The Dressing Room Effect: Brick-and-Mortar Apparel Retail is Here to Stay

We’ve mentioned a few times recently on The Apparel Logistics Group blog that – while the overall health of retail in America is recovering from the Great Recession quite nicely – the same can’t be said for physical retail stores.

Most notoriously, this trend has been embodied by Best Buy. Think about just how much music and movies you now buy via iTunes, Amazon or Netflix – and then think about all those rows and rows music and movies in those thousands of big box stores that are now lonely, empty, and unnecessary. Naturally, Best Buy is facing big problems.

Apparel Industry Trends

The apparel industry, however, is apparently much more resilient to this trend.

According to RetailSales and Asymco, in terms of sales per square foot, nine of the top 20 physical retail stores in the nation are apparel companies. Two more (Sam’s Club and Costco) also sell significant amounts of apparel.


This diversion from physical retail’s overall sinking-ship trend makes sense: People “try on” electronics or books or movies (or the majority of anything else bought on the wild world of the web) by reading product reviews and user ratings. More often than not, clothes shoppers still prefer to “try on” new outfits in front of a dressing room mirror. Thus, apparel will do better in physical retail stores than other products.

Apparel E-commerce is Growing

Still, apparel e-commerce is big, big business. And it’s growing.

This highlights the importance of two fashion logistics factors – supply chain flexibility and apparel IT capabilities. You need to be fast. You need to embrace these market shifts. You need to be able to meet the unique challenges and demands of apparel e-commerce (such as apparel distribution and inventory control). And you still need to be able to deliver to traditional brick and mortar stores (meeting the unique supply chain demands that traditional retail creates) as well.

Apparel Supply Chain Challenges

So here’s the challenge for apparel supply chain management: Embrace the future. Don’t forget the past. Be ready for industry-changing shifts like the rise of e-commerce and work hard to stay on the cutting edge. But also realize that more than most industries, the old way of doing apparel retail still applies.

The supply chain logistics mission for apparel companies hasn’t changed – it’s just gotten slightly more complicated and demanding. Top-quality supply chain management and fashion logistics are key.

Posted: 5/8/2012 12:32:36 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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