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It is never too late to prepare yourself for your next event!

It is never too late to prepare yourself for your next event!

After enduring 2 years of the Covid pandemic, the financial status of the world and its citizens is painful, to say the least. Not only are energy prices skyrocketing, but also vegetables, coffee, and tea is getting more and more expensive. You can see the effects of this financial crisis already in people's shopping behavior. Cheaper supermarkets such as the Lidl and the Aldi have seen a rise in their number of clients in the past 3 months and the clients that they already had, have been spending more than they usually would. During covid times, people would often visit just the one store, to prevent getting sick. Nowadays, they will gladly visit 3 or 4 stores, purely to see where they will get their products cheapest. Specialty stores that grew during covid times are losing revenue now due to inflation. Ultimately, consumers are going to face an enormous challenge this year and this will be reflected in the spending behavior within the retail. So when the retail thought that they were ready to battle the world again after the pandemic, here comes the next curveball! But let's brighten up the mood a bit and talk about something that makes you happy. And, I don't know about you but something that makes me very happy is looking at the current weather forecast. Sunshine is on its way people! And with the sun coming out again, our winter jackets are slowly but surely making their way back to the wardrobe for their summer hibernation. Different weather also brings different clothes. Often during bank holidays such as Easter or Ascension-day, people like to enjoy their extra-long weekends by booking a little city trip and cities equal shopping! Shops want to attract as many people as possible on these weekends, so they often launch promotions and sales to lure them into the store calling it an Easter special or Black Friday weekend sale. Hosting such events and promotions takes time and calculated precision. You need to think about what items you do and don’t want to add to the promotion. To make this part of merchandise management easier for you, Chainbalance has upgraded the Event planning feature in Smart Supply to simplify this process. So how does it work? Get ready for the super sale Planning events is an essential aspect of increasing your turnover and attracting new customers. To simplify the planning and in particular to merge the experience of the team with intelligent algorithms, Chainbalance offers an Event Planning Tool. Before you can start planning an event you first need to think about practical settings such as which stores are included when events take place, and of course which items you want to add. Some bank holidays are religious and not all countries share the same religion so taking the time to think about which stores are and aren’t included in a particular event is important. Secondly, it is important to think about which items you want to include in the event. If you have fashion items that have just launched, you probably don’t want to add these to your sale. Fashion items usually don’t go on sale until the end of the season nears or they just run out of items to sell and just don’t produce anymore. You can make this decision with just a few clicks in the Event Planning Tool. If there are reference times, we can also include this information in the process. Based on the parameters for the event, the POS, the products, and the number of products for the event, we decide on the optimal allocation for all POS, by option, color, and size (SKU). This not only saves time but opens hidden sales potential that could be overlooked in the mass of POS, products, and dynamics in demand. So you can plan and schedule your events well in advance, share them with your colleagues and initiate everything with Chainbalance. Cleaning out your DC Even after a sale period, a sale might linger on for a few more days or weeks. For example, Black Friday is not only the Friday but often the whole weekend including Monday (Cyber Monday). You have a few days to run your event and even after that, you can still sell final items at a reduced price. The End Push will help you to allocate the last bits and pieces available in your DC to your stores intelligently. Like the event plan, you can choose which stores you include and which articles you would like to include in your end push. Nobody knows when the world will settle again. It might take a few months, years, or even never return to how it was before the inflation rise and covid times. All retail can do, is think in the here and now and cleverly use the data provided. Investing in technologies that will help you achieve more in less time is exactly what a retailer and brand need in times where dynamic demand is influenced by so many different worldly aspects. You might have missed the Easter sale through the event plan, but more bank holidays including extra-long weekends are around the corner. Plan your demo now and be ready to start using the event plan

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Let’s get ethically fashionable!

Let’s get ethically fashionable!

The fashion industry is generally known for not being the most ethical and sustainable industry of all, and this is softly put. However, brands are getting more aware of this, it is a vicious cycle we are trapped in fed by consumers' needs to have everything their heart's desire and brands wanting to meet that desire for the lowest costs possible. Like my mum used to tell me when I was angry at my sister for stealing my mascara again and I was plotting my revenge pretty open at the dining table: ‘’somebody has to be the grown-up and shake it off”. It is almost the same with his subject. Or the brands need to change their production methods, or our buying behavior and expectations need to change. We are living in a fast world. Fast food, fast service, fast deliveries, fast internet, you name it. We are also living in a world where the climate is of big concern. We are wasting right, left, and center, polluting our planet. What I find interesting about this topic, and I am speaking for myself now, is that we know we are doing it and we all have an opinion about it, but do we really do anything about it? Since I started working in the retail and fashion industry, I have been more aware of this topic and, intrigued by it, I went into the app of my favorite online store and looked back at the orders I did for 2021. Almost embarrassed to say as the year is not even over and there are many more stores I have bought clothes from over the year, but on this particular platform only I already reached the 30 garments bought. Insert shame face here. Let’s do some quick math. Let’s round my number up to 50 garments a year. We have about 8 billion people on this earth. We have approx. 750 million people living in Europe only. If all these people would have the same behavioral pattern as I have, again insert shame face, in Europe only stores would have to produce 37,5 billion pieces of clothing. 37,5 billion for 8 billion people on this planet. Wait, what? Bear in mind that I have now excluded Australia, the USA, Canada, China, Japan, and many, many more. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions each year. How come? Because the fashion industry to has become, ‘fast’. What is fast fashion? Let’s start with asking the question “what is fast fashion”? The internet states the following: “Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. “ So, in other words: Producing a high number of singular items because an influencer on TikTok or Instagram was seen wearing or promoting it, and now it is so hyped that everybody wants it. Seems like a great way to make money, right? Fast fashion is a concept that started in the year 1990 and also meant the end of the traditional seasons as we know them. Summer, fall, winter, and spring seasons are replaced with multiple, mini-seasons throughout the year. Sometimes a singular store can have up to 25 seasons! The items made are usually items that you wear for a short period, made with not necessarily the highest quality of fabrics, and then you discard them. Imagine the waste of clothing that is not sold by the end of these mini-seasons. Next to that, imagine the number of items thrown away because of the poor quality and still ending up at the dump maybe not even long after purchase. Does this still seem like a good idea? Part of the reason why the fashion industry produces these tremendous volumes of clothes is the fast growth of inexpensive synthetic fabrics. Cotton and silk are swapped for polyester and nylon which are derived from fossil fuels. Clothes can be manufactured more affordable for consumers resulting in consumers buying more of these products at a lower cost. So, what now? We are caught in a vicious cycle. Because we consumers want it, brands will keep on making it. And if brands stop using inexpensive oil-based synthetics to fibers with a lower carbon footprint, prices will need to be raised potentially reducing consumption and waste. But money keeps the world turning and the ‘risk’ of making less money because of these changes then must battle against ethical aspects. Who is going to give in first is the question? I think the ‘need’ of consumers to have everything fast and in high amounts will not change which means the cycle needs to be broken by the brands themselves which I also find unlikely. Consumers often don't want to know where things are made. The lesser you know, the better. Why be concerned about something unknown to me? The consumer is not innocent in this matter, so it is unfair to only look towards the brands. As I said, it is an ongoing cycle. Using our powers right! In conclusion, the world is done for, ruined, ready for the trash. Thanks for ready my blog again, bye now. Just joking of course! Because besides the things we are not doing very well in the sustainability parts of life, we humans are also developing in such a way that we are learning more about the world through science and have developed immensely on technology grounds. We can help brands in making the right choices in making their organization more sustainable which then also triggers the consumers to think about what they are consuming. Solutions can be found in different areas of the matter. Brands can invest in recycling technologies that turn old fibers into new fibers. Or start using friendlier materials like bamboo, anything to eliminate the oil-based fabrics from their assortment. Laying the focus on the production side of the issue. Another equally important side to this story is focusing on the actual demand. Instead of just producing without doing any analyses on sales potential but just basing the need on consumers' greed, brands should use technologies that will inform them upfront and during the selling of items if it is worthwhile producing more yes or no. Doing this smart and with the right software in place, brands will be able to balance out production and sales. Even for already sustainable brands, it is always wise to keep on analyzing this data, so you won’t overproduce. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will the fashion industry become ethical and sustainable in one either. But there are options for brands to take the first steps towards setting the right example. Breaking this cycle takes guts, make sure you use your powers right.

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Why the classic wholesale strategy is dying.

Why the classic wholesale strategy is dying.

We all know the phrase: The client is king. Brands will go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of a (potential) customer. For example, last week, in the Netherlands, there was a whole uprising about a new yacht that Jeff Bezos had made in Rotterdam. In itself, not a big problem. Apart from the fact that they miscalculated that the vessel cannot actually reach the open waters because of a historical bridge that cannot open that high for it to pass through. The solution? Let's dismantle the bridge! This is just an example of how far the client wishes and the willingness to satisfy these wishes can go. A 'no' simply cannot be sold anymore. A few years back, you only had a handful of car brands, and the colors these cars had were available in red, blue, green, and yellow. And, that's it! Nowadays, your options are almost limitless. If you desire a pink car with leopard print all over it, I am positive that you will find a car dealer willing to deliver. Traditional wholesale setup The traditional wholesale setup where brands' responsibility stops after designing the goods, presenting them at trade shows for their potential customers, and having the collections produced and sold towards the retailers will no longer stand for. The biggest driver for this outdated flow is the customer. Fashion and trends change all the time, and we humans are in this time of age able and allowed by society to express ourselves in our clothes and accessories. Whereas women were obligated to wear heels and skirts a few years back, it is now perfectly normal for women to wear jeans and sneakers. Brands need to listen to what the world wants them to produce. Because if they blankly ignore, they will lose potential customers and, bottom line, lose revenue. So, what needs to happen is switching the chain around. Instead of the brand manufacturing the items, placing them at the retailers, and leaving further responsibility to sell with them, the customer's buying behavior needs to fuel the brands with the correct data. "We sold 300 jeans in our store only this week and 0 skirts. Let's produce fewer jeans and more skirts!" Said no one ever. Let's be honest, who better to fuel the brands with sales information than the retailers themselves. Take the last 2 years, for example. The fashion industry saw a high rise in sportswear. Working from home, people often would slip into their adidas sports pants while having a buttoned shirt neatly ironed on top. It would be foolish for sports brands to ignore this consumption trend and not produce more sweat and/or sport pants. I mean, you only really see the top half of you when in a zoom meeting anyway, and I bet half of the world thought this way during the pandemic. From a retailer's point of view, they can state: "I can't fill my warehouse with goods for which I can't plan the demand in advance." But then again, nobody can do that with 100% certainty. Because the consumer is too dynamic and can access an infinite offer - anywhere. Shared risks make for a fairer chain What can we conclude? The fairness of the shared responsibility for the whole supply chain has shifted. The risk of not selling the items is no longer the retailer's issue now but goes all the way back to the brands. The classic wholesale setup will become redundant. The one-way thinking, the unfair spread of risk, and no speedy responsiveness to adapt to dynamic consumption simply don't fit the current market. But does that mean we will introduce a whole new structure, or will we welcome a wholesale 2.0 version? Considering that the trend currently shows that we have a complete verticalization of the strategy (read more about this in our D2C blog), we are preparing ourselves for the D2C (direct to consumer) structure. Why? Short and sweet on the advantages: Control, speed, and transparency. Values fitting today's customer wishes. But D2C can also exist within the wholesale business. Think about concession, i.e., renting space, or agreements such as depots and Shop-in-shop. In these business structures, brands and retailers work together and actively manage the POS as a team. As long as the central question remains: "What can we do together to make this structure work" by zooming in on the strengths of each component in the value chain. Change always leads to questions. Will this type of business transform into an even more vital role? Is this the next step of the transformation in wholesale? How will the cooperation between retail and brand have to adapt or intensify? And an equally important question: how will the order processes change? Will we continue to have a classic order with samples, which indeed transmits haptics, design, and message better to the retailer, but also costs valuable time on the other side, or not? All-in-all, you can state that our beloved fashion industry is at a turning point. Processes will be rethought, and consumer input is at its highest importance. And not only input but also global trends like sustainability influence the industry. And this trend particularly, the sense of responsibility for a sustainable business, is becoming a crucial driver for customers to purchase items with a particular brand, yes or no. Learn more about sustainability and the meaning of fast fashion in our site story - Let's get ethically fashionable! The traditional wholesale structure is disappearing, if not already entirely disappeared. There is no way around it. The question is, are you ready to turn your value chain around and jump aboard this value-chain train?

More
Why the classic wholesale strategy is dying.

Why the classic wholesale strategy is dying.

We all know the phrase: The client is king. Brands will go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of a (potential) customer. For example, last week, in the Netherlands, there was a whole uprising about a new yacht that Jeff Bezos had made in Rotterdam. In itself, not a big problem. Apart from the fact that they miscalculated that the vessel cannot actually reach the open waters because of a historical bridge that cannot open that high for it to pass through. The solution? Let's dismantle the bridge! This is just an example of how far the client wishes and the willingness to satisfy these wishes can go. A 'no' simply cannot be sold anymore. A few years back, you only had a handful of car brands, and the colors these cars had were available in red, blue, green, and yellow. And, that's it! Nowadays, your options are almost limitless. If you desire a pink car with leopard print all over it, I am positive that you will find a car dealer willing to deliver. Traditional wholesale setup The traditional wholesale setup where brands' responsibility stops after designing the goods, presenting them at trade shows for their potential customers, and having the collections produced and sold towards the retailers will no longer stand for. The biggest driver for this outdated flow is the customer. Fashion and trends change all the time, and we humans are in this time of age able and allowed by society to express ourselves in our clothes and accessories. Whereas women were obligated to wear heels and skirts a few years back, it is now perfectly normal for women to wear jeans and sneakers. Brands need to listen to what the world wants them to produce. Because if they blankly ignore, they will lose potential customers and, bottom line, lose revenue. So, what needs to happen is switching the chain around. Instead of the brand manufacturing the items, placing them at the retailers, and leaving further responsibility to sell with them, the customer's buying behavior needs to fuel the brands with the correct data. "We sold 300 jeans in our store only this week and 0 skirts. Let's produce fewer jeans and more skirts!" Said no one ever. Let's be honest, who better to fuel the brands with sales information than the retailers themselves. Take the last 2 years, for example. The fashion industry saw a high rise in sportswear. Working from home, people often would slip into their adidas sports pants while having a buttoned shirt neatly ironed on top. It would be foolish for sports brands to ignore this consumption trend and not produce more sweat and/or sport pants. I mean, you only really see the top half of you when in a zoom meeting anyway, and I bet half of the world thought this way during the pandemic. From a retailer's point of view, they can state: "I can't fill my warehouse with goods for which I can't plan the demand in advance." But then again, nobody can do that with 100% certainty. Because the consumer is too dynamic and can access an infinite offer - anywhere. Shared risks make for a fairer chain What can we conclude? The fairness of the shared responsibility for the whole supply chain has shifted. The risk of not selling the items is no longer the retailer's issue now but goes all the way back to the brands. The classic wholesale setup will become redundant. The one-way thinking, the unfair spread of risk, and no speedy responsiveness to adapt to dynamic consumption simply don't fit the current market. But does that mean we will introduce a whole new structure, or will we welcome a wholesale 2.0 version? Considering that the trend currently shows that we have a complete verticalization of the strategy (read more about this in our D2C blog), we are preparing ourselves for the D2C (direct to consumer) structure. Why? Short and sweet on the advantages: Control, speed, and transparency. Values fitting today's customer wishes. But D2C can also exist within the wholesale business. Think about concession, i.e., renting space, or agreements such as depots and Shop-in-shop. In these business structures, brands and retailers work together and actively manage the POS as a team. As long as the central question remains: "What can we do together to make this structure work" by zooming in on the strengths of each component in the value chain. Change always leads to questions. Will this type of business transform into an even more vital role? Is this the next step of the transformation in wholesale? How will the cooperation between retail and brand have to adapt or intensify? And an equally important question: how will the order processes change? Will we continue to have a classic order with samples, which indeed transmits haptics, design, and message better to the retailer, but also costs valuable time on the other side, or not? All-in-all, you can state that our beloved fashion industry is at a turning point. Processes will be rethought, and consumer input is at its highest importance. And not only input but also global trends like sustainability influence the industry. And this trend particularly, the sense of responsibility for a sustainable business, is becoming a crucial driver for customers to purchase items with a particular brand, yes or no. Learn more about sustainability and the meaning of fast fashion in our site story - Let's get ethically fashionable! The traditional wholesale structure is disappearing, if not already entirely disappeared. There is no way around it. The question is, are you ready to turn your value chain around and jump aboard this value-chain train?

More
Why the classic wholesale strategy is dying.

Why the classic wholesale strategy is dying.

We all know the phrase: The client is king. Brands will go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of a (potential) customer. For example, last week, in the Netherlands, there was a whole uprising about a new yacht that Jeff Bezos had made in Rotterdam. In itself, not a big problem. Apart from the fact that they miscalculated that the vessel cannot actually reach the open waters because of a historical bridge that cannot open that high for it to pass through. The solution? Let's dismantle the bridge! This is just an example of how far the client wishes and the willingness to satisfy these wishes can go. A 'no' simply cannot be sold anymore. A few years back, you only had a handful of car brands, and the colors these cars had were available in red, blue, green, and yellow. And, that's it! Nowadays, your options are almost limitless. If you desire a pink car with leopard print all over it, I am positive that you will find a car dealer willing to deliver. Traditional wholesale setup The traditional wholesale setup where brands' responsibility stops after designing the goods, presenting them at trade shows for their potential customers, and having the collections produced and sold towards the retailers will no longer stand for. The biggest driver for this outdated flow is the customer. Fashion and trends change all the time, and we humans are in this time of age able and allowed by society to express ourselves in our clothes and accessories. Whereas women were obligated to wear heels and skirts a few years back, it is now perfectly normal for women to wear jeans and sneakers. Brands need to listen to what the world wants them to produce. Because if they blankly ignore, they will lose potential customers and, bottom line, lose revenue. So, what needs to happen is switching the chain around. Instead of the brand manufacturing the items, placing them at the retailers, and leaving further responsibility to sell with them, the customer's buying behavior needs to fuel the brands with the correct data. "We sold 300 jeans in our store only this week and 0 skirts. Let's produce fewer jeans and more skirts!" Said no one ever. Let's be honest, who better to fuel the brands with sales information than the retailers themselves. Take the last 2 years, for example. The fashion industry saw a high rise in sportswear. Working from home, people often would slip into their adidas sports pants while having a buttoned shirt neatly ironed on top. It would be foolish for sports brands to ignore this consumption trend and not produce more sweat and/or sport pants. I mean, you only really see the top half of you when in a zoom meeting anyway, and I bet half of the world thought this way during the pandemic. From a retailer's point of view, they can state: "I can't fill my warehouse with goods for which I can't plan the demand in advance." But then again, nobody can do that with 100% certainty. Because the consumer is too dynamic and can access an infinite offer - anywhere. Shared risks make for a fairer chain What can we conclude? The fairness of the shared responsibility for the whole supply chain has shifted. The risk of not selling the items is no longer the retailer's issue now but goes all the way back to the brands. The classic wholesale setup will become redundant. The one-way thinking, the unfair spread of risk, and no speedy responsiveness to adapt to dynamic consumption simply don't fit the current market. But does that mean we will introduce a whole new structure, or will we welcome a wholesale 2.0 version? Considering that the trend currently shows that we have a complete verticalization of the strategy (read more about this in our D2C blog), we are preparing ourselves for the D2C (direct to consumer) structure. Why? Short and sweet on the advantages: Control, speed, and transparency. Values fitting today's customer wishes. But D2C can also exist within the wholesale business. Think about concession, i.e., renting space, or agreements such as depots and Shop-in-shop. In these business structures, brands and retailers work together and actively manage the POS as a team. As long as the central question remains: "What can we do together to make this structure work" by zooming in on the strengths of each component in the value chain. Change always leads to questions. Will this type of business transform into an even more vital role? Is this the next step of the transformation in wholesale? How will the cooperation between retail and brand have to adapt or intensify? And an equally important question: how will the order processes change? Will we continue to have a classic order with samples, which indeed transmits haptics, design, and message better to the retailer, but also costs valuable time on the other side, or not? All-in-all, you can state that our beloved fashion industry is at a turning point. Processes will be rethought, and consumer input is at its highest importance. And not only input but also global trends like sustainability influence the industry. And this trend particularly, the sense of responsibility for a sustainable business, is becoming a crucial driver for customers to purchase items with a particular brand, yes or no. Learn more about sustainability and the meaning of fast fashion in our site story - Let's get ethically fashionable! The traditional wholesale structure is disappearing, if not already entirely disappeared. There is no way around it. The question is, are you ready to turn your value chain around and jump aboard this value-chain train?

More
Let’s get ethically fashionable!

Let’s get ethically fashionable!

The fashion industry is generally known for not being the most ethical and sustainable industry of all, and this is softly put. However, brands are getting more aware of this, it is a vicious cycle we are trapped in fed by consumers' needs to have everything their heart's desire and brands wanting to meet that desire for the lowest costs possible. Like my mum used to tell me when I was angry at my sister for stealing my mascara again and I was plotting my revenge pretty open at the dining table: ‘’somebody has to be the grown-up and shake it off”. It is almost the same with his subject. Or the brands need to change their production methods, or our buying behavior and expectations need to change. We are living in a fast world. Fast food, fast service, fast deliveries, fast internet, you name it. We are also living in a world where the climate is of big concern. We are wasting right, left, and center, polluting our planet. What I find interesting about this topic, and I am speaking for myself now, is that we know we are doing it and we all have an opinion about it, but do we really do anything about it? Since I started working in the retail and fashion industry, I have been more aware of this topic and, intrigued by it, I went into the app of my favorite online store and looked back at the orders I did for 2021. Almost embarrassed to say as the year is not even over and there are many more stores I have bought clothes from over the year, but on this particular platform only I already reached the 30 garments bought. Insert shame face here. Let’s do some quick math. Let’s round my number up to 50 garments a year. We have about 8 billion people on this earth. We have approx. 750 million people living in Europe only. If all these people would have the same behavioral pattern as I have, again insert shame face, in Europe only stores would have to produce 37,5 billion pieces of clothing. 37,5 billion for 8 billion people on this planet. Wait, what? Bear in mind that I have now excluded Australia, the USA, Canada, China, Japan, and many, many more. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions each year. How come? Because the fashion industry to has become, ‘fast’. What is fast fashion? Let’s start with asking the question “what is fast fashion”? The internet states the following: “Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. “ So, in other words: Producing a high number of singular items because an influencer on TikTok or Instagram was seen wearing or promoting it, and now it is so hyped that everybody wants it. Seems like a great way to make money, right? Fast fashion is a concept that started in the year 1990 and also meant the end of the traditional seasons as we know them. Summer, fall, winter, and spring seasons are replaced with multiple, mini-seasons throughout the year. Sometimes a singular store can have up to 25 seasons! The items made are usually items that you wear for a short period, made with not necessarily the highest quality of fabrics, and then you discard them. Imagine the waste of clothing that is not sold by the end of these mini-seasons. Next to that, imagine the number of items thrown away because of the poor quality and still ending up at the dump maybe not even long after purchase. Does this still seem like a good idea? Part of the reason why the fashion industry produces these tremendous volumes of clothes is the fast growth of inexpensive synthetic fabrics. Cotton and silk are swapped for polyester and nylon which are derived from fossil fuels. Clothes can be manufactured more affordable for consumers resulting in consumers buying more of these products at a lower cost. So, what now? We are caught in a vicious cycle. Because we consumers want it, brands will keep on making it. And if brands stop using inexpensive oil-based synthetics to fibers with a lower carbon footprint, prices will need to be raised potentially reducing consumption and waste. But money keeps the world turning and the ‘risk’ of making less money because of these changes then must battle against ethical aspects. Who is going to give in first is the question? I think the ‘need’ of consumers to have everything fast and in high amounts will not change which means the cycle needs to be broken by the brands themselves which I also find unlikely. Consumers often don't want to know where things are made. The lesser you know, the better. Why be concerned about something unknown to me? The consumer is not innocent in this matter, so it is unfair to only look towards the brands. As I said, it is an ongoing cycle. Using our powers right! In conclusion, the world is done for, ruined, ready for the trash. Thanks for ready my blog again, bye now. Just joking of course! Because besides the things we are not doing very well in the sustainability parts of life, we humans are also developing in such a way that we are learning more about the world through science and have developed immensely on technology grounds. We can help brands in making the right choices in making their organization more sustainable which then also triggers the consumers to think about what they are consuming. Solutions can be found in different areas of the matter. Brands can invest in recycling technologies that turn old fibers into new fibers. Or start using friendlier materials like bamboo, anything to eliminate the oil-based fabrics from their assortment. Laying the focus on the production side of the issue. Another equally important side to this story is focusing on the actual demand. Instead of just producing without doing any analyses on sales potential but just basing the need on consumers' greed, brands should use technologies that will inform them upfront and during the selling of items if it is worthwhile producing more yes or no. Doing this smart and with the right software in place, brands will be able to balance out production and sales. Even for already sustainable brands, it is always wise to keep on analyzing this data, so you won’t overproduce. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will the fashion industry become ethical and sustainable in one either. But there are options for brands to take the first steps towards setting the right example. Breaking this cycle takes guts, make sure you use your powers right.

More
Let’s get ethically fashionable!

Let’s get ethically fashionable!

The fashion industry is generally known for not being the most ethical and sustainable industry of all, and this is softly put. However, brands are getting more aware of this, it is a vicious cycle we are trapped in fed by consumers' needs to have everything their heart's desire and brands wanting to meet that desire for the lowest costs possible. Like my mum used to tell me when I was angry at my sister for stealing my mascara again and I was plotting my revenge pretty open at the dining table: ‘’somebody has to be the grown-up and shake it off”. It is almost the same with his subject. Or the brands need to change their production methods, or our buying behavior and expectations need to change. We are living in a fast world. Fast food, fast service, fast deliveries, fast internet, you name it. We are also living in a world where the climate is of big concern. We are wasting right, left, and center, polluting our planet. What I find interesting about this topic, and I am speaking for myself now, is that we know we are doing it and we all have an opinion about it, but do we really do anything about it? Since I started working in the retail and fashion industry, I have been more aware of this topic and, intrigued by it, I went into the app of my favorite online store and looked back at the orders I did for 2021. Almost embarrassed to say as the year is not even over and there are many more stores I have bought clothes from over the year, but on this particular platform only I already reached the 30 garments bought. Insert shame face here. Let’s do some quick math. Let’s round my number up to 50 garments a year. We have about 8 billion people on this earth. We have approx. 750 million people living in Europe only. If all these people would have the same behavioral pattern as I have, again insert shame face, in Europe only stores would have to produce 37,5 billion pieces of clothing. 37,5 billion for 8 billion people on this planet. Wait, what? Bear in mind that I have now excluded Australia, the USA, Canada, China, Japan, and many, many more. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions each year. How come? Because the fashion industry to has become, ‘fast’. What is fast fashion? Let’s start with asking the question “what is fast fashion”? The internet states the following: “Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. “ So, in other words: Producing a high number of singular items because an influencer on TikTok or Instagram was seen wearing or promoting it, and now it is so hyped that everybody wants it. Seems like a great way to make money, right? Fast fashion is a concept that started in the year 1990 and also meant the end of the traditional seasons as we know them. Summer, fall, winter, and spring seasons are replaced with multiple, mini-seasons throughout the year. Sometimes a singular store can have up to 25 seasons! The items made are usually items that you wear for a short period, made with not necessarily the highest quality of fabrics, and then you discard them. Imagine the waste of clothing that is not sold by the end of these mini-seasons. Next to that, imagine the number of items thrown away because of the poor quality and still ending up at the dump maybe not even long after purchase. Does this still seem like a good idea? Part of the reason why the fashion industry produces these tremendous volumes of clothes is the fast growth of inexpensive synthetic fabrics. Cotton and silk are swapped for polyester and nylon which are derived from fossil fuels. Clothes can be manufactured more affordable for consumers resulting in consumers buying more of these products at a lower cost. So, what now? We are caught in a vicious cycle. Because we consumers want it, brands will keep on making it. And if brands stop using inexpensive oil-based synthetics to fibers with a lower carbon footprint, prices will need to be raised potentially reducing consumption and waste. But money keeps the world turning and the ‘risk’ of making less money because of these changes then must battle against ethical aspects. Who is going to give in first is the question? I think the ‘need’ of consumers to have everything fast and in high amounts will not change which means the cycle needs to be broken by the brands themselves which I also find unlikely. Consumers often don't want to know where things are made. The lesser you know, the better. Why be concerned about something unknown to me? The consumer is not innocent in this matter, so it is unfair to only look towards the brands. As I said, it is an ongoing cycle. Using our powers right! In conclusion, the world is done for, ruined, ready for the trash. Thanks for ready my blog again, bye now. Just joking of course! Because besides the things we are not doing very well in the sustainability parts of life, we humans are also developing in such a way that we are learning more about the world through science and have developed immensely on technology grounds. We can help brands in making the right choices in making their organization more sustainable which then also triggers the consumers to think about what they are consuming. Solutions can be found in different areas of the matter. Brands can invest in recycling technologies that turn old fibers into new fibers. Or start using friendlier materials like bamboo, anything to eliminate the oil-based fabrics from their assortment. Laying the focus on the production side of the issue. Another equally important side to this story is focusing on the actual demand. Instead of just producing without doing any analyses on sales potential but just basing the need on consumers' greed, brands should use technologies that will inform them upfront and during the selling of items if it is worthwhile producing more yes or no. Doing this smart and with the right software in place, brands will be able to balance out production and sales. Even for already sustainable brands, it is always wise to keep on analyzing this data, so you won’t overproduce. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will the fashion industry become ethical and sustainable in one either. But there are options for brands to take the first steps towards setting the right example. Breaking this cycle takes guts, make sure you use your powers right.

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Why AI takes user experience to the next level.

Why AI takes user experience to the next level.

Many industries have been swept away by the fast-growing developments around artificial intelligence (AI), which is revolutionizing businesses with rich, in-depth data about consumers and the market that our human brain might not be able to analyze. The initial reaction to AI was slightly hesitant for the fashion and apparel industry, and who can blame them. The past has shown that this industry has been built on human creativity, so bringing in facts and figures assembled by technology can be seen as an understandable concern. Let us start by saying that artificial intelligence uses human input as a reasoning model and does not have the end goal to replace it. It is merely a tool to automate and optimize specific data analyses, establishing thinking beyond our human capabilities. We live in a world driven by digitization, and this does not seem to change any time soon. Hand in hand with this trend goes the constant change of customer expectations, something you as a brand need to keep an eye out on constantly. Otherwise, you might fall behind with your organizational workflow, which can lead to missing sales potential. So how can you best use additional information and knowledge gained by AI? Expert Xin Zhang from Chainbalance and the founders of the AI Design Competence Collective, Melenie Hecker and Professor Dr. Ingo Rollwagen, share their visions and expertise on using artificial intelligence and algorithmic innovation. What is artificial intelligence? Before we dive into the experts’ insights, let us first answer the question 'What is artificial intelligence?'. Unlike human and animal intelligence, which is natural, artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines. AI provides software that can reason on input and explain on output. Can you feel your headache starting already? AI can seem a little scary to some because they do not 'understand' it, but in the end, it is all about logic. AI brings together rich data and can point you and your company in the right direction when it comes down to decision-making. Still, it seems scary, doesn’t it? Well, AI is already widely used in daily life. Think about chatbots, autocorrect, autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, AI searching engines, and recommendation algorithms. Every day we are confronted with some form of artificial intelligence. AI within the fashion and apparel industry Have you ever shopped online for a new pair of jeans and ended up buying not only jeans but also new shoes, a new bag, and four new shirts to finish the look? Ever thought about how you ended up buying all these items which you did not intend to purchase, but did anyway? Yep, that's intelligent selling, again a form of AI. The 'complete your look' method shows you recommendations of items that would look amazing in combination with the items in your shopping cart. These recommendations are made based on products that are frequently sold together. The software can detect this and recommend it to others because if one consumer likes it, why wouldn't a similar customer? Customers are feeding the software with factual input, and an explainable output is given. But still, research shows that globally in the fashion and retail industry, the investment in AI and machine learning (ML) is only one percent, according to the latest McKinsey & Company analysis, "Pitchbook August 2021". Despite enormous potential, the fashion industry is struggling to make significant investments in this area. In addition to the obstacles in the field, which lie in still a scarcity of adequate software - both in quantity and quality, there are challenges for the use and the practicable application area for the individual company. So let’s ask ourselves the question: “What are the biggest challenges in the fashion industry, and how can AI help to battle these challenges?” More time for creativity One of the biggest challenges is overproduction and merchandise management. AI can help battle these issues by analyzing consumers' buying behavior and making production and purchase prediction decisions. At the end of the day, this cannot be done without you, the consumer! If you do this with the help of technology, you can save up to 80% of manual work. In addition to saving time, you can also make decisions that you hadn't thought of before, such as assortment optimization or consumption-based production forecasting. In assortment optimization, cluster analyses can help identify sales patterns within specific products and use these for similar POS. This way, you can identify hidden sales potential for products or product groups in areas where they were previously not or not sufficiently placed. Searching for patterns across hundreds of POS and even more SKUs is impossible to manage manually, so to do this successfully, you need to get some software in place to help you out along the way. Daily data-driven software decisions can also be helpful when deciding on production quantities, e.g., for size curves per POS: What used to be done by A B C clusters can be adjusted to the future demand, individually for the store and the product, by forecasting the behavior of the product lifecycle in a reference period. The possibilities of ML&AI are unlimited and enable people to achieve better and faster results. So, why not just put AI into everything we do? Xin Zhang, Business Intelligence Consultant at Chainbalance has the answer: It's not just about using AI just because you can. It's about serving and satisfying today's costumer with the help of AI. Expert on board for consumption-driven decision making Business Intelligence Consultant Xin Zhang, who graduated from Tilburg University with a master's degree in Cognitive Science and AI, has gained a few years of experience in the AI field and now applies this expertise at Chainbalance. Chainbalance helps fashion, sports, and footwear brands to optimize operational processes in merchandise management as well as production processes, using technologies such as AI and algorithm innovation. Organizations like adidas, Esprit, and Triumph have trusted the Dutch company and its technologies for over 12 years now with massive success. Check out our case studies on our website for more in-depth information about our clients! "In a digital world where consumers can buy anything instantly through hundreds of different channels, there is no place for manual micro decision making anymore. AI and algorithm innovation help us at Chainbalance to keep our clients fast, cost-focused, and most importantly, fully aligned with consumers and their resulting needs." says Zhang. Smart Supply has several replenishment strategies for various stores. It would be easier and faster for our solution to figure out which approach is the most appropriate for a specific store in a certain period with the assistance of ML. Additionally, ML helps us to implement outlier detection to engage in customer performance monitoring efficiently. The attitude-behavior gap Consumer behavior is constantly changing, and so is the entire market. So, what does this mean for the future of AI? We asked the founders of the AI Design Competence Collective, Melenie Hecker and Professor Dr. Ingo Rollwagen: "Major online retailers face the digital frontier of bridging the gap between their customers' sustainability attitudes and behavior. This means there is no data-based entity between consumers' opinions on ethical and sustainable issues and their purchasing behavior. Suppose in the future a quantifiable reflexive connection is found. In that case, we can use the new customer data to design completely new products and services based on algorithmic innovation, which can be produced in a resource-saving way. However, to use algorithmic innovation appropriately, the company must first clarify which problem, such as overconsumption, should be solved to define measurable sustainability goals and the algorithmic tools needed to achieve them." What is next? If you let your mind wander, the opportunities for AI and fashion are endless. As analysis opportunities grow, the rich data that can be extracted grows too. So, what is next for Chainbalance? Which AI solutions can we expect? "AI needs to be fed with data, and as we have learned, data can be about anything. Not only POS data from our clients regarding sales numbers or on-hand, but we can also collect and process external data such as weather forecasts, consumer reviews, and so on used for data mining to enhance the product allocation and replenishment operations. If the forecast shows that September will not be a warm month, you replenish your autumn season sooner, for example. All this data will help you to sell accurate items battling the problem of overproduction and waste. " says Zhang.

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Welcoming JustBrands!

Welcoming JustBrands!

We are in the final spurt of the year and already 2021 will go down in history as one of the most challenging years. The lock-down, delivery delays, price increases in many areas from logistics to fabrics like cotton. But we can and should also look back on a lot of positive things. The increasing digitalization makes it possible for more people to work from home offices, we can share data and information more easily, and we have enabled our colleagues to master their work even better. We are witnessing a boom in the digitalization of sales and production, especially in the areas of digital collections and wholesale merchandise management. That is why we would like to share with you today a positive development at Chainbalance. In addition to our growing team, continued rollout with existing customers, and new customers this year (more on that next year), we're excited to announce the successful pilot with JustBrands! JustBrands is a Dutch fashion company and is best known for its PME Legend lifestyle brand, symbolized by the world of a cargo pilot style. To the group also belongs the brands' VANGUARD and CAST IRON. In the early stages of the crisis, JustBrands was already dealing with the question of what will happen after the lock-downs, how will the business change for wholesale, retail, and eCom? To become even faster and to support the team more extensively by reducing their time and manual workload, they decided to start with Chainbalance. After 12 weeks of onboarding, the pilot started and in September we celebrated the successful pilot with Justbrands Group. We are very happy to have Justbrands as a partner. Not only does the strategic positioning of the brands PME, VANGUARD, and CAST IRON fit well with our fashion focus, but especially the extensive experience in merchandise management has excited us and will bring us forward in the long run. Welcome to JustBrands!

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Welcoming JustBrands!

Welcoming JustBrands!

We are in the final spurt of the year and already 2021 will go down in history as one of the most challenging years. The lock-down, delivery delays, price increases in many areas from logistics to fabrics like cotton. But we can and should also look back on a lot of positive things. The increasing digitalization makes it possible for more people to work from home offices, we can share data and information more easily, and we have enabled our colleagues to master their work even better. We are witnessing a boom in the digitalization of sales and production, especially in the areas of digital collections and wholesale merchandise management. That is why we would like to share with you today a positive development at Chainbalance. In addition to our growing team, continued rollout with existing customers, and new customers this year (more on that next year), we're excited to announce the successful pilot with JustBrands! JustBrands is a Dutch fashion company and is best known for its PME Legend lifestyle brand, symbolized by the world of a cargo pilot style. To the group also belongs the brands' VANGUARD and CAST IRON. In the early stages of the crisis, JustBrands was already dealing with the question of what will happen after the lock-downs, how will the business change for wholesale, retail, and eCom? To become even faster and to support the team more extensively by reducing their time and manual workload, they decided to start with Chainbalance. After 12 weeks of onboarding, the pilot started and in September we celebrated the successful pilot with Justbrands Group. We are very happy to have Justbrands as a partner. Not only does the strategic positioning of the brands PME, VANGUARD, and CAST IRON fit well with our fashion focus, but especially the extensive experience in merchandise management has excited us and will bring us forward in the long run. Welcome to JustBrands!

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Welcoming JustBrands!

Welcoming JustBrands!

We are in the final spurt of the year and already 2021 will go down in history as one of the most challenging years. The lock-down, delivery delays, price increases in many areas from logistics to fabrics like cotton. But we can and should also look back on a lot of positive things. The increasing digitalization makes it possible for more people to work from home offices, we can share data and information more easily, and we have enabled our colleagues to master their work even better. We are witnessing a boom in the digitalization of sales and production, especially in the areas of digital collections and wholesale merchandise management. That is why we would like to share with you today a positive development at Chainbalance. In addition to our growing team, continued rollout with existing customers, and new customers this year (more on that next year), we're excited to announce the successful pilot with JustBrands! JustBrands is a Dutch fashion company and is best known for its PME Legend lifestyle brand, symbolized by the world of a cargo pilot style. To the group also belongs the brands' VANGUARD and CAST IRON. In the early stages of the crisis, JustBrands was already dealing with the question of what will happen after the lock-downs, how will the business change for wholesale, retail, and eCom? To become even faster and to support the team more extensively by reducing their time and manual workload, they decided to start with Chainbalance. After 12 weeks of onboarding, the pilot started and in September we celebrated the successful pilot with Justbrands Group. We are very happy to have Justbrands as a partner. Not only does the strategic positioning of the brands PME, VANGUARD, and CAST IRON fit well with our fashion focus, but especially the extensive experience in merchandise management has excited us and will bring us forward in the long run. Welcome to JustBrands!

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Ist ein automatisiertes Warenmanagement für die Fashion Artikel unmöglich?

Ist ein automatisiertes Warenmanagement für die Fashion Artikel unmöglich?

Schließe die Augen und stelle dir vor, du befindest dich in einem Bekleidungsgeschäft. Wie ist dieses Geschäft aufgebaut? Wahrscheinlich gibt es eine Grundausstattung. T-Shirts, Pullover, Jeans und Unterwäsche. Dann kommen die bedruckten Artikel. Einige könnten zum Beispiel mit einer Sonne bedruckt sein, um die Sommerzeit anzukündigen. Dann folgen die Artikel mit dem "Wow"-Faktor. Der tolle Mantel aus Kunstpelz und Wolle ist nur in begrenzter Stückzahl erhältlich und du musst ihn einfach haben. Aber wie kann man mit solchen dynamisch, konsumierten Artikeln, die Warensteuerung automatisieren? Ja, du hast gerade die Einteilung der Kollektionen von Modemarken in Kategorien beschrieben. In der Branche nennt man dies die NOOS, SNOOS und die Fashion Artikel, auf die wir uns nun etwas mehr konzentrieren wollen. Deine Vorstellungskraft vom Laden kann dich weit bringen, denn du warst in deinem Leben sicher schon in ein paar Geschäften. Versuche dir nun vorzustellen, wie die Warensteuerung über hunderte Läden, für diese Artikel, funktioniert. Das ist nicht so einfach, oder? Das liegt daran, dass die Nachversorgung von so viele Faktoren abhängig ist. Dinge, die unser menschliches Gehirn vielleicht gar nicht begreifen kann. Selbst für Maschinen ist dies manchmal ein Problem, insbesondere bei Fashion Artikeln. Externe Faktoren wie das Wetter, der Standort oder Marketingaktivitäten haben einen großen Einfluss auf den Verbrauch. Zusammen mit dem kurzen Produktlebenszyklus stellt die Herausforderung, nur das Nötigste nachzufüllen, herkömmliche Systeme vor große Probleme. NOOS, SNOOS und Fashionprodukte Jede Modemarke unterteilt ihre Kollektion in mehrere Kategorien. Produktgruppen, Divisions und in Themen. In jeder dieser Kategorien finden man häufig NOOS, SNOOS und Fashionprodukte. NOOS (Never out of stock) sind die Basicartikel, die das ganze Jahr über verkauft werden können. Das macht sie attraktiv für große Produktionsmengen und perfekt als Nachversorgungsprodukt, da der Lebenszyklus dieser Artikel sehr lang ist. All diese Daten ermöglichen es, gut durchdachte und kalkulierte Vorschläge für die Nachversorgung zu machen. Je länger der Lebenszyklus ist, desto mehr Informationen liegt zu dieser bestimmten SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) vor. SNOOS-Artikel (Seasonal never out of stock) sind Artikel wie z.B. Hoodies oder Pullover, die speziell für die kälteren Monate gedacht sind. Das Ziel ist es, die Kollektionen so nach wie möglich am aktuellem Konsum auszurichten. Das Sahnehäubchen auf dem Kuchen sind natürlich die Fashion Artikel. Diese Artikel sind in der Regel nur für einen kurzen Zeitraum im Geschäft, viel kürzer als die SNOOS. Die Artikel sind die sogenannten Hero oder auch key-Produkte. Diese eine, umwerfend aussehende Jacke im Schaufenster zieht dich in den Laden und lässt dich denken: "ICH BRAUCHE DAS". Die Schwierigkeit bei diesen Artikeln ist die Vorhersage, die in Bezug auf die Produktion und Platzierung getroffen werden muss. Eine Fehleinschätzung des Verbrauchs ist ein großes Risiko, und für diese besonderen Stücke werden oft Fasern verwendet, die nicht die günstigsten sind. Daher ist es wichtig, alle Aspekte dieser Artikel vollständig zu analysieren. Dabei kann der Verbrauch nicht nur international variieren, z. B. zwischen den Niederlanden und Deutschland, sondern auch regional. Zwei Läden in derselben Stadt können einen unterschiedlichen Konsum haben, weil die Läden unterschiedliche Inspirationen anbieten und natürlich unterschiedliche Kunden dort einkaufe. Das macht die Verteilung und die Nachversorgung besonders schwierig. Warum funktionieren herkömmliche Modelle nicht mehr? Der Verbrauch muss fast täglich analysiert werden, und die Absatzprognosen müssen für jede SKU und jeden POS (Point of Sale) berechnet werden. Klassische NOOS-Replenishment-Systeme erfüllen nicht die Anforderungen für die Nachversorgung von Fashion Artikeln. Sie sind zu statisch, orientieren sich an langen Produktlebenszyklen und sind zu wartungsintensiv, da Anpassungen pro Produkt, POS, Zeit und anderen externen Faktoren vorgenommen werden müssen. Der Prozess der Nachversorgung bleibt in manueller Hand und wird von Vertriebs- und Merchandise Plannern übernommen. Sie arbeiten oft manuell, mit Excel-Tabellen, wo ein großes Fehlerrisiko besteht. Wir sind schließlich auch nur Menschen. Fehler passieren! Eine sehr zeitaufwendige Arbeit und wie wir wissen, ist Zeit Geld. Diese verlorene Zeit könnte leicht für Aufgaben wie die Kollektionsrahmenplanung und der Produktionsmengenplanung effizienter genutzt werden. Es ist Zeit für mehr Kreativität und Strategie! Wie bereits erwähnt, haben Fashionprodukte einen ganz anderen Lebenszyklus als die NOOS Produkte. Sie sind kürzer und können stärker von externen Faktoren beeinflusst werden. Je kürzer der Lebenszyklus eines Artikels ist, desto weniger Daten liegen über die Produkte vor. Herkömmliche Systeme haben Schwierigkeiten, mit den wenigen Daten, die sie erhalten, die richtigen Entscheidungen zu treffen. Es stellt sich also die Frage, wie man für diese schwierigen Produkte, verbrauchsgesteuerte Entscheidungen treffen kann. Chainbalance nutzt bewährte Fashion-Logiken, statistische Modelle und trainierte Algorithmen, um dan gesamten Merchandise Flow von der initialen Verteilung bis hin zur Nachversorgung, Retouren und Austausch zu automatisieren, insbesondere für Fashion Artikel. Mit der "New-Mover-Procedure", wird es unseren Kunden ermöglicht, in den ersten Wochen mit geringen Mengen zu starten und sofort auf überdurchschnittlich gut laufende Filialen zu reagieren. Ein größerer Lagerbestand im zentralen DC (Distribution Center) erhöht die Möglichkeit, die Artikel an die Standorte mit dem höchsten Verkaufspotenzial zu verteilen. Durch eine intelligente "End-Of-Life" Logik, bleiben die Restbestände im DC, direkt für den langen Arm der eCom- und Plattformkanälen verfügbar. Haben wir Dich nun neugierig gemacht, wie wir den Umsatz speziell für Deine Fashion Artikel steigern? Schau dir dazu gerne unseren Erfahrungsbericht mit YAYA an. Wir freuen uns darauf, Dich kennen zu lernen und Deine Fragen zu beantworten - schreib uns direkt an.

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