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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Wessels

Part 1 of 8: Forgetting to look over your shoulder

Repeating high volume best sellers is NOT about building a stable core business #snorefest its one of your biggest growth levers, let me tell you why.

It's a natural inclination to always chase the 'next hottest thing' and usually that comes in the form of brand new designs, fabrics and trends but often as we're speeding ahead we leave some real money makers behind on the cutting table.

A valuable point to note, as we're chasing change, is that our customer base doesn't move on as fast as we do and many of them would love a chance to get that best seller that we completely sold out of in the last collection.

Of course, we need to guide her (our customer) to be fashion-forward but we also need to ensure that we give her what she wants and if we're selling out of her fave best seller in a matter of weeks you can be sure that we didn't give her everything she wanted.

Her demand was far higher than our supply and we missed an opportunity for growth.

Here's why if you're in a fashion business that's growing, and as this is certainly not the case for most fashion brands right now, let's stop for a minute and consider 2 things:

1. Your Product is on Point - congratulations to you and the team because clearly you're nailing your product-market fit and the demand for your brand is therefore increasing

2. The Why & How - it's so important, now more than ever to revisit the reasons WHY (the product attributes) you are gaining more customers, AND rethink your purchase depths, as you're clearly experiencing more traffic to your site and stores. This is something to be capitalised on right away and by capitalised I mean convert that traffic! Now is when you DON'T want to be running out of best sellers in 3 weeks, this will be terrible news for business growth.

The good news is that people despise feeling FOMO and you if you have already made them feel this by selling out so quickly of an item that they coveted then they will surely be back for more.

The Do's and Don'ts of the Over the Shoulder Glance

DO always look at past seasons to identify more longevity in those best sellers.

A golden rule is that from any great season or collection you can almost always identify at least one style that can live on and even become one of your core/never out of stock lines.

The average retailer has around 22%* of their prior season's range that have the potential to live at least another 18 months

DON'T be afraid that this is sacrificing the fashionability of your brand, its a growth lever. Would you really rather sacrifice growth in favour of a fashionability score?! I don't think so.

DON'T repeat 1 winning style in 5 colours! Please, I'm begging don't do this! This is age old fashion folly with the logic being that in doing so we diversify the risk when in FACT by the law of averages only 20% of the colours will perform well. So just pick 1 to 2 colours at the absolute max.

DO back these winners by buying depth. Now that Online is the main channel, buying significant volume in certain styles can go blissfully unnoticed by our current consumers and very handsomely recognised by new consumers! In the old days our volume buys would often give us away having visible racks of the same product in stores would dull our 'exclusivity feels'. Thus giving out the perception of oversupply. The fact is now, that if we have styles that can move volume this can, and will, deliver significant growth for us - if we'll just glance back for a moment.

DO look to the luxury brands for validation on this, next time you're in at Gucci or Louis Vuitton just notice the sheer volume of product lines that are available season after season. That's Louis and Gucci's bread and butter baby!

Of course we all have that slight inclination not to want to look over our shoulders at the past, particularly when only a portion of the range was considered 'fantastic', but it's so important for growth.

Consider this, if you made 500 customers very happy by launching a style which sold-out in 3 weeks there is guaranteed a much greater number of NEW customers who are out there waiting for you to show them that exact style in order to convert them for the 1st time!

For your next range, maximise on these styles that sold out within weeks - re-introducing these can be a major growth lever for your business.

Just glance back, you can thank me later.


In our next piece, we look at the biggest visual oversight in Range Planning - are you making this mistake?