Fashion retailers are under more pressure than ever to improve their operational agility to meet rising demand for “see now, buy now” fast fashion, new research by management consultancy Kurt Salmon has shown.
The study, which will be presented at the World Retail Congress in Dubai later today, explored the “see now, buy now,” trend and the readiness of retailers to deliver on it.
It found that one in eight 18-to-24-year-olds shops every week and buys fashion at least once a fortnight.
“Young consumers have a ‘see now, buy now, wear now’ mentality when it comes to fashion, which has been driven by big fashion houses making the latest designs and styles available to buy straight from the catwalk,” said Dan Murphy, managing director of Kurt Salmon, which is part of Accenture Strategy.
“This is challenging retailers to improve their operational agility to meet rising demand for current trends.
“This insatiable appetite for fast fashion will inevitably continue as these shoppers age. There is no reason to believe that younger consumers, who have grown up wedded to devices and social media, will expect anything less than instant gratification in years to come. [They will] continue to possess the same sense of style and image.”
Kurt Salmon said many retailers have been working hard to reduce their lead times to meet the growing demand for fast fashion. One fashion retailer it surveyed is now delivering new lines in two to three weeks.
Fast fashion womenswear retailer Quiz, which sources from the UK and the Far East, can turn certain styles around in two to five weeks.
“With a repeat order it could be as little as eight to 10 days,” business development director Sheraz Ramzan told Drapers.
However, he pointed out that this speed to market is built into Quiz’s business model. “All your systems need to be specifically geared up for speed.
“The design team has to adapt to and understand fast fashion, and IT need to be able to react to the real-time information that we get from customers.”
He added that demand is now “impacted significantly” by social media. “It has driven people to see and share items straight away, and to want to buy straight away, especially at the value end of the market where we sit. Our social media team is in very close communication with our buying team.
“A lot of businesses understand that they have to become faster. The nine-month buying model is antiquated in our view.”
One women’s young fashion supplier agreed: “We have noticed more people wanting things faster. People [retailers] have been looking for a five-or-six-week turnaround. We have to do things quicker and it’s something we’ve adapted to. I think it does help sales and I think it’ll continue.”
A value fashion supplier added: “I think a lot of people are now looking for shorter-term routes in their sourcing. The UK tends to be too expensive for that. Places like Turkey and Portugal are quicker, but not necessarily as cheap as the Far East or Bangladesh.”
Murphy argued that speed is only part of the equation. “Retailers need to accurately analyse what is selling in real-time and be in a position where they can react quickly,” he explained.
“According to one major fashion retailer, there is now only a 24-to-36-hour window from browsing to buying. Retailers that actively engage with their customers, analyse shopping and social media habits, and pre-empt future trends, will be the winners in the fast fashion market.”
Speed of delivery of online orders is also highly important. Accenture research highlighted that one in five 18-to-20-year-olds want same-day delivery, and a further 13% want delivery in less than half a day.
The study found that shoppers buy for the present – 53% of all consumers surveyed wear items within a week of purchase and 15% wear them that same day.
Kurt Salmon conducted interviews with 23 chief executives and senior executives at global fashion retailers, and carried out a survey of 2,000 UK consumers.