19 May 2022

Sustainability and the off-price channel PT. 2

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OFFPRICE dives deep into sustainability issues surrounding the fashion industry and offers a solution as a marketplace for excess inventory. This three-part series looks at sustainability from the simple perspectives that are starting to take root today in our modern fashion ecosystem. This conversation between OFFPRICE Global Retail Business Manager, Audrey Taylor and Retail Strategy Group CEO, Liza Amlani took place on Earth day 2022.

"I think that adds a lot of value for mid-size retailers, people who don't necessarily have the bandwidth to invest in product development, but these are great partners who are experts in that product development and focus on streamlining the process". 

Part two explores off-price opportunities, the benefits of extending the product lifecycle, and what types of products you can find at our show. 

I think off-price is a huge opportunity for any brand or retailer to get a taste of a new market, or a new international market that is looking for these price points and might not be able to purchase brands through traditional channels. 

I think you bring up such a great point because they could use off-price markets as a test market, not only to understand what customers are looking for in that space, but how price sensitive they are. I think pricing is something that we're really starting to hear more about, especially as we hear what's happening in the subscription space. 

Like what's happening with Peloton in the fitness space, where they're raising their prices. I spoke to Bloomberg about that, and there was a big challenge that the entire industry is facing across verticals and categories. As we raise prices, inflation goes up, gas is going up, there's a war that's impacting all parts of the supply chain, and then of course we're not out of the pandemic. So, if we're increasing those prices, customers are going to stop buying, and that's the end of that. So how do we learn from different markets, different demographics, and of course a channel like OFFPRICE? I think there’s a lot of insight you can capture to discover the price that is most attractive for that customer in that region.  

Absolutely and then the bonus of all that is you're keeping your product from the landfills, or from the bottom of the ocean. As we've talked about, you're extending the product life cycle, and that is a big value of ours at the OFFPRICE show. Extending the life cycle of the product makes sense because it's still quality product that consumers can use, and it doesn't have to go to waste.

That's just it! We want to do what's best for the environment, which is to buy less, we want to make less, but until we get to that point where we're changing the way we go to market in full price, that excess is always going to be there. 

It is a work in progress, a lot of brands are rethinking the way they go to market, the way they are using data and analytics to plan better, but in the meantime, I’d say that we're going to live with excess for years. The fast fashion industry, look at what's happening with Shein and Boohoo. We talk about that extensively, on the impact to the environment, our water, our carbon footprint, the human race, and it's sad. So, we're getting a lot of government publications, government leadership across countries, people are listening, and I think now that we have to hold retailers accountable, they are going to start shifting their ways. 

Another thing that we discovered at OFFPRICE when we were there, was that there was a lot of in-season product, and that really speaks to the shifts in customer behavior. They have so many more options than they've ever had before. So how do you get access to product if you're planning a year ahead? Product that is working in season for most retailers, but you don't have access to it because you don't have the time to spend a year developing product. In season planning is such a critical factor in the customer journey, we need to change the way we plan product, where we're not planning a year ahead. We should leave a lot more room in our open to buys as merchants and planners to buy in season, and that was one thing I saw an abundance of at OFFPRICE, which made me super happy.

That has become a huge part of our show, in addition to the brand name closeouts and aftermarket secondary market goods. The private label and current in-season lines have become a big part, and I think the value that these brands and apparel lines have is they've cut out a lot of the fluff. They don't spend a lot of money on marketing their brand and D2C and going online with fancy showrooms. All that they're focusing on getting the product to the consumer quickly and it's a more streamlined approach. I think that adds a lot of value for mid-size retailers, people who don't necessarily have the bandwidth to invest in product development, but these are great partners who are experts in that product development and focus on streamlining the process.

I have to say that was the part that was most delightful for me because what we learned as retailers during the pandemic, I mean not that we're out of it, but the last two years at least, was that it was very difficult to get product. Product was so far away, and it was stuck at ports, and it was stuck on ships, or in the Suez Canal, or wherever it was, it was stuck so you couldn't get at it. But if you have vendors that have inventory today and you've sold out of your core denim, and you need to replace that right I would say that most retailers would jump at that if they knew it existed. 

Stay tuned for part 3 of the conversation next week, where Audrey and Liza discuss wholesale luxury, gen z spending habits, and how an off-price strategy could be part of every retailers business model.

This three part series is part of a webinar recorded on Earth Day 2022. Watch the full interview here


Audrey Taylor is the Global Retail Business Manager at OFFPRICE, serving as a resource for retail buyers looking to make valuable connections with wholesale partners. Audrey joined the OFFPRICE team in 2019 bringing 8+ years of experience in the retail and wholesale apparel industry.

Liza Amlani is the CEO of Retail Strategy Group, a consulting practice which helps companies in the retail space dramatically improve profitability. She is a respected voice on topics such as responsible retail and sustainability, retail diversity and inclusion, the future of retail and the urgency of technology enablement in merchandising, assortment optimization and demand planning. She has 21 years of experience in the retail industry. 

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