London Fashion Week: Make the most of visual merchandising

It won’t be long before the globe’s biggest fashionistas are back in town to hit the catwalks of London Fashion Week. With over 5,000 industry press and buyers likely to attend, and hundreds of luxury labels showing their wares, it’s a major event not only for industry insiders, but for shoppers and fashion lovers alike. Orders placed during the week alone often exceed £100 million as consumers get inspired to experiment with fresh new looks which emerge during the shows. This offers a massive opportunity for both luxury and fast-fashion retailers when it comes to increasing sales. But making the most of it demands a carefully executed strategy which combines the best of both technological innovation and creative control.

Savvy retailers should begin by reviewing their stock inventories to identify unique sales opportunities which resonate with fashion week trend predictions and the upcoming runway shows. By browsing the LFW schedule, retailers should review their product catalogues to prioritise brands which are going to be the focus of attention during the event. If you’re a luxury retailer for example, and you stock showstopper brands like Burberry or Ports 1961, then you would want to ensure these brands are accessible in the fewest clicks for your onsite visitors as they browse. It’s a good idea to push these brands to prime positions like top navigation menus, while ranking products from these labels to the top levels of your category pages to make them as visible as possible when most people are seeking them. Creating dedicated fashion week shops and homepage editorial stories around such brands is another great way to boost their online presence.

Fast-fashion retailers can also get involved by observing what’s going on over the course of the week, particularly when it comes to rapidly evolving street-style trends. Brands who pay close attention to social media influencers and stylish show attendees can tap into what’s hot in the moment, from scene-stealing footwear and make-up trends to popular colours and must-have street-style accessories. Merchandisers can then handpick and populate highly visible onsite stories and concept shops around these head-turning styles to generate customer engagement, even if they don’t stock high-end labels. It’s also a good idea for luxury brands to keep their eyes peeled, as fashion show attendees and celebrities can present great opportunities for them to upsell items in line with the products these influencers are wearing.  

Forward-thinking visual merchandisers stay one step ahead by always cross-referencing their observations with data insights and commercials. You can’t drive revenue without looking at how much stock you have and how much interest people are actually showing in the trends and products you have identified for promotion. By using AI-driven algorithms to analyse key metrics like increasing search volumes, stock levels, click-through rates and sales data, brands can detect products and labels which have great stock levels while also being popular with customers in real time. These items can then be matched to the dominant fashion week trends which will support their promotion during the course of the week.

Algorithms also help brands to automatically personalise the ranking of products at scale so they fit in with the unique interests of each and every shopper. By using flexible automated systems, brands can showcase different products, trends and stories to different users depending on shopper interests, while also being able to amend and alter rankings based on new observations as trends evolve – something which is vital during LFW, where shopping behaviours and new looks are changing as fast as the new posts on an influencer’s Instagram feed. Having the flexibility to manage these fast-moving parts with efficiency can be a real game-changer, helping merchandisers meet both customer, commercial and trend-led requirements all at once.

Making the most of cross-sell and up-sell opportunities is another smart way to make a big difference during the week’s hectic events. Products can quickly sell-through during the excitement of the catwalks. At this time, adopting a visually similar product recommendations strategy can really help to increase sales. Retailers need to be ready to suggest the next best solution to shoppers to ensure they get their fashion fix, and businesses don’t miss out on potential sales.

New image-recognition solutions like visual search and ‘Shop the Look’ are proving their worth here by giving shoppers the enhanced ability to browse and shop products using images rather than words. This is particularly impactful during fashion week, when images do much more of the talking. By utilising such innovations and making the fashion week experience relevant to shopper preferences and evolving trends, brands will have everything at their disposal to pack an impressive visual punch at a time when all the best style statements are being made.