If Well Planned is Half Done, then how can the other half be easily managed. I believe that making a good "Option Plan" which is data driven considering all the nuances such as growth in categories, like to like business, stores etc., is a prerequisite to ensure profitable growth for a fashion retailer. Many successful brands and retailers have emphasised on churning data and coming up with a very detailed Option Plan that becomes a prerequisite input for the designers to deliver sufficient number of relevant options to chose from.
Typically, an option plan has numbers across these typical pivots;
- Customer Perspective : by Brand, by MRP Range, by Color, by Fit, etc.,
- Brand Perspective : by Sub Brand, by Category, by Sub-Cateogry, by Product, etc., etc.,
- Attribute Perspective : by Product Type, by Fabric, by Fit, by Colour, etc, etc.,
- And etc., etc.,
By the time the above Option Plan (which is again a very iterative one) reaches the Designers and Product Team; almost half of the Design Ideation would have already happened. The styles would have come onto the Adobe Screens and the Product and Sourcing Team would have started to collate the Raw-Materials and may be also the BOM information. Product Teams and Sourcing Teams burn the mid-night oil to get and collate all the Product related information of the design options and in many cases, the following scenarios are very common during the Season Development;
For Buyers :
- Very few or too many designs in one specific bucket of the option plan
- Target Costs not fitting into specific Option Plan bucket
- Can’t afford to adopt few designs as they won’t be sellable in the new MRP buckets
- Time Constraints : Tough trade-off between Number of options to chose vs. Number of options that would be sellable.
For Designers :
- No visibility of what Designs are getting developed vs. What is required for buyers
- No tools that can proactively keep track of number of designs that are getting developed
- No tools that can show “Tentative Costs” of designs that are getting developed
- No tools that can proactively suggest the “Actual Costs” and hence which bucket the design in progress can fit better into
For Sourcing :
- Variance b/w Actual and Target Costs.
- No or limited ability to get consolidated views of Fabrics and trims used across various products, brands and categories
- Time constraints to consolidate data post trade show / road show to place orders
For Merchants / Product Team :
- Strenuous, laborious and extremely monotonous process of BOM compilations
Irrespective of teams :
- Working on Weekends
- Working Late Nights
- Stress and most importantly
- Work – Life imbalance
It will be interesting to see if any tools other than Excel sheets and Mails can help Fashion Brands and Retailers.