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Ted Baker starts new social and web 'product drops'

UK fashion retailer Ted Baker is looking to follow a new strategy – already used by fashion brands such as Burberry – whereby it launches exclusive items via social media and the web each month.

The ‘product drops’ – one each from its menswear and womenswear ranges – will be available on the final Wednesday of each month for 48 hours, and only promoted and made available via Ted Baker’s digital properties such as Instagram and Twitter.

The first use of this technique appeared on 27 February, with Ted Baker’s social accounts directing customers through to a website product page selling “limited edition logo jumpers”.

Evidence of social proofing is on the page, with shoppers alerted to how many other people are viewing the said items in real time. Retailers use this type of approach to create urgency and add a sense of hype around product launches.

The strategy to increase hype around exclusive items is one used regularly in the luxury market, and is a tried a trusted tactic by the likes of Burberry, which last year started revealing new products in the middle of the month via Instagram and WeChat. In this example, customers have just 24 hours to secure the items.

Ted Baker’s new move comes at the end of a challenging period for the business.

The retailer issued a profit warning on 27 February, with profit before tax for the 12-month period to 26 January 2019 now expected to be in the region of £63 million, which would be around £10 million lower than it previously expected.

There were several reasons cited for the change in forecast, including foreign exchange movements in the final week of the financial year; new product costs made clear after a systems upgrade; systems and warehousing transitions in Asia and the US; and an unanticipated write-down in the value of inventory of approximately £5 million. 

News of a likely drop in profitability comes amid a scandal involving CEO and founder Ray Kelvin, who has taken voluntary leave of absence while as-yet unproven allegations of staff harassment are investigated.

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