Retailing is now one of the world’s largest industries and it is in a permanent state of change. This change has been accelerating over the past decade, (Zentes et al., 2011: Pg.1). This sector is not only more competitive than in the past but the consumer is also increasingly more demanding and more complex, (Gordon et al., 2006: Pg. 22). Retailers have to predict the desires of fickle customers, buy and allocate complex sets of merchandise, set the right prices, and offer the right promotions for each individual item. However, there are often wide gaps between supply and demand, which leave retailers holding too much of what customers don’t want, and too little of what they do’, (Friend and Walker, 2001: Pg. 133). This is a huge challenge which faces the retailer of today. Fisher et al., (2000: Pg. 115) maintains that retailing’s formula for perfection is offering the right product in the right place at the right time for the right price. This is no easy feat for the retailer and with merchandising decisions becoming more complex, the penalties for errors too are even steeper, (Friend and Walker, 2001: Pg. 133). This is why Gordon et al.,(2006: Pg.24) notes that in today’s cutthroat market, there is no place for a ‘head in the sand’ attitude. The importance of the areas of ‘retailing’s formula for perfection’ as stated by Fisher et al., (2000) will now be examined theoretically and subsequently researched in the context of a successful, independent fashion boutique, Emporium Kalu.
‘Retailers capture their customers’ interest by the nature of their product range’, (Varley, 2006: Pg. 8). Fashion markets have become increasingly complex with consumers fragmenting into small groups who have very different needs and demand very different products. Varley, (2006: Pg. 8), maintains that product helps to position a retailer against it’s competitors within a given market, but problem many companies today face is that they sell very similar products and services to those of their competitors, (Ingenhoff et al., 2010:83). Therefore, tremendous pressure is put on retailers to offer the customer something different, (Dvorak et al., 1996: Pg. 121). In making product decisions for individual stores, buyers and retail managers have long relied on instinct, (Friend and Walker, 2001: Pg. 133) but in today’s marketplace many more factors need to be considered. What is at the core of the ‘right’ product is the retailer’s target market, they need to be given a good reason to choose one retailer over another, (Varley, 2006: Pg. 8). Four major trends which affect the consumer’s choice of product have been emerging in recent times. Since the consumer is at the core of what the ‘right’ product is, the retailer must pay attention to these trends and how they relate to their target customer. 1. The Savvy Consumer
Whether you are a value fashion retailer or a high end department store, it is necessary to acknowledge that today, the consumer is more tuned in to the latest trends and styles in the fashion industry. Consumers have become more savvy about fashion as they can now access information about various fashion events around the world almost immediately through internet media like blogging, video sharing and podcasts. An increased number of weekly glossies, e.g. Grazia, also fuels this consumer demand for the latest look at a faster pace (Barnes, 2006:260). The consumer now knows what ‘should’ be in-store and retailers will suffer if they cannot provide this to their customers when they expect it. 2. Celebrity power
Many Irish consumers find their fashion influenced a great deal by celebrities, with this being the most likely facet of their lives to be influenced by celebrity culture, (Mintel, Clothing Retailing-Ireland, 2011). Star style has never been...