"2017 was the most challenging year in our 25-year history!"

"2017 was the most challenging year in our 25-year history!"

It’s impossible to have missed the fact that the retail industry is experiencing a tough time; 2017-2018 having been widely branded the year of the RETAIL APOCALYPSE, with retailers claiming the worst conditions in decades. And it’s not over yet…….

Over the last year there has been a roll call of high street casualties who have fallen foul of what can only be described as a toxic mix of conditions; rising costs, economic and political uncertainty, reduced consumer confidence thus spending, changing consumer shopping habits and sectoral changes.

Last week Next - the second biggest player (behind only Marks and Spencers) in the UK fashion market, announced a drop in sales and pre-tax profits fell, for the third year in a row, with the CEO Lord Wolfson stating that “2017 was the most challenging year in our 25 year history!”

Infact last week was a particularly busy week in terms of retail casualties and industry bad news with Moss Bros issuing a profit warning, B&Q announcing falling sales, the UKs largest carpet retailer; Carpetright announcing store closures, Mothercare in rescue talks with the banks, New Look announcing restructuring and store closure plans and House Of Fraser urgently seeking further financing to survive. It may be only Tuesday but the bad news is continuing this week as Select announces plans for a CVA.

If we delve into the reasons fashion retailers Next and Moss Bros gave for their current financial woes we see consistent themes; with Next blaming; “A difficult clothing market coincided with self-inflicted product ranging errors and omissions.” and Moss Bros attributing their profit warning to; “weak trading and problems with stock not arriving on time.”

A difficult clothing market and weak trading conditions are hard for individual brands/retailers to change but in a week where two of the UK’s biggest fashion retailers both highlighted Product and Stock issues as key reasons for their poor performance - this feels like it could be just the signal the UK fashion industry needed to refocus their efforts. Product and stock issues are well within retailers control and as the saying goes; “why waste your energy on the things you can’t change - use it on the things you can!” Yes the industry is facing tough trading conditions but there is no excuse for making costly PRODUCT and STOCK mistakes.

So how do we avoid Product and Stock mistakes in this current climate where consumer spend is being more tightly fought over than ever before?

Who to rely on? Well, who better to ask about Products and Stock than the very people who will be buying!

Over the last year we at Mallzee, have been building tools to do just this, as with over 20m customers opinions a month we’re in the unique position of being able to gather genuine consumer product opinion quickly and authentically thanks to our engaged shopping community.

We can test the ‘likeability’ and the success of potential products by showcasing these on our app even before a retailer has placed a stock order. Feedback is practically instantaneous and we provide retailers with genuine insight into predicted performance of potential products - which combined with their in-house merchandising processes mean they need never suffer the extremes of unwanted stock or running out and being unable to make timely re-orders of the best selling products. This approach can drive increases to gross margin of between 3-6%. All with no capital expenditure or long term IT projects, just another step in the critical path.

I’d predict that last week was just the tip of the iceberg - how many other retailers are coming unstuck in these difficult trading conditions because of their product selecting and stock ordering processes?

Get in touch to find out more about Product Future it’s easy to showcase your potential product ranges (there really is no technical integration needed) to avoid becoming part of the Retail Apocalypse bad news story…….we are confident we can help predict the future!

Cally Russell

Want to understand how Product Future by Mallzee Insights can improve your margins?

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