Here is an interesting article from Loose Threads that talks about the profound impact that data and fast fashion are having on apparel brands, transforming them from supply-driven businesses to demand-driven ones. It adds a bit more nuance to the trope that tech is disrupting retail simply because people are choosing to buy online.
The argument, here, is about a more fundamental shift in commerce. Brands are now forced to move faster than ever before. Product lead times are dropping (see below via LT). Customer feedback loops are almost instantaneous because of social. And the result is that customers are now the driver: Figure out what people want right now and then create that supply as quickly as possible.
Fast fashion certainly isn’t a new concept, but the data, algorithms and demand planning systems are only becoming more robust. Merchandise buying – historically the work intuitionists trying to predict what customers will want seasons into the future – is now an automated process that optimizes itself following every click, abandoned shopping cart, and social media like.