Written by Kelly van der Kwast, Head of HATCH. 12-03-2020
Why fashion needs to consider digitizing the wholesale selling experience
In an age where you can literally buy any product online, why can’t fashion brands conduct their wholesale sales digitally? When the idea was first floated at Tommy Hilfiger to build a digital showroom, most people’s first reaction was; say what now?! Still, the need was there: to digitize the wholesale selling experience.
The fashion value chain is broken, littered with cumbersome analog processes and time consuming steps. From 2D design sketching, endless reviews, producing and shipping samples to sell to third parties and finally getting the right items on the shop floor – it is clear that there is tons of room for optimization to help brands get better product to the consumers in a smarter, faster way. And this is where the magic of digital and transformation comes in.
Digitizing the wholesale selling experience
But where do you start, if you want to digitize the fashion value chain? Well, you could start in the middle by digitizing the wholesale selling experience. At least, that’s what our first customer Tommy Hilfiger did.
HATCH realized quickly that you cannot capture the value of digitizing wholesale in powerpoint or in a business case. This kind of innovation required such a fundamental transformation for wholesale sales, that the potential solution had to be prototyped together with the sales users. Through many iterations, HATCH quickly learned that wholesale sales teams could do their jobs digitally in even better, smarter, faster ways.
After some pleasant, as well as not so pleasant conversations (after all, which human really likes change?), we discovered that there was real value to be gained from digital selling: fewer samples were possible, meaning teams didn’t have to wait for shipments to arrive in heavy cardboard boxes or fight over products. Sales could see more buyers, in less time and buyers were more confident when deciding on their assortments.
Along the way, this transformation and digitization of wholesale sales also unexpectedly positioned the digital showroom as a catalyst for other areas of innovation for not only Tommy Hilfiger but also other PVH brands such as Calvin Klein: from STITCH working on 3D garment creation, to supply chain transformation, to leveraging data in decision making. Now innovation could cascade through the organization and shine a light into the dark corners of the fashion value chain closet.
So what can the Digital Showroom do for the wider fashion industry?
The big play is: HATCH wants to change the fashion industry for good. And we aim to do that brand by brand. Because the more brands join on this digitization journey, the better we all get and the whole industry can level up. The little play is that if your retail buyer sees an amazing digital sell-in experience everywhere, digital selling becomes the norm and will be accepted much faster. And there’s more:
Like, more sustainable
In a world that is becoming increasingly aware of the impact that fashion has on the environment, we can definitely improve on our footprint. Using a digital showroom reduces the need for samples on the floor; these in turn don’t need to be produced, shipped and afterwards be thrown away. Yay for greener value chains!
And more innovative
We know that with a vision, the right technology and loads of dedication to the users, it is possible to change the status quo, no matter how long standing certain processes have been in the fashion industry. This was proven at Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. The Digital Showroom has been a true catalyst for them, opening up minds to wider digital transformation in other areas of their value chain. That means: more learning, more improvement, more value. And HATCH is confident that this can be the case for other fashion brands too.
Allowing fashion to become more future proof
We know the world is changing. And changing fast. Gosh you must be tired of that sentence. The thing is, it’s true. And it’s really true for traditional fashion brands that have serious competition from digital, direct to consumer players. This means we need to either change, adapt or we die. Sorry for the bummer, guys. The digital showroom is the start of a journey. And it’s a journey we must all take together. The good thing is, HATCH learned a lot on the way and we are there to help you take this courageous step!