Opportunity to Maximize Margins in the Fluid World of Fashion Retail
These risks and absence of a crystal ball when making pre-season buying and pricing decisions, have made Markdown Optimization a critical part of in-season management and a way of maximizing the profits.
What is markdown optimization?
Markdown optimization is the application of optimizing of reduction in the selling price by recommending best timing and depth of markdowns taking into account each product’s shelf-life, stock levels, current pricing, lifecycle and seasonality trends for the purpose of decreasing the excess inventory.
The very first goal of markdown optimization in retail is to clear excess and unused inventory. Retailers apply markdown optimization methods to have an optimal inventory in line with consumer demand. Fluctuating product lifecycles, seasonal demand, various assortments, varieties of the customer base, new stores, price competition and any other factors that may change after the initial decision-making point are made the need of markdown optimization much more crucial.
A successfully implemented markdown optimization generates significant additional values to your business like an increase in revenues, fattened margins, better sales conversions, and optimal inventory. However, many retailers face difficulties in the phase of implementation because of the difficulties in determining the markdown levels, timing and selecting the right products for markdown.
While some retailers treat markdown as an in-season liquidation tactic and as an opportunity to course-correct with new information, some others have embraced markdowns as a strategic way of attracting a different type of customer, ‘the bargain shopper’, who normally does not shop at regular ticket prices. Whether they are being used to attract a different customer segment, or just as a tactic to clear the older merchandise to make room for the next season, one of the biggest in-season decisions retailers face that has a direct impact on the bottom line is how and when to execute markdowns. Taking an analytical and systematic approach to answer the following questions has been proven to have direct impact on a retailer’s gross margin:
- Which styles should be marked down?
- What is the right depth of markdown to achieve the best lifetime profitability?
- What is the right frequency of the progressive markdowns?
- Is there a benefit to starting the markdown some styles early in the season?
- Do all locations need the same level of markdown at a given time, is there benefit in localizing markdown decisions?
Rule-based vs Optimized Markdown Pricing
There are different ways a retailer can approach markdown management; some have adopted rules-based methodologies including:
Fixed pricing across all sales locations: There is also the question of whether all locations should execute the same markdown prices for a given product. Single markdown pricing across all locations makes the execution and the messaging much simpler. Keeping the markdown prices across the whole chain is easier to manage and communicate to the customer and keeps pricing consistent across different sales channels. However, in markets where there are differences between shoppers in different locations in terms of style preferences, response to pricing and different competitive factors, there might be a need to tailor pricing strategies by store groups or clusters.
More than fifteen years of using markdown optimization technology has proven that the more granular and analytical approaches to markdown pricing across styles and locations results in an improvement of least 200 basis points of gross margin.
A More Analytical Approach to Markdown Optimization:
Retailers who have tried different approaches to markdowns now agree that to maximize gross margins, markdown pricing tools need to take maximum advantage of big data analytics, and real time POS and inventory data. Markdown tools also need to be flexible, scalable, easy to configure for different levels of granularity and facilitate easy decision-making at all levels of the organization.
For a retailer looking to transform its end of the season markdown planning from a simple rule based approach to an analytic optimization driven approach that maximizes gross margin must look for a solution that:
- Increases precision of decision making, by style and channel or store group
- Enables real time what-if analysis with insight into second level financial impacts
- Facilitates faster decision making at all levels of the organization
- Allows for seamless execution of markdown pricing decisions
- Monitors results and tracks effectiveness and other KPIs
- Ensures consistent approach to markdown decisions across a group of planners
Solvoyo’s Markdown Optimization solution built on an advanced retail supply chain analytics platform delivers all the necessary solution criteria with an easy to use interface and workflow that delivers measurable financial results and productivity gains.
Solvoyo understands the challenges and different aspects of in-season decision making in apparel retail and offers a suite of products to support merchants and planners in making the most profitable decisions.
Solvoyo’s Markdown Optimization solution is a user-friendly, fast and straight-forward way to:
- Maximize lifetime profitability of each style
- Increase inventory turns of the merchandise
- Sell through collections by a target date to make room for fresh merchandise
- Compare different markdown scenarios in terms of financial impact
How Solvoyo Can Help
Advanced forecasting methodology leverages attribute-based life cycles in the beginning of the selling period and combines with in-season performance of individual styles
One of the challenges of the apparel retail is that many of the new fashion products and styles do not have historical data from prior years. Solvoyo’s attribute-based forecasting works with merchandise hierarchy and style attributes to forecast sales based on lifecycle curves from a group of similar styles and updates the forecasts in season based on a style’s own selling history.
User-friendly and versatile what-if analysis enables retailers to evaluate different scenarios real time and facilitate fast-decision making
With Solvoyo Markdown Optimization users can evaluate different pricing scenarios such as optimizing sell-through by exit date, or optimizing lifetime gross margin and choose the scenario that fits company’s strategy for that week. Users can also evaluate the impact of overriding markdown recommendations, changing the exit dates of the styles and review the financial metrics with ease from style level up to total company level to help make informed decisions.
Easy to expand to new locations and markets and update business rules as businesses grow and face new challenges
As the business needs evolve and change over time, new markets could be added, and pricing rules (such as price points or minimum discount levels) can be introduced, and the company may have some business rules to make execution of markdowns easier for the store operations teams for different regions or groups of stores.
Cloud-based Software-as-as-Service solution is flexible, easy to deploy and minimizes upfront investment
Solvoyo’s cloud-based Markdown Optimization solution is accessed on the web and does not require upfront investment in hardware or software installations, doesn’t require lifetime investment in in-house resources to maintain and upgrade.
Solvoyo is the next generation supply chain planning and optimization platform built for the digital revolution in the supply chain world. Solvoyo helps companies close the gap between planning and execution. Our all-in-one platform forecasts demand, optimizes inventory, plans production, replenishes networks, fulfills orders, and concurrently optimizes transportation plans. Solvoyo is currently the only planning platform that allows companies to plan their strategic, tactical and operational level supply chain actions in one tool. The scalability, analytical capabilities and quick implementation cycles of our true cloud based platform help our clients quickly achieve dramatic improvements in supply chain performance. We are headquartered in Boston, MA with our R&D center in Istanbul, Turkey. For more information, please visit www.solvoyo.com