Fashion is Drowning in Inventory. Will Data Be its Life Raft?

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At Thursday's Sourcing Summit, experts from Evrythng and First Insight discussed fashion's supply and demand problem.

CREDIT: Sourcing Journal. Sourcing Journal founder and president Edward Hertzman, left, and First Insight CEO Greg Petro.

The events of this year have delivered an undeniable gut punch to the fashion industry, illuminating its most glaring weaknesses and inefficiencies. Chief among them is the glut of inventory that brands have been struggling in vain to manage for decades.

Whether brands have managed to unload their spring-summer 2020 wares to off-price retail, liquidate them in their own stores or pack them away for brighter days ahead, many are desperately seeking to climb out from under heaps of unsold goods.

At the Sourcing Journal Summit on Thursday, founder and president Edward Hertzman tapped industry insiders and innovators for answers in a panel entitled “The World is Drowning in Textiles: Can Fashion Find a Fix?”

Greg Petro, founder and CEO of retail predictive analytics firm First Insight, believes that Murphy’s last point may prove most salient. “Inventory has always been an issue in this industry, and it’s because it’s been supply-driven, not demand-driven,” he said. The events of 2020, stemming from the Covid crisis, have magnified the problem, highlighting a “clear lack of understanding for what demand for a product will be.”

Fashion’s adoption of new technology has been lagging, he added, compared with other industries. That’s a problem when the only way to solve an inequity between supply and demand, in his view, is to leverage new, data-driven solutions. Mining consumer data can help brands determine what they are actually looking to buy, while granular insights into the supply chain can help companies produce to demand with more precision.

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retail technologies  technology  retail technology  inventory  voice of the customer  Data  voice of the customer tools  reduce excess inventory  new technology  Voice of Customer Analytics  inventory management  Coronavirus  COVID-19