Last week we hosted our 5th innovation event. We had the pleasure of welcoming many of our customers, partners, and other interested parties who are part of the store development market. During the week, we started our conversation discussing different sustainability perspectives across the different regions. As you can imagine, Asia, Europe, and the Americas are not all on the same page; however, everyone recognizes its importance.
The fast fashion industry is, after the oil industry, the most polluting industry. This is mainly due to the fact everything in the fashion industry needs to change fast. During our conversations, we sought to switch the idea from fast to a more efficient concept called ultra-short. The changing perception from ‘fast’ to ‘ultra-short’ triggered us to come up with different solutions and decisions.
Luckily, because we are in the store development industry, we have no direct link to “Far East production and trying to get it as soon as possible to other sides of the world”, “returns of ecommerce for which it is too expensive to repack and sell after the return”, etc. We do, however, see many examples where items like air-conditioning units are shipped around the world before being installed. Sure, around the world can be done fast, but why not be ultra-short? After all, it’s simpler and more effective to manufacture around the corner. Systems often play a big role in why these decisions seem to be so hard to make. Being in the niche market of Store Development Supply Chain, we agreed that education and awareness is key to drive change. We have the systems-- now we have to start working on changing the mindset and costs. As a result, we will soon discuss store openings and its impact on the environment.
Continuing our innovation week, we pushed a “force to fit” mindset. We invited the Seafood Bar out of The Netherlands to share learnings with the group about how a supply chain is organized within a Seafood Bar. Guess what-- Fish start smelling when displayed too long. A recommendation out of this force to fit exercise: Handle fashion as fish.
The second interesting part is that the mix of seafood restaurants and bars make it possible to have NO waste and NO excess inventory. What went wrong with the world’s largest fashion player reporting over 4 billion units of excessive inventory? They obviously didn’t treat fashion as fish. The results, however, are likely the same. If you have smelly fish in your restaurants, your guests will stay away. Look up the traffic counts and excessive fashion seems to stink as well.
A question arose about not having products available for customers. It was answered with the simple statement: “Sold out is the ultimate statement of our freshness”. Within the Seafood Bar, they are able to turn being out of stock into a positive perception. That bears one to question how we can do that in fashion.
Fresh fish is equivalent to high quality. Bad quality can poison customers and leave them with a bad taste in their mouths about your restaurant. How are your quality standards set to avoid poisoned customers? Is your supply chain flexible enough to adjust or do you have items just waiting around to poison the next customer?
Again, it feels like ultra-short rather than fast is what could help you.
Above all, the discussion was about the staff, the people, the communication, the training, and the happiness that directly links to success. Don’t just go the cheap way out. Go all in like a soccer team that wants to win the world cup. Customers will understand why out of stock means better quality. Don’t underestimate them.
Whilst forcing ourselves to fit Fish to Fashion, we hope that it at least gave the group a different perspective and maybe even ideas to influence change towards a better result and a better world.
Retail with your Senses
The conversation about sensory retail linked very well to the Seafood Bar story. Who must we become as retailers to serve the needs of our customer group in the future? That is what interested me. Do a full 180 and be that customer. Try to understand what he or she needs. Women want to discover, gather, and get rewarded at the end by buying themselves a present. Men want structure and buy what they need. Nothing new, right?! Now, look around at how stores are created. As a retailer, you need to have the courage to choose. Focus on a specific target group, recognize their needs, and react to that accordingly. You’ll know as a retailer what you need to do to serve your customer group in the future.
Almost everything that’s created is aimed at sight, but 60% of the impression people get from a store comes from hearing, feeling, and smelling. Even though we are in the business of store development and we make global store development easy, we often look at our data reports and ask ourselves why high investments are made in certain categories and not in others. Connecting the dots here will result in more successful stores. Put as much focus on that 40% as you do that 60% that isn’t seen. Technology is useful, but make sure it’s used for the right audience. Once you have all these pieces combined correctly, then you are ready to grow.
Growth isn’t easy. It hurts and requires dedication. Building bricks & mortar requires a lot of capital. Caliber now has been studying the working capital in the store development space for over 8 years. Typically, cash out isn’t in line with cash in for the retailer or for the suppliers. Traditionally, we see that the working capital impact is pushed out to the suppliers because the Brand-- the dominant and ultimate buyer-- can do so. Most likely, crises occur where suppliers needed the business and accepted the extended payment terms. We also see that the Brand outsources the entire project to a turn key project management company or a general contractor at the acceptance of higher costs and risk mitigation. Now, how much higher the costs are usually unknown because “it is capital” and depreciates over time. That only works when the competition is not that high, but looking around, every retailer has competition right now. So, the depreciation line on the P&L starts to hurt at some time! Most likely NOW.
Therefore, we introduced the Store Development Wallet: a solution for growing / changing global retailers. This new system keeps suppliers from increasing prices as a result of different payment terms, allows brands to match store opening with investments, and it works on a global scale.
The partnership between ING and Caliber Global provides a solution which is a combination of technology, people, and processes. The technology allows Brands to stay in control and source centrally without the need to buy everything with general contractors or turn key companies. The connection to ING allows companies to match investments with opening dates without pushing that financial burden to the suppliers.
I look back at a great 5th innovation event and want to thank everybody that participated.