Social media, m-commerce, e-commerce and globalisation have changed the way consumers interact and spend, adding new dimensions to the retail environment. This increasingly vast and complex environment brings great opportunities, but also great challenges for fashion line planners and merchandisers.
Today’s fashion retailers face constant pressure to attract and retain customers who are empowered, informed and connected by sophisticated digital technologies. They need to catch consumers’ attention with on-trend assortments while delivering a consistent and memorable brand experience across channels, locations and cultures – all while meeting or exceeding margin targets. In this highly-connected world, digital line planning and merchandising technologies are transforming the way fashion brands and retailers create and deploy collections.
Line planners and merchandisers are responsible for decisions that directly affect the balance sheet. As the gatekeepers of the consumer experience, the products and assortments they choose and the way they present them are pivotal to success. But trends, and competition, move fast in this industry and new lines are coming to market faster than ever before. Those decisions need to be informed by a full, up-to-date picture of what’s going on, and digital merchandising software provides that, bringing all that information together in real time to deliver a 360-degree view of the latest collections, trends, customer demands and sales figures. It enables planners and merchandisers to capture retail performance in real time, so they can see clearly what works and what can be improved and can make informed decisions based on the trends that are driving sales right now.
Visual merchandising is both an art and a science. It can take many iterations to showcase the products in a way that will entice the consumer and give them a unique and memorable brand experience. As such, merchandisers need to experiment with a variety of aspects including shop-floor location, fixtures and lighting effects as well as the garments themselves. Physically trying out each idea to see how well it works is time consuming, and this presents a growing challenge for merchandisers who are under pressure to introduce more new lines at increasing speed. If you can remove the need for physical tests and visualize assortment iterations in 3D, imagine how much space that would create to experiment with new merchandising ideas.
Today’s visual merchandising software is equipped with the latest 3D visualization capabilities so that merchandisers can build their vision using 3D images of real products. They can try out innovative ideas and, if something doesn’t quite work, make changes quickly before implementing their ideas in the store. By enabling merchandisers to create endless iterations quickly at low cost, the software creates space to try out innovative ideas that can really differentiate the brand.
Once the vision has been perfected, it can be shared across different stores complete with 3D walkthroughs that bring the ideas to life. Line planners and merchandisers can work together and get early-stage feedback on proposed collections and store set-up. They are empowered to provide assortments that suit the characters of different cities and locations while delivering a consistent brand experience across different locations.
Real-time information and 3D visualization delivers huge benefits for merchandisers, enabling a creative, innovation-based workflow that is much greater than the sum of its parts. By enabling collaboration on assortment planning and creating space to try out innovative ideas, visual merchandising software empowers merchandisers to build entertainment and interaction into every shopping experience so consumers feel truly connected to the brand. Merchandisers who can gain a rich, real-time understanding of consumers’ expectations can create an engaging story that will enhance the consumer’s relationship with the brand as well as generate sales – and those are impacts that every business wants to see.
Want to know more? Watch this Apparel Magazine webinar on 3D Merchandising!