In the first part of the interview, Sandra Repking from SR Fashion Concept told us a lot about the work in purchasing, how to stay on track with trends and how to react flexibly to market changes. This second part is now about how tools can support this area. What can they help with? What information can they provide? How do they make work easier?
Purchasing expert Sandra Repking talks about all this and gives tips on how to work particularly well with tools.
Dear Sandra, how are competitive analyses usually carried out in the fashion industry?
Sandra Repking: I don’t think there’s a huge difference between this and other industries. The big question is: Who is actually my competitor? It’s not just the shop that has exactly the same product range as me. It might also be the supermarket around the corner, which is currently addressing my target group with a campaign. But you can’t always keep an eye on everyone. You have to focus.
You have to distinguish between market observation and competitive analysis. In the case of the market, I observe: Where is it heading? What do customers want? How is the product range developing? How are trends developing? In competitive analysis, I look at the details: What does my competitor do better, where is he more likely to pick up the customer we have in common?
I can do competitive analysis in the traditional way. I can go to the stores, I can surf the Internet and just look around. Then I select certain parameters that I want to look at specifically, for example, how the goods are presented, what the service is like.
When visiting stores, it’s good not to look through the competitor’s eyes, but from the customer’s perspective. After all, that’s not just the case in the fashion industry. And of course I can use tools that make my analysis faster and more convenient. It’s like having a toolbox: I can take the screwdriver, or I can use the cordless screwdriver. With a competitive tool like OnSight, I can save myself a lot of work.
Watching and counting articles takes a lot of time. I can save that time with a tool. Because I already get ready-made analyses, for example, of the price ranges offered by the competitor or the composition of the product range. This is handy, because I can now use this time to think about solutions and new approaches to the product range. Such tools are wonderfully suited to provide me with a base of information on which I can then build my solution.
Has the importance of competitive analysis changed in recent years/months?
Online has become a much stronger topic. That means my competitors have become much more. Also more accessible to the customer. For example, it used to be that in a small town, all you had as a competitor was the boutique next door or the bridal fashion store three streets down. But nowadays, every customer has access to all kinds of stores.
Now I have to find out which of them is really my competitor. Tools like OnSight also help with this analysis. If you were to research and analyze them all by hand, you would need a few people to do it. Because it’s important to know what’s going on outside, to know the market prices, for example. What offers is my customer getting? If I know about it, I can respond to it.
What information that you can get from OnSight is particularly important to you?
Information such as: What price ranges does the competitor offer in different categories? Which colors, shapes, themes does he particularly highlight? How is its product range structured? Are there any news or perhaps promotions that the tool can inform me about?
What tips do you have for someone using a competitive analysis tool for purchasing?
I think for using the tool, first and foremost, it’s important to realize that it doesn’t replace my job. I think some people fear it will make them redundant. Because in the past, of course, everything was analyzed manually. I have to realize that a tool like this is actually like an employee who works for me. I can use such tools to help me do my job well. They support me and give me guidance to make decisions. But, they don’t do my job. I should think about and set the parameters for what I actually want to know about the market or my competitor. And then I let the tool analyze that.
Such a tool provides a whole lot of information, and so some are almost overwhelmed with what it can do. But if I have determined how it can help me, then I should just use it. It’s like Excel, it’s much better at doing things than my calculator, but I don’t need to understand every mini-detail of this software. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to try to get rid of the shyness. Be open and give the tool tasks – then it helps me and supports me.
Thank you, dear Sandra for your detailed and insightful answers. It was a pleasure to talk to you!