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Fashion Retail Needs to Adapt

Retail is hurting around the world, and fashion is one of the hardest hit sectors. Many will weather the storm, and keep their heads above water until things start to bounce, but many will either have to adapt and change or face an uncertain future.

Its been hard to find companies who are doing something amazing in this space, and beyond the emergence of online shopping (of which only some players have taken full advantage of), innovation is a necessity not a luxury.

The challenge is to innovate and I recently came across a new business model in the world of publishing from Lightning Source called 'print on demand' which sparked some ideas for the world of fashion retail.

Lightning Source provide a great example of innovation in an industry that is facing big challenges from a difficult retail climate (think Borders in the US and AUS), unpredictable inventory demand and forecasting plus huge shifts in the way people want to read and access content.

Rather than guessing demand and printing lots of inventory and heavily promoting to sale, Lightning Source have developed a pull strategy which relies on fast response and small print runs.

Make only what you need to sell, and eliminate full warehouses of excess stock.

This type of approach has changed the way the publishing industry operates, kept costs down, and also opened up a whole new market of smaller, self publishing authors who may not have otherwise been able to get their work out there.

How can this thinking apply in fashion retail? Some companies are already trialing ideas in this space, pushing their supply chains back, reducing lead times and minimums, holding central inventory at the country of origin (allowing for more flexibility of where it goes).

Another interesting business model is an online platform called Etsy. This is a marketplace that allows for small crafts people to list their items and make only what people order. On a small and local level this is working great, with the internet providing a much wider market to these operators.

Keep your eyes on this space because the most innovative fashion companies will find new ways to add value and break the old retail model, and those who succeed will come out of the challenging economic climate with pace leaving the competition behind.

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Reader Comments (2)

Business is always unpredictable. This is what we all need, to evolve together with these hindrances. Good thing we are being backed by technology.

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSalwarekameez

Absolutely, thanks for the comments and stay timed for more technology posts targeted to fashion

March 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterDane

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