Tom Callaghan

February 16, 2021

Podcast EP.32: Best practices for assortment planning in the new retail landscape

On unEDITED: Inside Retail, Carla Tuttlebee, Head of Buying & Merchandising at Vero Moda, delivers best practices for assortment planning in this new age.

In the US alone, it is estimated that dead inventory is costing retail $50 billion a year. To avoid this, people working in buying and merchandising shouldn’t neglect the data-driven tools needed to compete in today’s challenging retail environment.

Retailers have traditionally done assortment planning manually and are stuck using old, time-consuming processes. In this new age of retail, trends are rolling out faster than ever so brands need to throw out their former processes and opt for a solution that’s backed by data and AI. 

Market data has helped buyers and merchandisers like Carla Tuttlebee build a successful assortment in real-time. On unEDITED: Inside Retail’s latest episode, Carla, Head of Retail Buying & Merchandising at Vero Moda, delivers best practices for assortment planning in this new age. With previously held positions at Burberry and Nike, Carla has been in the industry for 15 years.

Key takeaways:

  • Companies are realizing the importance of digital data more than ever. Vero Moda uses data to ensure that they’re making relevant assortment decisions. Key trends enable them to work on shorter timelines by having more fact-based visibility of what’s going on in the market. According to Carla, “We need to make sure we’re backing the right trends and that we tell clear products stories, otherwise it’s easy to do a little bit of everything and then you quickly become nothing.”
  • Never out of stock (NOOS) is to optimize stock availability on the styles that have the longest lifecycle and the basic styles that a retailer can rely on. It differs from company to company: for Burberry, it’s the trench coat; Nike, it’s the Air Force 1; and for Tommy Hilfiger, it’s the polo.
  • Currently, Vero Moda is prioritizing their reopening strategies. The Danish retailer is looking at the seasonality of styles in its warehouse and future orders to see how they can ensure products are as seasonably relevant as possible. It’s essential to have the right balance of newness in fashion with a clear markdown focus where needed.
  • Moving forward, there will be a significant shift in the importance of physical events. In line with fashion weeks going digital, comp shops will take on this form and happen at a different frequency.

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