|A saturated industry that is today boasting of about US $ 5,77,415 million in revenue with about 3,401 million expected consumers by 2023, retailers and brands today need to elevate their game as per the changing consumer demands. The key lies in the conversion of the ongoing and upcoming trends into real time product offerings and this is where the gradually popularising concept of opportunity buying comes in. The Apparel Sourcing Week 2020 forum will debate on this buying strategy that is already abuzz in the retail industry, decoding its benefits and viabilities for different industry stakeholders.
|Opportunity buying literally translates to buying as the opportunity presents itself, that is, tapping a trend in the market, that has suddenly gained traction, by a retailer who thinks that the product, style or trend is viable enough to be incorporated in the current production cycle. The biggest instance of the retail trend is the sudden explosion of animal prints right from high fashion and street brands to value retailers as well.
|Industry expert Vipul Mathur decodes five ways opportunity buying can be practised, as he states, “From a merchandising point of view, it is very advantageous. First is trapping the trend at the right time, and interpreting it as per the brand. The second method comes from projecting the demand to the customer, by pairing complementary items with the main offering while another way revolves around the ‘wardrobe fillers’, the garments that the wearer wants rather than needs. These trends revolve around a product category that suddenly gains traction.”
|He further elucidates upon the subscription and conditional needs, “Another facet is the subscription models, where extensive data analytics tools give an insight about the shopping pattern of the wearer. Finally, I think variable sizes also create a sudden demand in the market, where small details such as cropped hems for shorter men, wide collars for longer necks, etc., come into play.”
|Wicrant Gambhir, Head Apparel Sourcing, Page Industries Ltd. – Jockey India shares similar perception, “Opportunity buying can be anything - sourcing merchandise to meet any sudden market demand, converting stock lot fabric into merchandise to act as fillers, et al. Such styles are always part of the collection and add value in a short term. After a couple of season drops, such initiatives become part of the programmed buy.”
|Tapping the hot trends into current cycles
|Abdon Lepcha, FILA’s Creative Director, believes that a new inspiration or trend can present itself through multifarious ways, citing FILA TECH Sandals, to be rolled out in October, as an instance. “Having seen the success of FILA Disruptor Sneakers, we took inspiration for the sole using the saw-tooth pattern for the new sandals,” shares Lepcha. The process of inclusion of the product in their product cycles was crucial, as Lepcha avers, “We needed a quick turnaround of the product to hit the market quickly, but without compromising on quality and technology. The product development team took the challenge and came up with fascinating sandals just in time.”
|E-commerce is a format that enjoys flexible inventory, as the new trends can be tested for viability in the long run through a diverse network of data analytics tools. Ajio is already tapping the strategy, as Divya Joshi, Design Manager of Women’s westernwear for Ajio shares, “We have a shorter lead time cycle, which brings in new trends every month, and being online, we can be a step ahead in tapping them. We sell these products under the label ‘AJIO GOLD’, and the consumer response to these products is extremely positive.”
|What manufacturers say
|These trends can only be translated through the synergy between the manufacturer and the retailer. As Aahan Bhasin, Director, JG Brands states, “Overall, it will be a challenge for the manufacturer, but if the buyer and the producer are on the same page to understand the viability of the new order and the relations are good, it will be a challenge we can tackle.”
|Kiran Kumar, GM/IE, Wear Well India Pvt. Ltd. shares, “We have a few subcontractors and jobworkers for such orders. Timelines are definitely difficult but achievable. The major issue is compliance, because the industry is against piece jobs now, as they want to ensure best practices. The understanding between us and the buyers matters the most.”
|The strategy has massive potential for the Indian market, as Abdon concludes, “India is strong in production, the question is how flexible you are as a brand. One has to be constantly ‘in-trend’ and be able to adapt, change and create.” This summarises India’s advantage of being both a manufacturing and a retail hub.
Apparel Sourcing Week 2023, a two-days Sourcing Show not only provides the Asian manufacturers a platform to showcase their products & manufacturing capabilities to the Brands & Retailers from all over the world including India, but also extends them a chance to attend the multiple seminars (headed by industry experts), workshops, open-house discussions and networking opportunities organised during these three days, which would help the manufacturers get a better understanding of Indian and International Retail and evolving dynamics of sourcing in various markets and retail formats.
Apparel Resources is well known for its benchmark publications – Apparel Online, StitchWorld and Resource Guide published from India, Bangladesh & Vietnam. These publications have been around in the industry for over 35 years, supporting, guiding and standing by garment exporters and the retail industry globally, providing them a platform to source better.