Footwear brands become more consumer-focused with the right tools, talent, and skillsets
Over a dozen executives weighed in on the biggest hurdles in big-brand footwear for 2019. While some leaders focused on impending tariffs, others saw consumer behavior and expectations as their toughest course.
Blake Krueger, CEO, and President of Wolverine Worldwide, Inc., emphasized the need for consumer-centricity above other initiatives:
"While global trade policy will likely capture a lot of the headlines, the ongoing transformation of the consumer and the digital marketplace is one of the huge issues that will impact our industry. Brand owners and retailers need to continue to invest in the tools, talent, and skillsets to connect with the consumer effectively. This 'new normal' environment is spreading to the global consumer in virtually all markets, and global brands will have to be nimble and ready to take advantage of this evolution."
Digitize and Automate the Supply Chain
The footwear industry, like most in retail, is lagging behind its consumers when it comes to the digital transformation. Relentless e-commerce growth is putting increasing pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. Along with the rise of digital storefronts come heightened consumer volatility and expectations. Shopping can be done anywhere, anytime - and brands that stick with supply chain designs that produce longer delivery times will be left in the dust.
McKinsey reported in The State of Fashion 2019 that two of the top ten trends for 2019 would highlight shifts in consumer expectations:
"Now or never: In the mobile consumer journey, the gap between discovery and purchase has become a pain point for more impatient fashion consumers who seek to purchase exactly the products they want immediately (within 24 hours compared to 9-day delivery expectations in 1995). Players will focus on bridging the gap through shorter lead times, improved availability of advertised products, and new technologies such as visual search."
"In response, wise companies are self-disrupting before upstarts do it for them, engaging in a digital land grab to diversify their ecosystem, and using automation and data analytics to produce on demand to reduce waste and react rapidly to trends."
Products need to be innovatively designed, affordably priced, and made with high-quality materials (that were ethically sourced) - all delivered at the speed of now. Undergoing a parallel digital transformation is the only path to survival for supply chains in these conditions.
Tools, Talent, Skillsets
Otherwise known as the "people, process, technology" trifecta, this combination is needed to move billion-dollar organizations toward innovative change. In a global digital transformation initiative, brands need to center all three of these machines on the same target: the consumer.
With a cloud-native supply chain platform like Vanguard Predictive Planning, most of the supply chain planning process can be automated, making it a key software component for the journey. Leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced analytics, and support for omnichannel, supply chain planning processes is transformed overnight. Improvements to service levels, costs, agility, inventory levels, and processes result in operational excellence. Supply chain digitization and automation allows global brands the luxury of reconfiguring their business on the fly to meet rising consumer demands and survive in the digital landscape.