Aligning Marketing and Merchandising Practices to Meet the Needs of Buy-Now, Wear-Now Customers

The vast majority of shoppers don’t hesitate to rip the tags off new clothing purchases, according to retail research agency Verdict. Its June 2016 clothing survey found that nearly 86% of consumers say they purchase clothing they can wear right away, and 51.4% prefer not to buy clothing too far in advance of the upcoming season – a tricky proposition considering that most retailers launch their seasonal lines months before the weather turns.

Statistics like these suggest that traditional buying cycles no longer reflect the way that consumers like to shop for clothing. Unpredictable weather patterns certainly don’t help, but the buy-now-wear-now trend is more likely propelled by social media, which has shortened product lifecycles by giving users greater exposure to more styles and feeding a perpetual desire for new products.

However, the research found that slightly more than 75% of consumers believe apparel retailers offer sufficient transeasonal options. As a result, the Verdict article speculates that the culprit for weak sales is actually misguided marketing and merchandising strategies that have traditionally been aligned towards peak seasons, versus product selection. For example, a shopper who is looking for a sundress to wear to a Labor Day picnic in California will likely have to find what she’s looking for on the sale rack despite relatively warm weather.

Some retailers are thriving despite this buy-now-wear-now shift by aligning their product and merchandising strategies with consumer shopping behavior. Two standouts in this space include a contemporary British-style clothing company and an international Spanish clothing and accessories retailer. The former focuses on selling transeasonal ranges, while the latter’s in-store display strategy embraces stylish layering. The Spanish retailer’s vertically integrated supply chain provides the foundation to adapt quickly to weather changes via flexible phasing, reactive product drops and regular visual merchandising updates. A global luxury brand is also taking a forward-thinking approach by making its collections “seasonless” – i.e., available to buy immediately and referring to them as February and September, versus the more traditional Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter labels.

To follow in the footsteps of advanced retailers, the article suggests that organizations should:

  • Ensure in-store and online inventory reflects current weather conditions
  • Showcase outfits that can be worn immediately in window displays
  • Use mannequins, hangers and online and social media channels to show how existing stock can be layered to accommodate changes in weather
  • Gear marketing strategies toward current fashion trends, versus upcoming seasons

Modifications to marketing and merchandising practices like those mentioned above will help retailers circumvent declining sales and customer satisfaction; however, the long-term fix requires fundamental changes to current product buying and phasing cycles to become more flexible, frequent and responsive. Such changes require the support of modern IT technologies. JustEnough’s fully integrated, highly scalable and agile suite of solutions support the end-to-end retail planning process, enabling businesses quickly adapt to trends and shifting customer buying behaviors in order to garner greater profits and market share. Contact us today to learn more.