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Woolworths Unlocks Optimized Trade with EDITED

One of South Africa’s largest retailers, Woolworths, prides itself on delivering quality merchandise to its consumer across a range of product categories. The company offers fashion, beauty and homeware, as well as a separate grocery vertical, while maintaining a strong focus on value and innovation.
Aug 25, 2023
Woolworths Unlocks Optimized Trade with EDITED | EDITED

Woolworths also remains dedicated to sustainability with goals like ensuring all private label products are designed to be reused, repaired or recycled by 2025 – a key point of differentiation within their market.

Woolworths’ focus has been gaining and retaining market share within the South African market across what it has deemed “must-win” categories spanning womenswear, menswear, home, kidswear and lingerie departments. In 2022, Woolworths initiated its partnership with EDITED and implemented the platform across its pricing and promotions teams, buying and planning teams, as well as marketing teams to support the business in winning these key categories.

This partnership came at a critical moment for a retailer operating in the South African market, as consumer inflation began an upward trajectory, and the South African Rand began weakening. Despite these economic challenges, within the first year of partnership, Woolworths was able to identify over 10 opportunities where it could increase or modify its assortment ranges across multiple categories based on EDITED’s competitive intelligence.

“As a team, we are actively working to improve the profitability of our business by putting the customer at the heart of all of our decision-making. This means having the right choice for our customer, reducing over-assortment and really pushing full-price sales. We see EDITED as a key way to amplify our business across these areas” says Roxanne Gillan, GM of Business Development and Innovation.

Winning the Day with EDITED

Since the start of the Woolworths partnership, the business has taken several actions based on EDITED’s insights that have resulted in more successful trading.

Lilize Diener, Senior Buyer at Woolworths, shares how EDITED transforms the way they work: “Prior to EDITED, a comp shop would have taken our buyers at least half a day to conduct. Using EDITED’s dashboards though, we’ve been able to cut down on the amount of time needed to conduct a comp shop by 50%.” The impact of time saved across teams means that now, buyers can actually focus on trade daily, and are equipped to make decisions quickly and effectively by using the data that’s already available, rather than spending their time collecting it.

Lilize explained that, furthermore, “It [EDITED] really identifies the gaps in our assortment. EDITED has an overall view of the market, so we’re able to look at the full picture of what’s happening. If we did the same process manually, we’d miss things only going retailer by retailer.”

Before EDITED, not only was the process manual, but data was limited. Teams only received retail market insights twice a year, and analysis was run post-seasonally, rather than throughout the entire product lifecycle. Further, team members didn’t have access to insights on all their must-win categories and were limited to apparel-level data only.

One place EDITED helped Woolworths identify a winning opportunity was in their homeware category. “We were analyzing a category in our homeware department, and for one product, we discovered we could add several options in a higher price bracket, based on where the rest of the market was sitting,” explained Lilize. This decision alone represented a significant revenue increase opportunity, and meant the business was able to shift pricing on 29% of this category’s assortment by 110%.

In another case, Woolworths avoided a potentially considerable loss in revenue by deciding against buying into a particular accessory for its upcoming seasonal accessories line. The team had initially ordered samples of the item, but after using EDITED’s global data, one buyer identified that a similar style was performing very poorly in the UK market. With EDITED, buyers could identify that this style was brought into the market, and then promptly discounted within just two weeks of landing.

It’s insights like this that have enabled the team to make swift decisions with a positive impact on the business’s profitability. “In the past, it would have taken a lot longer to come to those sorts of conclusions about a product, because we would have spent so much time building the analysis. You might have seen a one-off price change at a competitor and think, ‘I need to drop my price,’ but you’re not really 100% sure if that's the right move. EDITED provides the quantitative data to say this is the right move and gives us the confidence to then take the action.” says Lilize.

A Solution for the Entire Merchandising Lifecycle

Woolworths attributes its success to integrating EDITED and aligning its key business objectives to the pain points EDITED’s platform solves. In addition to growing market share of its must-win categories, the business also seeks to increase its full-price sales and improve the profitability of its markdown and promotional activities. The Woolworths team found that the easiest way to implement EDITED was to align key activities teams were already doing in their day-to-day with specific analysis views within EDITED.

Roxanne Gillan explains, “We are constantly looking for any opportunity to improve our returns, this means having the right range (product & price) for our customers at the right time, in the right location at the right quantities. We see EDITED as a crucial lever in this process to identify the correct trends, identify the sweet spot for prices on particularly our must-win categories and reshape their ranges either pre-season or in-season.”

Before every key buying event, teams have a department strategy review where there are clear guidelines on what analyses and reports should be pulled using EDITED. The teams look specifically at the local South African market and focus on analyzing pricing architecture and options charts to begin building a strategy for the upcoming season.

From there, the team begins its range review and leverages UK retail data to analyze what’s taken place in overseas markets over the past season. For instance, a footwear buyer will build a report on sandals in the UK market, and break it out by colors to first identify what colors are trending up vs down. Then, they will break out the analysis by silhouettes to determine how, for example, block heels vs kitten heels performed. This process gets replicated across the category teams.

Woolworths says the addition of UK data has been crucial to its pursuit of remaining customer focused. By looking ahead at trends coming from the Northern Hemisphere, Woolworths has been able to remain agile in its assortment strategy. In one instance, teams were able to rebalance their scarf assortment, while in another, they bought into the popular ‘Johnny Collar’ style of shirt after seeing how well it was performing both abroad and in their home market.

After running the UK analysis, the team then moves on to sense-checking the local market in terms of pricing. With inflation being a big concern for the South African market, Woolworths has been able to analyze how its local competitors have handled the challenge and make strategic decisions about where and when to shift pricing to remain customer-centric.

Finally, as Woolworths’ teams move into the trading season, they are able to leverage EDITED’s market research analysis to monitor emerging trends that may be bubbling up globally, as well as stay laser-focused on the local market. 

Sonia Battista, GM of women's outerwear, footwear and accessories, sums up the power of EDITED: “Amidst the rapid evolution of customer preferences, EDITED is a crucial tool for our business. It is an integral part of our decision-making process that we leverage to match the ever-changing customer needs. We rely on EDITED to ensure that our assortment remains relevant to our customers.”