Fashion Forecasting

How Online Fashion Retailers can use Data for Decision Making? Interview with Marivi Avalos from Fashionbi

Fashion is fickle and can change in a dime. That’s why there is always a feeling of uncertainty one has to deal with while making decisions. One wrong decision and you can get stuck with wrong merchandise or un-sold dead-stock.

Most retailers make merchandising and marketing decisions based on intuition (which is only natural in Fashion).  However, you can also use market data to validate your gut instinct so that you feel more confident about your decision making.

With correct data insights, you can predict more accurately what price points will work for your brand. With data, you can make informed merchandising decisions instead of guesses and know exactly what is a fad and what is a trend?

So, we caught up with Marivi Avalos Monarrez from Fashionbi  to learn more about how Small to Mid-size Online Fashion Retailers can use data to their advantage. She let us pick her brain about how retailers can use Fashion data to optimize  product mix, price-points, discounting and merchandising of their brand.

Netgains: Please tell us about yourself.
Marivi: My name is Marivi Avalos Monarrez and I am CMO & Managing Director for Asia at Fashionbi. I have a B.D. in International Relations and a Master Degree in Fashion and Luxury Management. I’ve been a part of the Fashionbi team since the project started almost three years ago. I started as a Fashion Brand Analyst, then I was the Manager for Marketing and recently I was appointed CMO & Managing Director for our new office in Shanghai.

Netgains: What does Fashionbi do?
Marivi: Fashionbi is a company that serves the fashion and luxury business with marketing intelligence. Our mission is to empower the people in fashion with actionable data. We help them make smart decisions in the fashion and luxury Digital Marketing in Fashion Industry; we give them the clear view to see how well (or not) their marketing strategies are paying off country by country, month by month.

We are able to do it because we have more than 3500 brands from the fashion and luxury industry in our database, and our analysts are constantly doing market research and keeping track of the brands and companies performance.

More than a database, we are a team providing knowledge about the best practices and the opportunities for marketing with a strong focus in EU, US and Asia. We provide data in the form of exclusive memberships for the directors, C-Levels and the managers.

Netgains: How can Fashion Retailers use data to make buying decisions, such as – Will it sell? Why will it sell? etc.
Marivi: There are many ways how Fashion Retailers can use data:

  • Picking the right assortment of products to sell
  • Track the fashion trends in the market and act on them
  • Know what customers want now
  • Know what customers can demand in future, for example – what will sell during up-coming holiday season?
  • Optimize product mix, price and offer at a given time period etc.
  • Apart from this, Retailers should study market share, market size and growth rate to understand who are the major players in the industry and who will be their real competitors.

We offer data insights in the form of Social Media Reports and Live track Events. For example – Fashionbi’s team of analysts monitor the performance of a brand during a specific period – let’s say fashion week or a specific campaign. We then compare among the different social networks what brand sold and what was the fans or followers reaction to the brand’s marketing campaigns to sell the product. Thanks to Fashionbi’s Key performance indicators, it is possible to understand which items from the latest collection are the most popular. It helps us to predict which products are going to be the best-sellers of the season.

Rest, we study the applicable Social Media Marketing Management channels to determine from which countries new fans are coming from. This can help the retailers create local strategies for their audience.

Netgains: How can Fashion E-commerce businesses use data to make smarter marketing decisions?
Marivi: Data insights are extremely useful I have to say. Through data insights, you can know if they are visiting your website via mobile or a desktop, their demographics etc and you got to know how much time they spent on a specific category/product/page of your store. This data helps you identify what is appealing (and what is not appealing) to them. Can it be replicated to the other pages of your store? In case you are running a multi brand store, you should know which brands cause more customers engagement on your store and across your various social media channels.

Netgains: How can Fashion Retailers & Suppliers use data to determine what pricing point works?
Marivi: Business of Fashion Retail is all about buying the right products and making sure you’re selling your products at the right price. Retailers can use data in their price position strategy. It can start at a very basic level, for example – who are your competitors and how are they pricing their products? All this data helps retailers sell what customers want, at as a price that isn’t undercut by competitors.

Netgains: Do you think data-driven decision making is always better than intuition?
Marivi: This just makes me think about the role of Fashion Buyers, especially those from Milan. Usually, they say that a person has natural skills to be a buyer, based on their sensibility for aesthetics and style trends, like you said, mainly from intuition and feeling. But the truth is that there is no black or white. Great decision making is having access to the knowledge, which is all the possible information that will help you to connect the dots. We at Fashionbi not only offer raw data but also help our clients make sense out of it by connecting the dots.

Netgains: Do you really think data can help in predicting future trends?
Marivi: I do believe that data can be used for trend forecasting, especially because of the digital media. The online and offline world is getting more and more connected day by day. We wake up checking our smartphone and we go to bed with our iPads, all our behavior is being tracked and monitored. There are already people studying the possibility to predict the Stocks Market behavior, according to a company’s presence on social media!

Netgains: That’s Fascinating! Is it possible for an Online Retailer to do data analysis for decision-making in-house?
Marivi: Yes it is. The only problem however with doing all the data crunching in-house is the effort, time and human resources required to not only gather data but also interpret what it means. If you think you have that kind of resources and time to do all the data collection & analysis in-house, it’s well worth a shot.

Netgains: What are the source of your data?
Marivi: Everything, social media, financial reports, daily news, our in-house tools, our exclusive member’s network from C-levels in the industry.

Netgains: Can data from Physical Retail be applied to E-commerce businesses for decision making?
Marivi: Absolutely. Data can help in decision making about how to link offline and online business in a smart way to make customer live the shopping experience through all the possible channels.

A good example is the case study of the US retailer Aeropostale, who launched an interactive smartphone app with a Style Guide and a barcode scanner, that focuses on in-store usage. This shoppable Style Guide and Outfit builder allow customers to browse through the items, mix and match and create their favorite look. After this, the user can share the outfit on social media, they also can ask an assistant for the exact location of the pieces and shop it right away with the integrated e-commerce platform from GSI Commerce.

Netgains: Can you share with us a case study on how a small or medium-sized retailer used your data with success?
Marivi: Fashionbi Consultancy, mainly helps companies to connect the dots, we keep track of the most purchased goods and the most “visited” goods of the e-commerce store in order to help them boost their sales. By knowing the insights of the e-commerce , we also manage the online advertising and SEO in order to generate traffic for ecommerce website development and as the result the e-commerce revenue. By determining what brands are most appreciated by the potential customers on social media, we help our clients plan specific promotional campaigns.

Netgains: Any advice for someone starting a Fashion Ecommerce business.
Marivi: If you’re a start-up, it’s better to manage e-commerce in-house to control the prices as well as coherent of assortment (if we speak about the mono-brand store). However, if you’re running a multibrand e-commerce store, it’s important that you have few unique offers for your customers that no other retailer is giving in physical or e-commerce stores.

Netgains: Well Marivi. Thanks for your time answering our questions. You have been very insightful. We hope our readers learned something about Fashion data and how they can use it to make informed business decisions.
Marivi: You are welcome!

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