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Revolutionising Fashion Retail: The Power of Third-Party Brands in Assortment Planning

Staying up to date with what consumers want is a constant challenge in the fashion retail industry. The competition for control of the market is intense, especially with Amazon changing how people shop.

Fast-fashion retailers are making changes to stay relevant and compelling. They are integrating third-party brands into their assortment planning.
Selecting a collection of products is crucial for retail. It's called assortment planning.

To do it well, you need to analyse the market, know what customers want, and be creative.

Zara and H&M, popular fast-fashion brands, usually sell their own trendy clothes quickly.

However, the traditional way of planning product selection is changing dramatically because people want more options and personalisation.

Fast-fashion retailers are making a bold and strategic shift by including other brands in their playbook.

In this article, we will explore how this revolution is changing the way we plan product assortments, enhancing the shopping experience, and transforming brand identities.
Diversifying the Assortment Plan

Traditionally, fast-fashion retailers have relied on their in-house collections to attract shoppers. But now, in a market that values diversity and uniqueness, a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer enough.

By introducing third-party brands into their assortment plans, retailers like Zara and H&M are broadening their product offerings to cater to a wider audience. Diversifying brings in new customers and makes existing ones enjoy shopping more.

In retail, assortment planning means choosing products to sell to customers. It's about curating a collection that appeals to the target market, aligns with the brand's image, and drives profitability.
Fast-fashion brands such as Zara and H&M usually depend on their own collections.

These collections are made quickly and follow the latest trends. But there are limits to this approach, especially in a market where people want to be unique.

The assortment plan is the backbone of a retailer's merchandising strategy. When deciding what to sell, it's important to consider customer demands, maximise sales, and optimise inventory.

Traditional fast-fashion retailers are facing more competition and have to adapt to changes in the market. This is because of the growth of e-commerce and shifts in what consumers want.
Elevating Brand Image

Fast-fashion brands have sometimes been associated with disposable fashion and lower price points. However, by collaborating with established third-party brands, they can change this perception. These partnerships help them display high-quality, special items and improve their brand image. It's a way to tell consumers that they can find not only affordable but also premium fashion under the same roof.

In the fashion industry, brand image is everything. It's how consumers perceive a brand, and it often dictates their purchasing decisions. Fast-fashion brands are affordable and trendy, but some people think they are not as careful about quality as luxury brands. This is where third-party brand collaborations come into play.

When a popular clothing store teams up with a famous brand, it gains more trust from customers. It tells consumers that this retailer is serious about offering quality and style, not just affordability. When H&M partners with luxury brands like Alexander Wang or Versace, it creates excitement and attracts fashion lovers who may not have thought of H&M for high-end fashion. These collaborations are not just about selling products; they're about reshaping brand perception.

In addition, including sustainable and ethical brands can also enhance brand image. Fast-fashion retailers can improve their image by partnering with responsible sourcing and production organisations, addressing concerns about the industry's impact on the environment and labour practices.

Consumer Data and Trends

Including other brands is not just about adding more products, it's also about keeping up with new trends.

Fast-fashion retailers are increasingly relying on data-driven insights to make informed assortment planning decisions. Including external brands helps them learn about consumer data and market trends.

This data, in turn, informs future product development, ensuring they remain fashion-forward.
In the age of big data, understanding consumer behaviour and preferences is paramount. Fast-fashion retailers are no exception. They need to know what styles, colours, and designs are resonating with their target audience.

In the past, they used sales data and trend forecasting to plan assortments. Now, with third-party brands, it's even better.

When a fast-fashion retailer partners with an external brand, it gains access to that brand's customer data and insights. This can give us important details about what customers want, how they shop, and what brands they like. For example, if a retailer partners with a third-party athletic wear brand and sees a surge in sales of workout clothing, it's a clear indicator of a fitness trend among their customers.

With this data, the retailer can adjust its assortment plan to meet the demand. They can expand their own activewear line or collaborate with athletic brands.

Additionally, external brands often bring their own trendsetting expertise to the table. They know their niche markets well and can bring new ideas and styles that fast-fashion retailers may not have considered.

This cross-pollination of ideas and trends can keep the retailer's product offerings on the cutting edge of fashion.
Struggling with assortment planning?
Discover how by scrutinising sales data and trend insights you can handpick the perfect blend of products for your customers.
Challenges in Attracting Brands

Introducing third-party brands has benefits, but there are also challenges. Some brands may choose not to join fast-fashion platforms due to concerns about worker treatment and the environment. To convince brands to join, it's important to address their concerns and show commitment to sustainability and ethics.

The fashion industry has long been under scrutiny for its environmental impact and labour practices. The fashion industry uses too many resources and exploits workers, raising concerns about sustainability and ethics. Fast-fashion retailers, in particular, have faced criticism for their role in perpetuating these issues.

This poses a challenge when fast-fashion retailers seek to partner with third-party brands. Well-known brands, especially those focused on sustainability and ethics, might hesitate to be associated with a retailer known for harmful fast fashion practices. They don't want their brand image tarnished by association.
Overcoming Challenges in Attracting Brands: Strategies for Fast-Fashion Retailers
Transparent Sourcing
Clearly communicate their sourcing practices, including efforts to use sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing processes.
Obtain certifications that demonstrate a commitment to responsible practices, such as Fair Trade or sustainable fashion certifications.
Collaborative Agreements
Work closely with third-party brands to ensure that their products meet the same ethical and sustainability standards.
Educational Initiatives
Engage in educational campaigns to inform consumers about their efforts to improve in these areas.
Investing in Sustainability
Allocate resources to research and development for sustainable materials and processes.
Highlighting Positive Impact
Showcase the positive impacts of their sustainability initiatives, such as reduced carbon emissions or fair wages for workers.

Fast-fashion stores must take action to address these concerns and show they are committed to change. They can attract ethical and sustainable brands. This will enhance their image and appeal to conscious consumers.

Fast-fashion retailers can diversify their offerings by integrating third-party brands into assortment planning.

This helps them attract new customers, elevate brand images, and stay ahead of fashion trends.

To encourage brands to work together and create a responsible fashion industry, it's important to address sustainability and ethical concerns.
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