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Retail Apparel and Clothing Business Consulting Services

Retail Apparel and Clothing Business
Consulting Services

Retail Clothing / Apparel Industry

By now, it is clear that no matter how badly we may want to go back to the ‘normal’ as we knew it before the pandemic of 2020; we will have to embrace the ‘new normal’. Even a small change in consumer behaviour calls for big adjustments on the part of businesses. And here we are looking at some major shifts in consumer behaviour brought about by lockdowns, curfews, social distancing, staying home, etc. These conditions are going to hold in the foreseeable future as the world’s economy prepares to stage a comeback.

Fashion retail businesses that survived the economic onslaught of the recent quarters have accepted the changed business environment. Improvisations in doing business are being explored. New challenges have begun to appear. The demand in the fashion markets that were subdued for months has started to show signs of improvement. With trade and travel restrictions being eased, fashion businesses are trying to re-establish their trading connections with suppliers and customers. As for the fashion retailers, they will need to bat an eye on the trends and development in the industry.

Up and coming in the Retail Fashion and Apparel Industry

The torchbearers

The big brands will be the torchbearers in the fashion and apparel industry in the coming months. With the might of their expertise and resources, the big fashion houses will quickly retain their dominance in the domestic and foreign markets. Aggressive marketing tactics will be apparent. Supply chain integrations and collaborations at the international level might emerge as a powerful diversification strategy. The outcome of their efforts will be the learning lessons for other businesses in the industry. Independent fashion brands and retailers are likely to take cautious and short-term stands.

Cautious demand forecasting

Even if consumer demand is on a rising trend, fashion retailers might remain pessimistic about it. This is especially true for the leading brands with chains of stores. Any estimate over the board will lead to the creation of surplus inventory and stuck investments. Such pessimism is driven by apprehensions of lockdowns and curfews in the near future. Traditional and independent retailers and wholesalers will have to excogitate new ways of doing business for survival.

Consumer demand not going anywhere

Irrespective of the stand adopted by fashion businesses, clothing and many other products of the fashion industry constitutes a fundamental need for people. So, the consumer demand may rise slowly or the average buying volumes may be lesser than that of the previous years but it will not disappear. Enterprises that learn how to reach out to customers and markets and complete the shopping cycle will get to win in the business of fashion.

Incentivising customers

While it will not be difficult for fashion brands to draw back customers who already love shopping, efforts will be required to entice customers with the buying power but the lockdowns and curfews have dampened their motives. Offers and discounts are the biggest tools available to retailers to generate more sales.

Need to explore new market regions

Fashion businesses have to diversify their locational market risks. By confining themselves to one market, they would be putting their business at risk. As the outbreak of the virus variants has been discrete and unpredictable, we can see that different countries and regions within the same country have different levels of countermeasures deployed.

Omnichannel is the way forward

What was slated to be achieved with the digitization of retail in years has now been narrowed down to months. With lockdowns and curfews in place, it was eCommerce that came to the rescue. As eCommerce was allowed in many countries, it provided a sigh of relief to retailers and manufacturers to keep their business afloat. It is appreciable of the governments that managed to keep the production and supply chain networks active during a time of crisis. Going forward, digital commerce in fashion retail will hold the key to quickly gain back the lost momentum in sales. This was evident in the performance of several eCommerce marketplaces in the last one year or so. It will also complement the changed consumer behaviour in terms of lesser outdoor shopping activities and maintaining the norms of social distancing in stores and other public places and commutes.

Impact of geopolitics

As the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of textile and footwear, China plays a big role in the global fashion industry. Fashion clothing consultants and apparel consulting experts from the industry know this. The fragility of geopolitics never augured well for business. Any major upheaval in geopolitics could further disrupt the global production and supply chains. And if that happens, the fashion markets around the world are bound to feel its heat.

Re-emphasis on the franchise route

Both big and independent fashion brands and businesses are likely to shift their focus to the franchise route. Fashion brands and retailers will have to cover a few extra miles for bringing customers back to action. It is an open highway for the big brands to formulate their franchise expansion strategy. Done right, they could be doing more business than ever before. Franchisees will have to ensure that their interests are protected. Business growth and development has to be proportionately justified.

An opportunity in disguise?

The retail fashion industry has the potential to bounce back strong. The recent slowdown in the industry has many positives. It continues to be a time to retrospect business vision and strategies going into the future. For the small players, there was never a better time to comprehend and realize the importance of eCommerce. It has given the big fashion brands an opportunity to revisit production and environmental concerns. This is the storm we need to come out of stronger.

How YRC can help

Established in 2012, YRC (Your Retail Coach) is a retail and eCommerce consulting firm. We provide omnichannel business consulting services to fashion brands and retailers. From business model validation to operational planning, we offer a multitude of services in the fashion and apparel sector.

Clients benefit from our market research as we present an insightful and comprehensive perspective of the target market. The benefits also extend to reading and comprehending new market regions. For example, many fashion and apparel businesses from around the world want to know more about starting and operating a clothing business in India. Sometimes the question is how to start a clothing business online or is clothing business profitable. For many independent fashion designers, the question turns to how to start a fashion business from home.

Our fashion business consultants help clients develop competitive business models based on niche and UVP for long-term growth and sustainability. Working with us, clients get to foresee the commercial and financial implications of their business projects and decisions. Whether it is opening a new store or starting an online sales channel, the relevant financial and commercial estimates shall be brought to the limelight including purchase planning and demand forecasting. If it is a store-based business or warehousing is involved, we also deal with the layout planning part. Keeping in mind the requirements of the target segment and trends in consumer behaviour, we craft CX strategies that complement the business priorities. We not only preach but also show how the implementation should take place in the form of SOP design and development. Here, our goal is to make the clients’ fashion and apparel business systems process-driven from the core so that they are always ready for scale and change.

We are a boutique retail and eCommerce consulting firm. For more information on our retail fashion business consulting services or if you have any queries for our team of fashion business consultants, drop us a message and we shall get back to you.

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We work only for Visionaries.

PROCESS AUTOMATION

The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

IT INTEGRATION

Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

 

At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

UI & UX DESIGNING

This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

BRANDING

Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

CRITICAL PATHWAY

Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

MARKET RESEARCH

Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.