Guest edit: forget the status quo

by Marc Weiss
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Reinvention today is based on three trends in retail: speed, convenience and scarcity. Speed to market of new fashion. Speed and scarcity driving the elevated streetwear market. Through drops and launches, vendors create demand via scarcity of product. We’re witnessing the beanie baby phenomenon on steroids, where customers are paying crazy prices, significantly higher than retail. Granted, a good portion of this is resold on the Internet. Through e-commerce, shopping becomes convenient.

Scarcity is created by vendors limiting delivery. Comme Des Garçons precludes oversaturation by limiting their accounts’ open-to-buy each season, just one example of how vendors are in control. But those retailers with hustle, who are fast to these prized vendors, are generating huge increases and capturing market share.

What’s interesting to me is how so many of the top luxury men’s stores completely missed this opportunity. Their customers are snapping up these coveted products at cool new stores and websites that appeal to the new wave of hip and youthful wealth. One of our retailer clients in its seventh year, coming into the business with no experience, is crushing it. They did it by rolling the dice on what became “it” brands, through great storytelling, and with knowledgeable and caring sales associates. They were not afraid of a $700 sneaker or a $300 T-shirt, and neither are their customers.

Speed and hustle involve a willingness to gamble without fear of failure. Not all collaborations work; some pop-ups are better than others. Butch Blum, a longtime successful retailer and now consultant, offers the following: “My experience with pop-ups has been mixed. The shops that

seem to work best are the ones located close to the store’s main entrance. A broad assortment of goods is important, as is a good supply of inventory to replenish bestsellers.”

One notable success story: Kith was founded in 2011, by 2017 was sharing a look book with Bergdorf Goodman and now has a store within Bergdorf’s. They know how to capitalize on each other’s markets, both demographically and psychographically. Understanding the crossover in product and customer following is critical. To best accomplish this type of collaboration, you need to be a strong, consistent storyteller on social media.

It goes without saying that today’s customers want convenience and new goods all the time. Expectations have changed: the Internet has trained us to shop 24.7.365. Studies have proven the longer the lead-time on delivering goods, the lower the sell-through and profit. A few deliveries a year does not give your customers reason to visit you regularly. Thanks to Nike and Adidas, young male customers are being trained earlier and earlier to want new goods. Ask any 16-year-old what’s on Nike’s next quick strike launch and he or she will respond with color and style. These are your next generation customers, in stores and online.

In sum, reinvention as an art form is a willingness to embrace and adapt to change, not fear it. Risk aversion steers you toward the status quo, even as the status quo is tumbling downhill.

Marc Weiss is president and CEO of Management One and Retail Orbit, a predictive retail analytics and consulting company for over 27 years. For information, visit www.management-one.com.