This week we speak to Stacey Dorrian, a Head of Merchandising with nearly 20 years of experience about the challenges facing modern retailers.
Hi Stacey! Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I am a Head of Merchandising with nearly 20 years of experience in the Fashion Retail sector. I started my career in 2000 as an Allocator for women’s high street chain, Wallis, and I have since worked my way up the merchandising structure, across various retailers, including Dune Footwear and, most recently, Coast.
What are the current challenges in the market that retailers face?
The advances in technology and newer more agile businesses that have been able to harness that technology quickly have led to some disruption in the retail sphere.
The customer has been given new freedoms to explore different ways to shop and has now become used to greater levels of convenience than they ever had before. Customers want to be able to shop across multiple platforms, on multiple devices, on the go or in the comfort of their own homes.
For the customer, convenience is a bigger driver than brand loyalty and that means visibility is key. The challenge for the retailer is to be as visible to the customer and on as many channels as possible to ensure the sale.
Why is a PIM solution essential for fashion retailing? What challenges does it resolve?
A PIM solution is essential for retailers that want to expand the number of channels they are present on due to the need for “speed to market”.
Every channel has its own set of requirements and it can be quite time consuming and labour intensive for a retailer to adapt their product data to meet these requirements. The tasks can be quite uninspiring for junior members of the team and costly mistakes can be made. Brands may even have to think about hiring extra administration staff in order to facilitate the process, which can be expensive.
With a PIM, this process is sped up by having one point of data entry, with the system then translating the data to whatever the specific channel attributes require. After the digital ‘gatekeeper’ provides sign off, the PIM automatically distributes the retailer’s product information, meaning that products can be visible and shoppable to the customer much quicker.
What are the major value-adding benefits that a PIM solution can deliver?
A PIM solution not only facilitates quicker speed to market, access to more customers and increased full-price sell-through by opening up the stock inventory file to more channels, but it also provides a reduction in costly administrative mistakes. A PIM solution also increases the ability of all teams that handle product data to concentrate on other ways to add value to the business, rather than being busy with administration.
Describe modern retail in 5 words!
I’d have to say challenging, fast-paced, experience-focused, reactive and (increasingly) innovative!