In the course of doing business at the intersection of fashion and analytics, we get a lot of great questions. In fact, a lot of them are more common amongst those working in fashion retail than you would expect. So today we want to share some of the common questions we receive and the answers we share to demystify the whole data analytics thing.
Where Do We Get Our Data From?
First off, the initial questions that everyone new to StyleSage asks are, "Where do we get our data from? Is it accurate and representative of what is happening in stores?"
How it works is that we crawl the e-commerce sites of thousands of retailers using image recognition and machine-learning - pretty complex technology, but it’s incredibly powerful and easy to use because it retrieves information from millions of keywords and images everyday and it's all brought together in one place for you. All this information retrieved by our bots is then classified according to a fashion taxonomy of attributes and categories. As far as accuracy goes, we completely understand that retailers have to be able to trust our data, because strategic business decisions are made on it. This is why we audit our information daily, not to mention that all of our information is linked back to every single product page it was obtained from.
Lastly, as far as prices online being different from in-store, a MIT study found that three-quarters of the time prices are similar between online and in-store, and they were especially closest when it came to the apparel category.
What's the Deal with Holiday Discounting?
Another commonly asked question is around discounting, specifically,"How does the sales landscape look during holiday periods?" The most recent one was the Fourth of July sale, so questions regarding sales leading up to July 4th and average discount penetration were quite common. A statistic we like to use is called discount penetration, or what proportion of items in the assortment are on sale.
According to this graph, there was not much of a spike in discounting leading up to and during the July 4th weekend, rather, the amount of inventory on discount started creeping up earlier, in mid-May.
The next chart covers average percentage off - or how high the average discounts were. And here you can see the discounts were more evident, where retailers stepped up their percentage discount for items already on sale, reaching an average discount of nearly 50% off during the holiday weekend.
Back-to-school season will be the next upcoming sales period, so we’ll be sure to keep you guys updated on how that unfolds.
What’s In Right Now?
Even though we don't have a crystal ball, our data does tell us a whole lot about the state of different trends. The people who use our trend tools know this, from our trend reports covering consumer search interest, tracking key influencers, and analyzing the data from first mover retailers.
Here are some of the summer trends we’ve written about just last week - centered around stylish and comfy wear, such as flowy jumpsuits and loungewear sets. We also write about influencer collaborations with brands, because many influencers set the tone (or rather, in the case of Aimee Song’s collaboration with Revolve, set the song) for rising fashion trends.
And, we also have a very special new product release coming in a few weeks that is going to take your trend forecasting to the next level. Watch this space for the announcement!
Using data, we see that flowy jumpsuits are indeed on the rise since January, with a notable increase of about 8 percentage points since in June 2019.
What Are My Competitors Doing?
Moving along, almost all of the questions we get asked by our clients belies the underlying question of competitiveness: Is my pricing and assortment competitive? Are my competitors undercutting me? Am I catering to my target audience?
What retailers can do for preliminary competitive research typically involves a competitor landscape chart of some kind, either a SWOT analysis, or competitive shopping (see our article on comp shopping) in real-life. These help you to narrow down your competitors, and better understand their respective brand mission and target audience.
The next step, naturally, is to look more in-depth into your competitors’ pricing and what they carry in their stores for their range of assortment. In other words, the number crunching, typically seen as less exciting. But fret not, we have loads of charts to help you make sense of that without you ever needing to step foot into a physical store. Take a look at our teen market report for a sense of what we do on a daily basis.
Taking a step further, we also have product matching capabilities, which enable you to match the exact product in one website to another. For example, want to know if a particular Rag & Bone skinny jean is available at both Saks’ Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s? We have that information, as well as how much each retailer is pricing them for. Even when there's different pictures and descriptions. (Side note: we may at times use this for our own shopping purposes.)
Which Are My Competitors’ Bestsellers?
One key question that always comes up from our clients is, "What are my competitors' key value items?" Key value items are those that bring in the highest profit margins, and sell out the fastest. Through a simple procedure of detecting size availability and the apparel’s first seen date, we’re able to sort that one out in a matter of seconds. No more camping out at your competitors’ stores or websites - and you can always pull up historical data to see how that key item has performed over time.
Intrigued and want to learn more? Learn all about our solutions here.