19 Nov Coach joins Burberry and Gucci in dropping fur products
Coach has recently announced that the company will no longer be selling fur products for ethical reasons. The decision came after similar announcements from other fashion retail competitors such as Gucci, DKNY, Versace, Burberry and Columbia Sportswear.
The decision to drop fur, or any other category/sub-category of product, isn’t an easy one for retailers, especially those in high-end fashion retailing. It means asking a lot of questions to understand what would happen and what the implications could mean for the business. Questions that involve the kind of data that people can’t process without the right tools and solutions.
Generally speaking, we know that there are two main routes dropping fur could go for a fashion retailer:
1) Customers go elsewhere for fur (and more)
Coach’s chief executive Joshua Schulman has said, “We’re doing it because we believe it’s the right thing to do.” Many customers will agree with Mr. Schulman, but not all, and that leads to the question, how much will dropping fur really cost across the entire chain vs. the expected benefit?
Coach won’t only be losing the revenue from fur sales but also revenue from potential cross-selling opportunities, such as gloves that match a fur-lined coat. In order to truly understand the cost of lost sales, and just how many customers they will be losing, Coach needs to understand the shopping habits and preferences of fur-buyers, and also identify what products are being offered by competitors that could steal your customers.
2) Customers stand by Coach’s decision
If Nike’s campaign with Colin Kaepernick has taught us one business lesson, it’s that calculated risks can pay off. Nike knew that their record-breaking campaign would turn off some buyers, but chose to move forward with it nonetheless, and the company’s shares hit an all-time high.
Assuming Coach’s customers do rally behind the retailer’s decision to ban fur, the company still has a lot of questions it will need to answer in order to be prepared:
- How will demand shift?
- Will removing all products with fur create holes in their product assortment?
- What products being dropped already have substitutes being stocked?
- What products might also see an uplift?
- Are the right products in stock at the right locations/channels to support the shift in demand?
- Are the current pricing and markdown strategies still the optimal ones based on the new forecast?
But how can retail Predictive Analytics measure the cost and opportunity of no longer selling fur, before they make the decision?
Predictive Analytics looks at data from across your business and can both answer questions and proactively offer solutions. A proper Predictive Analytics engine looks not only at past sales history, but at dozens of other influencing factors, to build one highly-accurate forecast. The forecast is also dynamic, meaning it self-learns and self-adjusts to reflect changes in your business.
A retail Predictive Analytics engine measures lost sales by looking at what true demand was, and comparing that to what was available, and what sold. Moreover, the system can even understand affinity between products and measure how the loss of one fur product could impact the sales of other non-fur products. In this way, it can measure the total cost of lost sales from dropping fur.
And how can retailers determine and account for the shifts in demand that follow?
Leveraging a highly-accurate forecast, a retail Predictive Analytics engine can identify the holes in your retail assortment left by no longer carrying fur. The system can highlight strong performing products or categories and proactively suggest how to widen merchandise assortment to fill the gap and maximize profitability.
A retail Predictive Analytics engine also has solutions allowing retailers to further adjust in-season with inventory optimization solutions such as Replenishment, and Inter-Store Balancing. The system can even proactively help retailers rebalance inventory to get it aligned with demand.
So, is discontinuing the sale of fur the right move?
Will discontinuing the sale of fur products bring in new customers and strengthen brand loyalty with existing customers? Brands like Gucci, Burberry, and Coach are betting on it.
Whether you’re trying to decide if you should keep fur, or any other product or sub-category in your business, start by asking your Predictive Analytics platform. Don’t have one? Start by reaching out to us for a personalized demo and talk to us at the NRF.
Contributed by Adrian Silipo. Adrian is the Marketing Manager at Retalon, an award-winning provider of retail Predictive Analytics solutions for planning, inventory management, merchandising, pricing, and promotions. Retalon’s solutions are built one unified platform to account for all factors influencing your business. Learn more at retalon.com.