• Judy Kim

Data is the key to driving successful product selling.

Brands, you are missing out on sales growth opportunities if you are not properly analyzing your data.

To shed light on this important business process is our very own retail analyst Jennifer Mcalister on this interview.


Judy:

Hi everyone. This is Judy founder Hada. Welcome to our fashion educational series. Today we have a really, special guest, joining us. Jennifer who is also a new member of the team. Now that we're an agency and we're offering various business services. Jennifer will talk about the importance of retail analytics for fashion business. Jennifer and I have a very special history together working in retail. Jennifer, welcome. Great to have you on the team and sharing your insights with our audience in this conversation. To start, we'd love to hear about your story working in the fashion industry. Can you share with us your background?


Jennifer M:

Sure.I went to NYU and after I graduated I went straight into the training program at Lord and Taylor and I was a buyer for Lord and Taylor for five years. Then I moved over to Macy's and was a buyer for Macy's. I really wanted to learn product development. So from there I went to Armani exchange, which is a truly vertical, product development process, which includes the merchandisers, do everything from sourcing the product to placing the units to doing the line plans and working with design and the whole to delivering the product and marking it down, which is really where I learned to understand the product life cycle. From there I went to a startup using the same philosophy to get them off the ground. And then I held, the role of merchandising director for Kenneth Cole doing the same thing, bringing their production in house. And my last role it before I started working with Judy and do running my own business, was it International Concepts for Macy's where we both worked or, I was there for 10 years and I partnered with design there to give the strategic direction on building the brand and class planning and so forth.


Judy:

Well, well that is a long list of experiences right there. And it seems like, you dabbled into and had various types of experiences not just in and merchandising or planning, but also in actual the development process, which is quite unique. Most people have their own specialty that they work on in their career and that's usually it. But it seems like you have a more of a diverse background.


Jennifer M:

Yeah, I definitely understand everybody's role. That's what I think my strength is and why I started my own business and started this partnership with you because what I think as we see retail changing, I think the one pain point that always exists is the people who are developing the products don't necessarily have the information they need to make the right decisions. And that's what I'm trying to bring to the market, especially with so many entrepreneurs going into the business. And also with traditional manufacturers, they don't make the most of the data that's available to them. So I'm trying to educate the product development process so that it's more efficient and more profitable.


Judy:

I think that's a really important point to make. Especially, in this fast changing times, a lot of technologies available, analyzing data, it becomes a critical part and it shouldn't really take after the fact. But then as you're going through the process. So the lead question for you is why is analyzing your sales data critical to a consumer brand?


Jennifer M:

I think that if you look at the brands that are working today, someone like Everlane who's really at the top of the list or Supreme or Free people, everybody who's succeeding there, brands that are true to themselves, they are not, chasing the latest shiny penny.


Jennifer M:

You can tell that they look at their own business to develop their own brand identity. And that is how they build a loyal customer base. I think retail's started to struggle when people use data to look at what other people were doing, which led to everybody sort of looking the same or trends becoming overwhelming. Um, whereas what was one good idea on an Instagram page is not meant to necessarily close the rest of the world. So I think it's absolutely critical for brands to get back to doing what they do best and giving their customers what their customers are asking them for. You can't be all things to all people. You have to develop your customer base based on your own success.


Judy:

I think that's an amazing point right there. Everybody wants to be the next big thing and follow other people's success, but your brand is unique to you and you have to listen to your customers.


Jennifer M:

And I think to your point, the data is gonna provide that information on what the customer is reacting to.


Jennifer M:

Yeah. I mean Everlane is one of the fastest growing companies and you can actually see them doing it. They actually say it. You know, we're bringing back last year's best selling tote with these improvements. Um, and their customers want to see the new versions of what they loved last year. They want to get, you know, the updated of something that they really love. And and again, those are the brands that are winning the ones that are doing the best.


Judy:

Yeah. that's a really important point and we need to understand how to do that.

So like, so how do you do that? Like what is the, the secret to getting the right type of data and properly applying it to your business model? I think the right data is readily available for small businesses or big businesses.


Jennifer M:

I work with some independent retailers, you know, one or two stores and I used their square up data. It should be simple. It doesn't need to be complicated. You just need the selling information. But what I think you really need is somebody with the ability to look at it critically and pull out what you need to know and get rid of the noise and make it understandable for people. Because in most cases, especially in smaller companies, the data's not being used because you don't have the resources to use it. so that's, that's critical. I mean, as I said, data is available pretty much for everyone. If you're registering your sales then then there's data available and the more powerful it is the more attributes are how rich it is, you know, the color information, the fabric information, trim information, and the more you can build that into your selling data, the more robust the results will be.


Judy:

Yeah, all your points are really great. And for the audience specifically for the start-ups, entrepreneurs, how would they be able to work with you to maximize the data that they can get access to?


Jennifer M:

It's really pretty simple. I mean, because it's so standardized now really people, all they have to do is give me access to it. They don't have to, you know, just give me a log on or, or something and I will figure it out from there and come back to them with, a very understandable report of what they may be, didn't think about.


Judy:

Yeah. So you will be able to find details or specific angles that, you know, most average person wouldn't be able to come up with.


Jennifer M:

Correct. Yeah, I think that I can do the work and then working with the team to really look at the product will yield a better understanding.


Jennifer M:

I mean there are definitely elements in each business of why things sell and why things don't, and to identify what those are and find the opportunities in the white space for the seasons to come is, in my experience. And I think when you and I worked at INC, we definitely use this process to grow that business to be one of the biggest ready to wear brands, in the country.


Judy:

We definitely have some proven success right there and that is the secret sauce that we have this proven success formula and we really want to help the new emerging brands to get into the right process early on so that they're really focused on growth in the right way.


Jennifer M:

I think one of the biggest pitfalls that whether big or small is developing products that ultimately goes nowhere.


Jennifer M:

I feel like at the beginning you want to be as knowledgeable and is and is right as you can be. You don't want to go to the customer, whether your customer is a retailer or ultimately the consumer and them not want what you made because that's expensive and it's inefficient. So the more you know, up front, to be better prepared to sell your products and to know why you made what you made, um, i is we'll be more efficient in the end.


Judy:

Yeah, that's really great advice and really amazing insight. You know, coming from industry experts like yourself who's gone through many different scenarios of growth and scale and, and having, successful examples. I think this is a great opportunity for some of those, emerging brands and startups to take opportunity in, learning more about how to apply these processes in their business models.


Jennifer M:

Yes. Like if I think back to INC denim, which we launched from zero and it took us about five years to grow it to $50 million. Every process you learn from, you know, what fabrics are best, what body shapes are our best, what likes or best, you know, when does cropped denim peak? Then shorts begin. All of those things are things that you, you're going to learn from data and if you don't have the resources to articulate it properly, you're going to miss opportunities.


Judy:

Yeah, that's it. I mean, this is really, really important to learn and adapt these processes and I'm so excited to have you on board Jennifer. I'm excited to make it rain again for anybody else who wants to be, you know, part of it.


Jennifer M:

And this is definitely an easy way to get such an important piece of the process without committing an entire team or building a team. You can outsource it and it gets you on-boarded and going quickly.


Judy:

Excellent. Well, thank you so much Jen to talk about a lot of important things that people can really tap into right away. And of course we'll be happy to answer any questions you can contact me on the website and it will be love to collaborate with any one of you out there who wants to learn more about how Jennifer can help you grow your business.

Okay. Thanks for your time today. Thank you. Bye Bye.

 
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