The benefits of managing a wholesale order book throughout the season

The preparation of a sales campaign in the fashion world is truly gruesome, across all departments of a maison.

Previously we expected our creative designers to come up with new collections every six months, nowadays the cycles have shortened with pre-collections, cruise collections, designer collaborations and special productions challenging the creative and merchandising teams to ever shorter cycles.

This challenges all departments, the sales departments need to prepare their wholesale clients, workbooks need to be prepared, shootings have to take place, the supply chain needs to coordinate orders with the suppliers, the retail departments need to provide their orders ever more frequently.

The end of the sales campaign is the start of the sales campaign. This can quickly lead to the focus shifting onto the next sell-in phase. However, to maximise sales, management of the pre-order book during the course of the season also needs a lot of focus.

During the season, owned retail inventories need to be moved from where they are moving slowly to where they are flying from the shelves. Many wholesale customers have return conditions, so ensuring adequate knowledge of their sell-out patterns (especially those online) ensures that re-orders can be maximised, while planning for returns and moving stock into distressed channels appropriately in season.

It helps when you have transparent information systems that can make the various events happening during the season visible. That includes your own inventory systems and cash registers in your own stores, but also means good and regular sell-out information from your wholesale partners. Automated re-order systems can help.

At one of VF’s brands a system was developed using approximately 5 million data points, showing re-orders, order cancellations and returns by salesperson, geography, customer and gender, comparing these to a number of previous seasons and tracking these monthly. The person that could act on this information had it at their fingertips. For most cases these are the sales team, however, if goods could not be delivered because they were lost in transit or never produced for example, that clearly points to the operations teams. Order codes were therefore developed clearly identifying reasons for failures, therefore providing the base-line for their improvement. It created internal competition to improve the final delivery rate as a percentage of the sell-in order book.

If you are selling in with double digit growth, and your final delivery rate selling out is above 100%, that looks good in anyone’s books and is certainly maximising your P&L.

Feel free to contact us for further information.