Case Study

How PrettyLittleThing uses EDITED to stay faster than fast fashion

  • Over the last four years PrettyLittleThing has accomplished more than similar brands do in ten. And if you ask CEO and Managing Director, Umar Kamani, how they’ve done it – he’ll condense it into three words, “We work hard.”

    There’s no shortage of evidence to support it. According to Drapers, PrettyLittleThing, the Manchester-based fast fashion e-tailer, increased gross sales by 500% to £30 million in 2015 alone, and it hasn’t slowed down since. In March of 2016, the company launched in Australia, a US launch followed in July and by August its workforce had grown by more than 300% over the previous year.

    Despite the speed-of-light expansion, Umar, a third generation fashion retailer, stresses that PrettyLittleThing is carefully pacing its growth in the US and UK in order to maintain the quality of its customer experience and grow its product range strategically.

    “Data is very important in fast fashion. And very important for PrettyLittleThing.”

    “We’re trying to take things stage by stage,” says Umar. “Controlled growth is very important to us. Right now we’re focusing heavily on broadening our product range. That’s where EDITED comes in, making sure we’re giving the customer exactly what they want and what they’re looking for.”

    But in the midst of all that, PrettyLittleThing’s attention hasn’t strayed from the diamond at the center of its business model: the ability to spot new trends in their nascent stage and move on them fast. A survival skill in fast fashion, and one made stronger with access to real time data.

    “Kylie Jenner might wear a turquoise bra this morning and that might suddenly be a new thing. You have to jump on these things very quickly. So data that comes in instantly is obviously very important,” says Umar. “Speed and price are the two most important parts of this business. It’s important we don’t move off track on that.”

    And to help keep the company on that track, its buying and merchandising teams use EDITED.

    “We all have opinions and those opinions only take us so far. But without the data you don’t have any real facts.”

     

    Never fast. Always Fastest.

    “EDITED has become a really vital tool for us. It helps us work better together as a team.”

    Leanne Holmes
    Head of Merchandising at PrettyLittleThing

    “We’re a fast moving business, turning around products very, very quickly,” says Paul Curry, Head of Business Insights at PrettyLittleThing. “We move from identifying a trend to selling it within three or four weeks.”

    “If we get that wrong, if we don’t really understand the customers or if we don’t understand the products, it can be very dangerous for us.”
    Considering that PrettyLittleThing can launch as many as 200 product lines in a week, it’s a danger the company’s buying and merchandising teams are well aware of. It’s also one amplified by the breakneck speed the business runs at.

    “The hardest part of our job is that there are only 24 hours in a day. It’s not enough to do all the analysis that we need to. EDITED helps us pull together all the information and data as quickly as possible to help us make the right decision,” says Leanne Holmes, Head of Merchandising at PrettyLittleThing. “Before we had EDITED we’d do competitive shops on a daily basis, it would take a lot longer and it wasn’t as reliable as what we get from EDITED. And obviously not as in-depth.”

    “EDITED also helps us trade quicker. Being a fast fashion company that’s what we’re all about. The data backs up our stats and helps us make confident decisions. Whether that might be to increase a range, launch a range sooner or mark something down if the trend is slowing down.”
    Since those decisions aren’t made in isolation either, EDITED makes it easy to share data across teams and departments, getting everyone on the same page quickly, enhancing the collaborative process and helping to decide on the best solution faster.

    “Merchandisers use EDITED as an analytical tool and will present to Buying if we feel we’re missing a trend, or if we might be light on certain categories or areas. Then we’ll come up with an action as to whether we chase in a certain trend of a line as a priority,” says Leanne.
    “It’s helped us to create our critical path by analyzing who was launching what trends and events last year to ensure we’re launching our stock at the right time. If we didn’t have EDITED now… I don’t know. We’d have to go back to the old school way, and it would be really time consuming. It’s made a big impact.”

    It’s also had big impact in how effectively teams can keep a closer eye on the promotional tactics of their competitors, be it on their websites or in newsletters. The second a competitor launches anything, they can spot it and move.

    “Obviously if we don’t have that information we can’t react to it,” says Paul.

    “It’s very important to have real time data. We can react very, very quickly. We have other tools that allow us to change the site, to change banners on the site, to change prices on the site quickly, but obviously we wouldn’t do that unless we had live data and live information.”

    “The data gives us actual facts and proof.”
    Umar Kamani
    Founder and CEO of PrettyLittleThing
    Growing at Home, and Around the Globe

    “It’s capturing those gaps in the market, taking on retailers like Topshop and Zara and seeing their ranges. We use EDITED to make sure we fill the gaps.”

    Umar Kamani
    Founder and CEO of PrettyLittleThing

    “Our core product range is super solid. We offer amazing fashion at amazing prices, but what we need to do now to attract more customers is to broaden our product range. That’s where EDITED plays a massive part,” says Umar.
    “Seeing how many styles are coming in each week at your competitors and knowing what products and colors they’re bringing in. It also shows us where the gaps are.”

    And considering the PrettyLittleThing growth strategy favors tailoring its assortment to local markets over national ones, they’ve got more gaps to look out for, in more markets.

    “In Los Angeles you’ll be in shorts and in New York you’ll be in a big puffer jacket. We’re not just taking America as “America”. So it’s important to know what we need to capture the market in LA. And what we need in NY. In that sense EDITED gives us massive insight,” says Umar.
    The reasons why are almost self-evident. Know your market, and you’ll know what to do next.

    “EDITED helps us to understand our range, and where we sit versus our competition”

    Leanne Holmes
    Head of Merchandising at PrettyLittleThing

    “If we don’t know what our competitors are selling, their prices points, what promotions they have at any particular point in time, then we’re unaware of things that are outside of our control,” says Paul, Head of Business Insights. “What EDITED offers is really very important to understand the competitors in the market out there.”

    “Many businesses have struggled by having too low margins, or because they haven’t identified the trends or the customers properly, and they don’t really understand the business. That’s predominantly due to a lack of data and not having the right information at hand at the right time.”
    PrettyLittleThing knows what it’s good at and with EDITED it’s only getting better, faster and more perceptive. It’s a powerful combination. So powerful, in fact, that when Umar says, “We live very much in the moment and we take what we see and we work fast at it. You see it today, we’ll have it next week.” You know it’s for real.

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