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Oct 12, 2009

Happiness is ... being in stock

Tree of Life, East Gardens. I like the fresh approach of Tree of Life, selling ethnic and colourful fashion and lifestyle items. This window illustrates a typical retail dilemma. A few weeks ago they ran a promotion for a white dress, which looked stunning in the window (see post here http://shoppologist.blogspot.com/2009/09/crisp.html ). At the time they applied a decal to the window stating 'Happiness is a white dress'.

So, it was interesting to see the decal still up with a not-so-white dress in the window (see pic). Hmmm, confusing to say the least. A quick glance inside the store showed they still had about three white dresses on the rack - which means being out of stock of some (probably most popular) sizes. Being a national chain, the level of stock is likely to have varied significantly across the store network. If they were expecting more white dresses in (ie. a repeat), it probably made sense to leave the decal up. If they had put the white dress in the window with only three items left (in this particular store), they might have frustrated shoppers interested in the dress. If this is the case, then they probably underestimated the sell-through rate of the dress - a common problem in fashion, suggesting an issue with their stock forecasting methodology.

Another explanation is they could simply have forgotten to remove the decal, but based on past experience that is unlikely for this switched-on retailer. Retailers would know that promoting any line longer than 2-3 weeks is a non-starter in today's market. This especially applies to seasonal lines.

So, for retailers, the moral of the story is: being in-stock of wanted lines is best, get the forecasting right, in order to avoid annoying observations like this one- oh, and get the window (decal) detail right. For shoppers the moral of the story is if you see something you really like, buy it because it is probably popular and won't be there when you return :)

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