“What If You Are a Retailer Thinking of Just a Few Collections a Year?”

Or a brand for that matter.  Please find 13 minutes to watch this Ted Talk on the evolution of retail in China.  If you can’t do that, at least read the transcript in six minutes or so.

The trends she discusses are enabled by the fact that 90% of online sales are controlled by two companies in the Chinese market.  She tells us what is happening right now in China.  This is not about a possible future- it’s about how the Chinese retail market is operating right now.

Everything she highlights you are already seeing in your country, though the scale and rate of expansion is probably less.  Is this the future for your market?  Are there cultural or structural differences that might restrict it or, more likely, make it different?  Sure.  Probably.  I guess.

Next, you might check out this New York Times article on how Amazon is facilitating the emergence of cheap, high quality consumer devices.  It’s focused on electronics, but it’s worth considering how your product might be impacted.  Or maybe how it might benefit?

Both offerings tell us how market forces are driving a better deal for the completely in control consumer.  Both also give us some insights into how brands and retailers are eviscerating their traditional business practices to satisfy those consumers but still be able to earn a profit.

4 replies
  1. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    Referencing the Ted Talk: I don’t see how companies making a couple dozen units at a time (with customization) can get very far, it sounds impossible to scale. But I’m not surprised that’s what the consumers want. Expectations are so high these days. At what point will trends hit faster than the product can be produced to support them? And how scary is that for the environment, with fast fashion being one of the biggest sources of pollution in our world?

    Thanks for more great content. I have a favorite video of my 1.5 year old daughter shouting “Akexa, pay Owana,” at an Alexa device over and over again. The video was taken the very week she put her first complete sentences together. At 1.5 years old she already had the expectation that shouting at a device should immediately produce the music she wanted to hear… “Alexa, play Moana (soundtrack).”

    As a father I was entertained. As a merchant, I was blown away at how early this consumer expectation had formed in my daughter’s mind.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Charlie,
      I don’t see how they do it either, but I guess they do. Perhaps it has something to do with a different culture, wage structure, and the fact that the factories are sitting there. Or maybe it’s the new instant printing machines for apparel?

      One and a Half!?!?!?!? I wonder what her expectations are going to be in a few years. Not exactly learning patience.

      See you next week.

  2. Oldactionsportjock
    Oldactionsportjock says:

    I know this is all progress and the next phase in revenue growth, but it’s the death of ‘brand’, striving for a nice equilibrium is meaningless moving forward. It’s all very depressing.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Old,
      Certainly for the moment, the perfect information of the consumer and the ease (at least in our industry) of starting a brand means the pendulum has swung against brands and branding. Doesn’t mean it’s impossible or wrong- just harder. At the end of the day, in any industry and ours is worse, the lack of meaningful product differentiation is a problem. We can’t just blame the internet.

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