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Guide to Growth: Should retailers look at other seasonal ‘peaks’?

The importance of Black Friday and Christmas as annual sales peaks grows each year, making or breaking success for fashion retailers and brands. But is there a need to consider other periods in your forecasting to be able to maximise on customer demand?

Alternative seasonal peaks, such as national holidays, ‘back to school’ periods and even sporting events such as the World Cup can provide increased sales opportunities and further chances to deliver personalised and targeted product.

By developing a programme of activity across the year, businesses can promote a series of customer moments to build engagement and loyalty.

To tackle them successfully, it is important to pick those most relevant to your customer, and plan product and promotions around the events to gain their attention.

For example, an internationally positioned business may choose to focus on Chinese New Year and offer promotions for its Chinese customers in January. This builds a relationship with the customer to generate spend throughout that period, but also the rest of the year.

According to Dino Rocos, non-executive director at Clipper Logistics, events such as Valentine’s Day and Easter must also be addressed “as they are overlaid with customer expectation”. It is important to deliver “a curated and differentiated assortment” for each of these seasonal peaks to satisfy the customer desire and demand, he says.

“The route to success is, in part at least, to understand your customer, drive every element of the organisation to exceed the customer’s expectation and work with partners who can add the value that doesn’t form part of your core organisation,” Rocos explains.

To do this, you must ensure an agile supply chain to deliver product in a timely fashion but also, he advises, to “protect contribution margin through control of inventory and containment of operation costs, especially for e-fulfilment”.

People power is also crucial, according to Martin O’Grady, senior operations director at Clipper.

Businesses can experience difficulties if they rely on short-term staff throughout the retail calendar, and this can lead to increased automation, which O’Grady says can be a hindrance.

“Retailers need to ensure that they hire, train and hold staff in advance of peak periods to ensure the correct resources are in place when the volume arrives, factoring capacity into budgets from the outset,” he advises. “If this isn’t done, the risk of not finding the right people, or the right numbers of people, is driving businesses to speed up the adoption of automation solutions which in turn slows down their implementation.”

Managing resources is also key to forecast accuracy, which is “pivotal to successful service delivery [and] one key to finding a competitive advantage” according to O’Grady.

Some important alternative peaks to consider for 2020:

March

8 March: International Women’s Day

22 March: Mother’s Day

April

1 April: April Fools’ Day

10 – 13 April: Easter

May

16 May: Eurovision Song Contest final

June

21 June: Father’s Day

29 June: Wimbledon begins

July

20 July: Many schools finish for summer

24 July: Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

Whole month: University graduations

August

28 August: Back to school

September

Whole month: University freshers’ weeks

October

31 October: Halloween

November

5 November: Bonfire Night

December

Whole month: FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar

Our advice portal for retailers and brands, Guide to Growth, aims to solve the problems and challenges fashion businesses encounter as they grow. Email your questions to associate editor graeme.moran@emap.com and we will get them answered. Plus, read our Growth in a Changing Economy report here to learn how fast-growth brands and retailers are overcoming barriers to growth. Drapers’ Guide to Growth programme is produced in partnership with Clipper.

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