2022 has posed its fair share of challenges (constraints in the supply chain, weakened consumer confidence, high profile designer exits, and an impending recession set to last for at least a year).
However, the upside to this constant stream of challenges, which come hot on the heels of a global pandemic no less, is that fashion brands have gained new-found coping skills, agility, and resilience that will help them to face whatever the market chooses to throw at them next.
Indeed, while it might be expected that brands would be in a gloomy mood, many are finding cause to be optimistic, particularly among NuORDER by Lightspeed’s growing network of more than 3,000 brands.
We asked some of Europe’s most innovative wholesale players to share the key market trends they will be working on to stay ahead of the B2B landscape in the coming 12 months and which strategies they will be implementing in order to do so. Their list includes reminders for brands to remain vigilant, attentive, and focused on their retailers. With the right pivots, many brands see a great deal of potential for growth in the upcoming year.
Here are four key suggestions from leading brands for staying ahead in 2023:
1. Focus on product
Post-pandemic the importance of great product, and the right product, has never been more important. Notable brands are showing growth in key markets, in particular casualwear and athleisure, which speak to new consumer lifestyles.
A deep understanding of the customer and their needs will help brands double down on the products that are essential and remove the excess inventory that brands have struggled with over the past year.
“As always, to be successful, you have to offer the right product and provide great service at the right time and take into account the long-term changes in how people are now working, the things they are doing, and of course, what they’ll want to wear while doing it,” explains Chris Gumbs, Sales Director at British menswear brand Drake’s.
“Everything begins and ends with the customer”’ Gumbs notes, “and as long as you can create a community with your customer base, you will find a way to win”.
2. Stronger relationship with retail partners
Despite recent challenges, many brands say they saw positive growth not just from direct retail channels but also through their wholesale partners. Building stronger, more mutually beneficial relationships with retail partners is more important than ever. “Now is the time for brands to take care of their dealers, support them in sell-through, and provide them with the best products and marketing support,” believes Erika Lovisotta Vismara, Senior Director of Sales at Swiss performance cycling brand Assos.
Casper Bech Olsen, Head of Sales and Marketing at Danish Fashion House Minimum was one of the many who agrees. “During COVID-19, we proved that we, despite a lot of challenges and uncertainty, were able to find a foothold and make the best out of the situation for our wholesale partners. The coming period calls for the same measures including being even closer to partners with an open and honest communication, which will remain our number one priority,” he says.
3. Mitigating supply chain issues
Getting product to market on time and staying ahead of supply chain issues to prevent bottlenecks is, unsurprisingly, front of mind for most brands. With the right business practices, however, most brands we talked to now feel better positioned to mitigate supply chain constraints as we enter the New Year.
Furthermore, rethinking how much product to make, where to make it, and focusing on mindfully merchandising better products through timely and tailored promotions bespoke to your buyers, plays into another key trend that is top of the agenda, sustainability.
“I think the current disruption in the supply chain also needs to be a chance to rethink collection merchandising in a healthier, more sustainable way. It’s essential to be extremely focused, to have a clear vision, to make less, but better, and try to avoid dispersion. It was a path we were already on, driven by our efforts toward a more sustainable business model, but the current situation certainly forces us to pick up the pace in that sense,” explained Luigi Fila, Head of Design at Italian fashion manufacturer and wholesaler Altea.
4. Data & technology forge a better path
B2B tech solutions designed to aid brands in strategy and efficiency have shown a surge in adoption since the pandemic. Industry leaders acknowledge that addressing challenges with the right technology head-on is going to be critical to their future success, with a recent Avionos report showing a shocking 85% of buyers would turn to a competitor if their existing supplier’s digital channel couldn’t support their needs.
“To help us in that process, we are investing in tools that allow us to be both faster in the way we collect orders, and to collect better data, so that we can have quality insights informing product decisions,” Luigi Fila of Altea adds.
Reliable data and integrated solutions will prove to be a competitive advantage in 2023. Brands who can arm themselves and their retail partners with the time-saving technology benefit from being able to: quickly identify and move excess inventory, offer customised promotions and incentives, automate hundreds of manual tasks, offer products in new currencies and regions, and empower self-service buying and order management 24/7/365.
As a globally renowned platform, NuORDER by Lightspeed is well-positioned to provide brands and retailers with all the tools they need to buy, sell and collaborate both in-person and online, including the ability to merchandise mindfully. The service is trusted by more than 3,000 brands and 500,000 retailers and to date, some £33 billion of orders have been processed through the platform.
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