This is why real time data works, see what Editd did.

This article came out this week about management changes at Marks and Spencer.  IMHO, these changes are being made because the company is looking at their business no differently now than when Images-1 they looked at it in 1980.  Here is the article below.  The article below the first one was written on Editd's blog showing that if they used real time data, they would not be having to make the announcements that they had to make below. 

Marks and Spencer has made a further management change, in the wake of the reshuffle of its top team to stem the decline in its clothing business.

Merchandising director Sacha Berendji – a former executive assistant to Marc Bolland, chief executive, and his predecessor, Sir Stuart Rose – has been named retail director.

The appointment was necessary after Steve Rowe, the current retail director, was promoted to head of food in Tuesday’s reshuffle.

Retail director is a crucial role at M&S, as it carries responsibility for all of its stores and store operations.

Mr Berendji was elevated to merchandising director in March after the departure of M&S veteran Andrew Skinner, where he was responsible for stock management.

He will take up his new role in December, once new director of general merchandise John Dixon is in place and working with Belinda Earl, the former Jaeger and Debenhams chief executive who will spend two-to-three days a week in M&S as style adviser.

M&S on Tuesday announced far-reaching changes to its top management team, including the departure, as revealed in the FT, of Kate Bostock, head of all non-food at M&S.

The shake-up came after the worst trading in general merchandise in three years, driven by a sharp slowdown in womenswear.

Here is the article that Editd came out with after reading the above. 

Where it went wrong

It seems that M&S aren’t spending enough time internalising their sales and using the information they have to make good decisions. They have product success stories, but aren’t acting upon these successes in time to capitalise. A longline cardigan from the Per Una range, priced at £35 dropped on the 30th May and is now out of stock in 7 of its 8 sizes, with only one product left in that remaining size. Such a trans-seasonal and mid-range garment shouldn’t be able to sell out: why was there little investment in it? Same again with the Indigo collection pure cotton plait knit cardigan, priced again at £35 and again out of stock in just over a month in six sizes. The product had 16 customer reviews online: a really simple metric for M&S to assess where they need to reorder. Another Indigo collection jumper, this time in crochet space dye and priced at £35 is left instock in sizes 8 and 10 only, having arrived at the start of May. M&S, your £35 knitwear sells, order confidently!

It’s not just the simple stuff, trends are working too. Floral, the print story of the summer season, sold swiftly when executed well. A £25 floral print pleated dress which dropped instore on the 16th May sold out in all but one size (size 8, of which there is one left). Per Una’s floral linen blend  sleeveless dress at £45 dropped on the 25th April and the majority of sizes were sold out by mid-May. All sizes are now sold out, with no restocking having occurred.

But it seems that M&S are approaching trends without careful editing or consideration. Take the Limited Collection stripe burn out. Its luminous yellow shade ticks the neon box and shape pays homage to the dipped hem that we know has been selling so well – but selling at youth, fast-fashion retailers. The neon mini dress customer is probably not going to want to spend her £17.50 in M&S, she’s unlikely to be passing en route to pick up her salmon en croute. Nor is there anything particularly Limited about the garment that’s going to appeal to the more considered shopper, hence it having only sold out in one size (20) since arriving a month ago. M&S need to trust and apply the knowledge of their own customer, and use this to edit the trends they are being spoon-fed. Look at the data whilst picking the trends that inspire your designers and buyers!

We dug back into our commercial database to see the top sellers from M&S this time last year. Their Autograph abstract print dress at £45 sold fantastically, with the first delivery of four sizes selling out in just six days. It was subsequently restocked three times, never staying instock more than a week. So too, for the £69 Autograph prom dress, in a gorgeous painterly floral which would have been on-trend in reworked colours this season. It was online for only six days in May 2011. But where are the repeats this year? These garments worked, the sales data is there, re-do them! And then there’s little slip ups like redoing a garment which sold badly last year…The garish slash neck floral shift dress from May 2011 was priced at £29.50. By the end of June, with stock not shifting they’d slashed the price to £19. Only then did it sell. Lesson learnt? Apparently not. The strikingly similar cotton floral a-line dress currently sits in stock at £35 awaiting it’s own price slash. Look to the past and learn?

Product is the most visible and easily criticised layer of error, but dig a little deeper and you can reveal some core struggles. We looked at Marks & Spencer’s price distribution of clothing in the last quarter, then compared it to that of John Lewis and Debenhams. What we found is really interesting: M&S are pricing erratically in comparison to their competitors. A normal pattern of pricing at a high street retailer would see product spreading smoothly through price points, teasing a £20 customer into the £30 mix and giving the retailer the chance to tweak prices without customers knowing their rigid price structures. Number of products would expect to trail off around the £55 mark, but good high street retailers then return with a smattering of high quality product lines at a higher price point, offering something aspirational. We don’t see this at M&S whose pricing leaps and peters off, with very little above the £60 mark. M&S could probably do with smoothing their structure and upping their premium line investments. Not just any jumper, an M&S jumper…

We’d really love to see M&S stopping to look at the data and listening to the facts. Panic retail is uncomfortable to watch when the information is to hand.

If you were in the retail/ecommerce business, wouldn't you use be using Editd?

Comments (Archived):

  1. ellen

    Could editd be the new version of the 1960’s women’s wear daily? Before W magazine gloss, Fairchild’s wwd was the bible to the industry and very informative to a fashion loving teenager and to the professional industry.

    1. Gotham Gal

      yes, they could. there is no doubt that wwd is past its prime.

  2. johndodds

    Absolutely. I’ve spoken to a number of customers following these developments and they all mentioned stock problems. But this is a company that doesn’t seem to pay attention to detail. I wrote a blogpost last year pointing out that one of their large in-store displays features the new word evironment. Nobody seems to have noticed the typo and it’s still on show!

    1. Gotham Gal

      great story

  3. Marjan Ghara

    I know people who could really benefit from this. Thanks for sharing. Every retail business could use their own version of editd. Fabulous!

  4. Jim B

    I worked for Marks and Spencer in the UK 20 years ago in IT and Operations. At the time they were cutting edge with a massive investment in technology and one of the first retailers to intelligently leverage POS data to drive their supply chain. They seem to have suffered from too much investment in distribution efficiency and not enough in smart merchandising and marketing over the years.Editd looks like an incredible application of big data in a very inefficient industry.I now work at Nielsen in media and advertising analytics and the next piece in this retail efficiency equation is probably planning and measuring the efficiency in marketing and promotion and tieing that in to merchandising and sales. Closing the loop between marketing, merchandising and distribution looks like a huge opportunity.Would love to learn offline what Editd plans are for expansion here in the US and brainstorm ways to overlay a marketing analytics function.