Collect the data of today for tomorrow – win back the trust in your data!
In the ever-evolving landscape of the apparel industry, data is the lifeblood that fuels decision-making, strategy development, and, ultimately, success. However, there is a common misconception that the data in this industry is 'poor.' It’s not about poor data but rather the complexity of the data that poses unique challenges. In this blog post, we'll delve into the intricacies of working with data in the fashion sector and how Chainbalance has developed a perfect way to help our customers trust their data.
What makes Data in Fashion so complex?
When we talk about complex data in the fashion industry, we're referring to a multitude of factors:
Diverse Till Systems: Apparel retailers often use over a hundred different point-of-sale systems, each with its own data format and quirks. Further, there are frequent updates to the systems, creating constant adaptations.
Missing Data: Sometimes, crucial data points are missing, making it challenging to get a complete picture.
EDI/ERP Connection: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) forwards data from these varied systems, but it's like trying to fit square pegs into round holes. The system tries to fit the hundreds of different formats into a universal one, causing data quality loss.
Mapping Challenges: Data mapping is a significant hurdle, as different systems use different formats, such as store codes or GLN numbers.
Timing Issues: The timing of data submissions varies, with the closing of tills not always aligning with data submissions, which means data is sometimes sent late or not at all.
Data Misdirection: The complexity can lead to teams looking at the wrong data because they are unsure how to work with it.
Cost Factors: EDI can be expensive, making data management even more complex because, e.g., you will receive an inventory file only once per week for cost-saving reasons.
All these factors create gaps and inconsistencies in the data. Sending data once per week, as some do, doesn't make it any simpler than daily updates. However, these challenges are also opportunities for innovation.
Chainbalance comes to the rescue
To address these complexities, Chainbalance employs a systematic approach. First, based on the steady data flow, we derive sufficient transactional information to fill in the missing dots, a critical piece of the puzzle. The more data points we have, the better our understanding becomes. We don't reinvent the wheel with each project; instead, we utilize a well-established data cleansing model. This model streamlines the process, ensuring we don't need to start from scratch every time we take on a new project.
During the onboarding phase, we run the data through our data cleansing model for at least two weeks. This extended period allows us to cleanse and accurately map the data, ironing out any inconsistencies and filling in missing information. The result is data that is not only cleaned but also more universal and unified, enhancing its reliability and usability.
But what for?
Why does all this effort matter? Because understanding and trusting data is paramount when it comes to decision-making. By providing our clients with data they can trust, we empower them to make informed choices that unlock their growth potential.
If we don’t clean and map the data first, daily micro-decisions will be based on unmatching information. This often results in overstocking and lost turnover. In contrast, when brands achieve a better overview of their data and understand it more deeply, they can avoid such challenges.
Transparency is key in the fashion industry, especially regarding data. Brands that base processes on complex data achieve a clearer understanding of their operations, leading to more strategic and impactful decisions. Ultimately, this transparency is a plus for every aspect of the business, especially in an industry as dynamic as fashion.
In conclusion, while data complexity may seem challenging, it's also an opportunity for growth and innovation in the apparel industry. At Chainbalance, we're committed to helping our clients navigate this complexity, allowing them to make informed decisions, drive growth, and stay ahead in the ever-changing fashion landscape. Trust in your data is the first step to unlocking the full potential of your business.
rich&royal - Reclaiming power through data
Let’s look at this from another angle. After we established why data in the apparel industry is so complex and how we approach this challenge, what do fashion brands have to say about this? Which challenges are they facing, and how do they handle them? We sat down with the Junior Process Manager of rich&royal, Julia Konrad, and Denis Stupp, Managing Director of rich&royal, to figure it out.
Navigating Challenges – the Pre-Chainbalance era
Before we came into the picture, rich&royal was already handling their merchandise management in the NOS area automatically with static 1:1 replenishment. This allowed them to use their data partially automatedly, but they also had to manually rework it to optimally serve the areas. Julia explained that ensuring continuity and comparability was a hurdle. Additionally, the lack of insights into customer’s inventories made replenishment a complex task. And even with transparency in stocks, there are not enough people to tackle this task manually.
Denis chimed in, highlighting the sheer volume of sales reports received without validation or cleaning. But also the differences between them. One week, maybe 400 customers send them, and the following week, 300. “No one ever checked,” he said, emphasizing the monumental task of manually sifting through vast amounts of data, tracking which customers sent data, when they sent it, and how continuously they sent it. The lack of workforce compounded these issues.
When data arrived late or was missing, the team at rich&royal struggled to keep track, sometimes only discovering errors after they’d already occurred. Their approach to contacting partners, correcting errors, and requesting the necessary changes is still used today. Yet, maintaining an overview and dedicating time to scrutinize each detail remained a significant challenge.
Transparency, continuity, and time – Hurdles to overcome
When Chainbalance entered the scene, the team expected a level of transparency and efficiency. Julia noted that there weren't many surprises during implementation. However, the manual processes for pre-ordering and re-ordering in the NOS area (replenishment) revealed unexpected stocking issues, particularly overstocking due to multi-positioning.
Denis added that they had already taken steps to control and monitor their processes but were surprised to see how much had gone wrong in practice. This realization was an eye-opener – profitability- as well as sustainability-wise.
The Power of Partnership and Acceptance – the Vision of “Growing Together”
rich&royal's partnership with Chainbalance has been strengthened by their retailers and partners' willingness to exchange data and trust in the innovative replenishment processes. Julia mentioned this was a positive surprise for them. In Denis's opinion, it doesn’t hurt that Chainbalance has already built up quite a reputation in the market and is known by many retailers due to partnerships with other fashion brands. Leading to retailers knowing Smart Supply works well. Further, Denis thinks that “this partnership is a great combination because of Smart Supply’s reputation as well as our own product, which performance-wise is really good right now. We are not connected to all goods, just NOS for now. But the retailers notice it works well if you give the replenishment into the hands of rich&royal, especially with the support of Smart Supply. This can only be a Win-Win-Win for everyone.”
Julia further highlighted rich&royal’s motto and vision to “grow together” with their partners. For them, it means embarking on a growth path together and assuming mutual responsibility. Through Chainbalance, they take over the merchandise management while the partner ensures the punctual and correct data transmission. “The takeover of the replenishment leads to an enormous performance increase of the POS, and by the increased productivity, we conquer turnover shares and POS”, Julia adds.
They regain transparency on their products and can identify and reduce overstock, which increases productivity and means taking ecological responsibility while optimizing merchandising processes.
“The goal is to provide the right goods, for the right POS, at the right time in the right quantity, and the result is, of course, the optimal use of capacity and maximization of sales.” – Julia Konrad
Both Julia and Denis stressed the importance of working with data in merchandise management for today and the future. They emphasized how data analysis helps optimize their products and serve sales areas effectively. The ever-increasing relevance of data in the industry makes its constant collection essential for success.
Denis summed it up succinctly: “Unimaginable. Too much has changed in the last 10, 20 or 30 years. It is incredibly difficult for retailers to generate gross profits to cover the ever-increasing costs and make a profit. The right handling of the goods is essential and complex at the same time. Without providing data and evaluating it, it's impossible.” Data is now the lifeblood of their operations, and without it, thriving in the fast-paced fashion world is simply inconceivable.
What can we take away from this information dump?
The whole data topic in the fashion industry might not be as scary to tackle as it seems initially, if you have the right help to untangle the mess, of course. Also, analyzing your data is essential in the dynamic consumer landscape (and will give you an advantage over your competitors). Do you want to learn more about how you can win back the trust in your data and unlock your hidden growth potential? Contact us here!