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Can Technology Save Brick-and-Mortar Retail?

Can Technology Save Brick-and-Mortar Retail?

November 25, 2015

Fast fashion and e-commerce have been two of the most disruptive forces in the apparel industry in recent years. In fact, the explosive growth of e-commerce has caused some industry pundits to predict the demise of brick-and-mortar retail.

Brick and mortar retailing is alive and well, though. That was the consensus of a panel of experts at Sourcing Journal’s “Currents of Change” Summit last month in New York.

Our own Mark Burstein, NGC’s president of sales, marketing and R&D, participated in a lively panel discussion with Janice Wang, CEO of Alvanon, an apparel sizing and fit company; Hebe Schecter, president of textiles company Kaltex North America; and John Harmon, senior analyst at Fung Business Intelligence Center.

Panel participants touched on a wide range of topics – improving speed to market, understanding what consumers really want, making stores more relevant – and ultimately, how supply chain and other advanced technology can give brick-and-mortar retailers and brands a competitive edge.

Sourcing Journal recently wrote an article summarizing the panel discussion, and we think you’ll enjoy it. Let us know what you think:

Ask anyone in the know what turned the apparel industry on its head and the answer is likely to be one of two things: Zara or e-commerce. Both helped to fan the flames of consumers’ desire for new styles at relatively cheap prices however and whenever they want to shop—and brands and retailers alike have been playing catch-up for years.

But there are still plenty of lessons to learn from both business models, as a panel of experts stressed to attendees at Sourcing Journal’s “Currents of Change” Summit last week in New York.

“Brick-and-mortar is not going away,” stated Mark Burstein, president of sales, marketing and research and development at NGC Software. “It will never go away because a lot of times you go shopping with your family, you go shopping with your friends; it’s a memory event. But the goal is to really get the product that the customer wants and the one finite constraint with brick-and-mortar retailers is retail space. You can’t build more walls as quickly as you can get the right products.” [[more]]

“What we’re all dealing with is this idea of speed to market,” agreed Janice Wang, CEO of apparel sizing and fit company Alvanon. “I think a lot of people are chasing this model of fast fashion, keeping people entertained and consumers coming back into your store and having this constant newness.”

“The supply chain has become very, very important,” Burstein continued. “The Zara model is really about getting the product to the customer as quickly as possible, the one who will pay full price because that’s where you make the most profits. It’s not about creating floor sets—how can we get it to the consumer who wants to buy it?”

“We are in the era of faster, cheaper,” echoed Hebe Schecter, president of textiles company Kaltex North America. “We’re trying to connect samples and costing and manufacturing. The only way to connect all those dots is through technology.”
She added, “I believe the only way for us to be better, more efficient and compete all over the world is to understand what the end-consumer wants.”

Burstein agreed, pointing out the need for a feedback loop so that as things are selling in the stores, everyone has access to point-of-sale information for each one of those products so more can be made if needs be, or if the merchandise isn’t moving, it can be dropped.

Click here to read the full article in Sourcing Journal