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Hopes are high for a strong 2005 holiday shopping season, at least according to merchants who use electronic "shopping-cart" software from LaGarde Inc. The vendor's recent survey of 100 electronic retailers suggests that the season will be a good one for online merchants. Nearly 75 percent of respondents say they are expecting higher sales, with more than 21 percent anticipating "a considerable increase" over last year, LaGarde said.
In addition, merchants deploying LaGarde's StoreFront product are expecting the online holiday season to start earlier than the traditional store shopping season. More than 25 percent believe their surge begins in August or September, while more than 60 percent peg the beginning of the holiday rush at before Nov. 1. October has the highest monthly spend rate among respondents, reports LaGarde.
Meanwhile, in traditional "brick-and-mortar" stores, the whole concept of seasonal retailing could be on the verge of big change. Retailers are moving toward a monthly revamping of their sales floors, to meet customer demand for new merchandise, according to Bob McKee, fashion industry solutions director of software and services vendor Intentia Americas. Some merchandisers are changing their floor mixes as frequently as 24 times a year in order to gain a competitive edge, he says. That's a sharp departure from fashion retailers' old practice of purchasing new collections four times a year for women, and twice yearly for men.
The trend places new demands on retail supply chains. Retailers and manufacturers need to increase collaboration through the sharing of real-time information, McKee says. Manufacturers need to know when a new fashion collection is finalized and ready for production. And they must manage inventory according to ever-evolving forecasts, while timing deliveries to coincide with production cycles.
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