Personalisation will be key in fashion retail in 2015, predicts DHL

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Jonathan Pilbro, VP fashion at DHL Supply Chain, considers what’s in store for fashion retailers in 2015

Over the next few weeks retailers will be extremely busy dealing with the ripple effects of Christmas trading – there will be returns to process along with the start of the January sales. However, they will also be looking ahead to the New Year – especially fashion retailers who have spring/summer stock hitting their shelves before they know it.

What can we expect from retailers in the fashion industry throughout 2015?

Fashion retail by nature is a dynamic industry with a turnover of new garments on a regular basis. However the process and way that fashion retailers operate is also changing regularly and personalisation is a key trend that will be transformational for the fashion industry going forwards.

There are often only a few stages of a product’s life cycle where personalisation can be added and the supply chain has an important role in helping retailers meet these changes in demand. Flexibility in supply chain operations is required to adapt to this and to allow garments to be stored in a ‘vanilla’ state before they are customized, Earlier this year Burberry highlighted the trend by showcasing personalised ponchos at this year’s London Fashion Week with consumers able to order directly from the catwalk.

Interestingly while retailers are incorporating personalisation into operations, not all consumers are ready for this additional offering. In fact, only a fifth (22.4%) of people say that personalisation encourages them to buy more products but half (50.8%) don’t.

Personalising the in-store experience is key too. Burberry continues to push the boundaries of merging technology with the shopping experience, store using beacon technology in-store to help guide shoppers to products.

It’s really positive to see that fashion retailers and their supply chain partners are on the front-step because often it is the retailers reacting to the push of consumers desires, when changing products or operational processes.

Beyond differentiating products through personalisation next year we’ll see fashion retailers making greater efforts to differentiate their services, especially regarding the delivery of shopping. A recent Moody’s report claimed Debenhams and House of Fraser Christmas success stories of 2014. Both retailers have offered more tailored delivery services this year with Debenhams changing the cut-off time by which it accepts next day deliveries from 2pm to 10pm.

With customers having more access to information and greater transparency with tracking technology and stock checking functionality, there is a growing expectation that products will be delivered when and where they want, even if they are on the move.

Collecting shopping from several retailers at a click and collect site and having a coffee prepared ready for the journey, will be the next phase of turning a service into an experience. House of Fraser is one fashion retailer that has invested in technology in-store and its supply chain to take the next step in this evolution – earlier this year it launched a click-and-collect service at a Caffè Nero where clothes can be collected alongside a cappuccino.

Retailers that stay ahead of the curve with technology, tailored services and personalised products will certainly be the success stories next year but at DHL we’re already looking ahead and have researched what the state of retail will be in (http://www.dpdhl.com/content/dam/global_etailing_2025/pdf/dpdhl-study-global-e-tailing-2025.pdf) 2025 to support our retail partners’ evolution. Personalisation will be key for 2015, but the role and flexibility of the supply chain is crucial to help retailers evolve and stay ahead of competitors, anticipating what consumers want next.

* DHL and Drapers Multichannel Report 2014