Of all the major high street retailers in the United Kingdom, none are bigger or more ubiquitous than the combined collection of brands owned and operated by the British multinational retailing group Arcadia. Comprised of brands including Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Burton and Miss Selfridge, Arcadia operates more than 2,500 stores and concessions in the UK, and hundreds more across the globe.
Yet, when you ask Dorothy Perkins’ Merchandise Director Sion Parry what the hardest part of his job is, his answer reminds you that in this business there is no such thing as resting on your laurels, no matter how many or how illustrious they are.
“We operate in a highly competitive market, and our customers are very price conscious. The hardest thing for us is getting the right product at the right time, at the right place at the right price in the right store”, says Sion.
That’s why Arcadia uses EDITED in unison with its instinct and expertise to spot key commercial opportunities and support decisions at every level.
From strategic long-term planning to daily trading
“We use the information from EDITED in two ways”, says Sion. “We use it in a strategy approach, in terms of planning the season ahead. And we use it in the trading role. So in the daily or weekly process, looking at what’s working.”
It’s a formula with a clear metric to evaluate it by: sales. And considering what Arcadia has done and continues to do year-over-year — it’s working.
“Retail decisions are about maximising the opportunity and minimising the risk. We use EDITED to make sure that we’re making an informed decision.”
Merchandise Director at Dorothy Perkins
Sign off with confidence
For Burton Assistant Buyer, Katie Murch, EDITED helps build airtight ranges season after season by giving her a deeper understanding of her category’s trajectory based on real sales trends, top moving products, pricing and historical movement.
“When making a buying recommendation, you need to have a lot of information on why you’d want to buy that product. EDITED gives us support when signing off the range.”
Assistant Buyer at Burton
“It’s important to know what your competitors are doing to make sure that your range is right for your customer. You have the right product and the right price architecture. So, having all that data available is really great”, she says. “You have a sign off every month and you’re obviously doing that quite far ahead because you’re in fashion, with long lead-times. That’s where EDITED can be really helpful, because we can look at what was going on last spring or summer. Look at what’s selling now versus what was selling then. Look at what we bought volume on and decide if we want to buy the same volume again. So yeah, it’s all about building that range.”
Similarly, at Wallis, junior buyer Nicola Hancock uses EDITED to keep an eye on her competitors’ assortments and compares them, based on commercial performance, to Wallis’ newly launched lines to make future recommendations that bolster her brand’s competitive positioning.
“It’s really important for us to review that information alongside our designers to make sure that we’re covering the kind of products that we need to be. And then we can feed that back to our senior team – the head of buying and the buying director”, she says. “I use the information to check that the product we’re launching at Wallis is aligned with our competitors. If not we can use that information to develop ranges that can be bought for store.”
Another crucial element of a good range, beyond the products, is timing. Making sure products are in stores when they need to be. Not before or after. This too is something Arcadia looks to EDITED to help get right.
“I think another element of where the teams have adopted it is looking at the timing of new product launches“, says Sion. “It’s especially good for seasonal launches, like swimwear or cold weather, so we can see where the rest of the market is launching.”
Faster than fast-paced departments
For Arcadia, EDITED is equally as helpful in daily trading as it is in long-term planning. Oliva Symonds, an assistant merchandiser at Miss Selfridge, says that when she worked on leisurewear, a “really fast-paced department”, her team looked to EDITED throughout the week to stay ahead of the market and spot opportunities.
“There’s the traditional comp shop that all retailers do, but it’s quite a manual and laborious task. The great thing about EDITED is the quickness and reactivity.”
Merchandise Director at Dorothy Perkins
“We needed to know on a weekly basis if we were missing anything, or if there was anything we needed to trial. So it made me a lot more aware of what was going on in the high street. And it allowed me to help my buyer build the range and make sure that we weren’t missing anything”, she says. “If we didn’t have EDITED, everything would be a lot slower.”
Katie also uses EDITED daily to watch out for popular, fast-moving items across the market and decide whether or not it would be right for the Burton customer.
To Sion, the ability to trade with an understanding of the real-time market is one of the greatest and most immediate benefits of using EDITED.
“EDITED shows where the clustering of price points are across various brands and it makes it clear to us if we’re missing a price point or focusing too high or low.”
Assistant Merchandiser at Miss Selfridge
“If we didn’t have EDITED, I think the reactionary part of the business would feel the biggest miss. There is time to go out and do the research in the planning and strategic role but the time pressured job, that is not always easy to do.”
Monday morning trading reports delivered
And that applies to the pressures of preparing up-to-date reports for Monday meetings as much as anything. Like most trading meetings, at Monday meetings staff are expected to know where their categories are performing well, where they’re underperforming, where they sit in the market, and how those things are changing week-over-week.
With EDITED, Arcadia’s employees are able to access better, fully-comprehensive data, faster. Data that is representative of the entire market, as they define it. It also allows them to analyze that data in new ways and gain new insights. They even get all of that information in an email update and can jump straight into the strategic analysis. No more time wasted on competitors’ websites, and no more time spent worrying about blindspots.
“If there was a product doing really well and I felt that it was right for our customer, I would use EDITED when speaking to my buyer and show her all the evidence.”
Assistant Buyer at Burton
“I use EDITED every Monday when I get my email updates. Often that gives me something to look further into and dig a bit deeper. I can go into, say, boots and [see] any details we’d want to analyse — what’s been dropped in, what’s been discounted or if there have been any price changes. And I’ll bring it to a meeting, whether it’s sign off, price architecture or general trading meeting”, says Oliva Symonds, Assistant Merchandiser at Miss Selfridge. “The fact that I come in at 8 a.m., and I’ve already got everything summarised for me is really helpful. That’s something that would take hours to do.”
At the end of the day, for Arcadia, using EDITED amounts to one overarching and central benefit: making the right decision every time. So far, the results have been real, and they have been tangible.
Or as Sion might put it, they’ve helped give Arcadia more than a couple of its “proudest moments”.
“Our proudest moment is when we’ve got it right and we have a winner — and that’s absolutely having the right product at the right price.”