Speed to market is increasingly crucial as the pace of the fashion industry accelerates. Ready-to-wear clothing is now expected to be available for purchase almost as soon as the styles have hit the runway. Consumers seeking instant gratification are driven from discovery sources like Instagram, looking for the latest pieces across channels.
They’re not as concerned as fashion and apparel brands might wish they were when it comes to where they’re buying – product, price and service are the essentials of this kind of experience. Branded websites are an important channel but it’s far from the only way consumers are willing to shop. That means brands need to be willing to get to market through those multiple channels to capture the customer’s attention.
That’s not to indicate that branding and image aren’t important – it just means that the brand needs to be accessible and high-quality product listings need to be available across channels. Above all, time spent not being visible on these channels is money lost.
Here are the top 3 ways fashion brands can get to market faster.
1. Central product data
Far too often, there is only a patchy process which details how the vital information about products can be converted into high quality listings online. For apparel brands trying to get to market faster, one way to create a better process for creating listings efficiently starts with the consumer.
What information does a customer need in order to purchase? What does their search experience look like? Which attributes will give the biggest boost in search?
While answers to these might be hard to scientifically prove, they are good starting points for drawing up a central data standard that the ecommerce team can build upon.
The challenge is then to propagate this data standard back through the business so that it’s easily accessible and understood by all relevant departments. This should help prevent listing teams having to scavenge together data from disparate sources and wasting time looking for important information they should already have access to.
Finally, collating this data standard in one system is a useful way to ensure that it’s constantly up to date and easily accessible to the team.
2. Balance the bare minimum with the brand requirements
Almost every listing channel has a set of minimum requirements for product data, and then a long list of optional product data fields. The fastest way to list, unsurprisingly, is to do the minimum amount of work.
Understanding the minimum requirements for channels will help shape the central data standard discussed above, but also can allow brands to launch products much faster. Enriching these listings with additional data to increase conversion and search exposure is a crucial part of this process, but a listing does not need to be perfect to go live and be useful. While some optional fields like search terms are pretty essential to being found, there are plenty which aren't.
Of course, there is a balance here between the desire to get to market quickly and the need to represent the brand authentically and in a great light at all times. Listings missing too much information can damage the customer experience or look unprofessional. Striking a balance is essential.
3. Adopt intelligent technology
Artificial intelligence is an overused term, often applied incorrectly or to use cases which wouldn’t suit its capabilities. However, in the case of creating quality product listings, intelligent software which can learn to map categories and attributes accurately across listing channels is a game changer.
It saves the listing team time immediately by allowing them to create one single data set, which the system can then automatically map to listing channels. Eliminating manual channel mapping removes a whole painful step of the process of listing, and allows new products to be surfaced to the market much faster.
It also offers other benefits, such as improved search visibility and better customer experience for potential shoppers.
Overall, brands can look to internal processes and intelligent technology to set up for rapid listing which allow them to get to market as fast as possible.