of the fashion show experience to capture more sales.

Retailers need to shorten the design and production process to make it more efficient and give consumers an end product that's not just on trend, but high quality — and something they actually want to buy.

Trust me, it's possible
Some of today's top brands — Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger — have already challenged the status quo. They've shortened their production cycles to offer collections for purchase on-site, in-store and online immediately after their fashion shows. By leveraging the excitement from the runway – music, mood lighting, special effects – and showing the collection at the same time it hits stores and consumers are ready to wear the looks, retailers will be able to better connect with consumers and ultimately drive more sales.

The future is already here
The current model of creating and selling retail products doesn't support the rising demand for instant gratification. Product teams need to adopt a buying mentality that gets products to market faster, enables better sharing of ideas and delivers them on-target and personalized. Brands must leverage shared knowledge and co-create with designers, merchants, suppliers and everyone in between from the very beginning so they can move more seamlessly from the moment they discover a big idea to when it hits the shelves.

It's more important than ever that retailers stay ahead of trends and accurately predict product demand. With an increasingly seasonless fashion calendar, retail teams have less time to prepare, create hype, analyze trends and understand demand before items go on sale. Beyond all that, retailers must also sell products across all channels consumers expect — online, in-store, in pop up shops and more — for a fully omnichannel experience that makes buying as simple and fast as possible. The only way to make this run smoothly and effectively is to revamp retail's backend. By collaborating with the entire retail community and embracing the see-now-buy-now approach, brands can fully meet the demands of the modern consumer.

Achieving instant satisfaction
In a world where shoppers can snap their fingers and receive any product they want in what feels like an instant, the idea of waiting six months for runway trends to hit the stores is inconceivable. As an industry, we should match the backend processes of getting a product to market with the effort, enthusiasm and passion we put into the frontend of retail for the consumer experience. In a mostly digital world, we can't expect consumers to revert to an antiquated mindset and twiddle their thumbs as they wait for products to be made available. Instead, we must foster a sense of urgency and drive demand by providing a more modern, instantaneous shopping experience. The way we achieve that is by arming our designers, merchandisers and sourcing product teams with the digital tools on the back end that have become so common on the front end.

As chief product officer at Bamboo Rose, Ann Diamante has directed retail merchandising, private-label development and operations for some of the largest U.S. retailers and oversees Bamboo Rose's entire suite of products. Follow her at @amd0163 and Bamboo Rose at @GoBambooRose.
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