Let’s turn back the clock to a time long, long ago - January, 2020. When the fashion world was quickly working on innovative ways to create products that were more sustainable, streamlining the supply chain through technology, and fulfilling instant gratification needs of consumers through models like Buy Online, Pickup In Store and one-day shipping.
What a difference a few weeks make. Coronavirus has ground the retail industry to a halt. Many consumers living in hotspots are struggling with procuring essential goods within any span of time. Retailers and brands are struggling to offload soon-to-be outdated inventory while also fulfilling orders of items that are caught in the supply and delivery bottlenecks.
The result is a supply and demand chain that is completely broken. Not only are retailers forced to triage orders to suppliers (this Business Insider story from March 26 cites a letter from Ross to its suppliers saying they will be canceling orders), but they recognize the impact this will have on their ability to serve consumers as well. The same story cites a quote from Paul Rotstein, president of supplier, Gold Medal International, stating, "We've had pretty much 100% cancellation from all major retailers," he said. "I think we're looking at no income for at least 8 weeks." Other retailers like Macy's, Nordstrom, and TJ Maxx also announced that they are cancelling orders.
As a result, retailers and brands planning for a post-virus world are being faced with big challenges around not only offloading existing inventory, but adjusting assortments to determine how deep to buy and how to price heading into holiday 2020 - not to mention ensuring these decisions align with a consumer psyche that remains unknown. Which Spring/Summer 2020 orders should be cancelled? How much to buy for Fall/Holiday 2020? How to price items? What styles to select in Spring/Summer 2021?