The future of the seasonal buying approach by retailers has been under debate for a while now. Consumers report they don’t like buying clothing before the next season hits – they want clothes they can buy and wear now, not months from now. In a world where shoppers can think of something they want and have it be on its way within three quick taps on a smartphone, the idea of waiting six months for runway trends to hit the stores is completely outdated. Thinking about buying a winter coat during the summer or a swimsuit in the early spring when snow is on the ground feels ridiculous.
We are living in the New Retail Economy, where consumers have the power, with more choices and higher expectations than the traditional retail buying model is equipped to handle. With products available whenever and wherever consumers want them, brands that want to thrive need to differentiate, break the barriers of a seasonal mindset and offer new, innovative and exciting products regardless of the calendar date. To do this, retailers need to adopt a new buying mentality that gets new products to market faster than ever before, bridging the gap between the development process and the moment consumers physically touch the products they want to buy.
Brands that are getting it right
Burberry and Tom Ford recently challenged the status quo by replacing the four-show fashion calendar with just two, and offered purchase in-store and online options immediately following the presentations. Consumers could livestream the runway show and buy the looks with just a few clicks right after the final walk. By showing the collection at the same time it hit stores and leveraging the excitement from the runway – music, mood lighting, special effects – at the exact time consumers are ready to wear the looks, Tom Ford and Burberry were both able to better connect with consumers and ultimately drive more sales.
The other benefit of this new fashion calendar is that brands don’t alienate global consumers in non-Western markets and climate patterns. Branding collections by the month they’re shown – February, June, September – rather than by season – summer, winter, and fall – brands can capture a larger customer base and expand to new demographics.
This revolutionary concept doesn’t stop with apparel: home décor is also moving toward a seasonless model, as more consumers look for home goods that will work for them year-round, forcing retailers in this space to rethink their approach. If consumers are looking for timeless pieces that will work for all seasons, they aren’t going to bind themselves to a particular calendar – they’re going to be looking for product all year round.
As an industry, the effort we put into the frontend of retail for the end consumer experience should match the backend process of getting those products to market. If we want to foster a sense of urgency and drive demand by providing a more modern and digital shopping experience, we can’t expect consumers to revert back to a traditional mindset and wait for product to become available based on specific time of the year. Breaking free of a seasonal buying cycle means being able to offer more differentiated, quality products when consumers want them, appealing to demand for near instant gratification and helping retailers not only survive, but thrive in the New Retail Economy.
To learn more about the New Retail Economy and what this means for your business, read the report: Welcome to the New Retail Economy.