There seems to be a new story every week spelling doom and gloom for brick-and-mortar apparel retail.

Big name fashion retailers are obviously struggling to contend with the eCommerce world order.

High-end brand Kenneth Cole Productions will close its 63 US outlets to focus on eCommerce and international business.

The company will continue wholesaling through other retailers, and it’ll keep the doors open at two flagship stores, but it’s the end of the line for Kenneth Cole’s brick-and-mortar channel.

Apparel Retail Falters Without eCommerce

Meanwhile, Gilden Activewear Inc put its hand up to buy US teen fashion manufacturer and retailer American Apparel for $66 million. American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in November with $215 million in debt, the second time in two years.

Gilden’s offer included purchasing American Apparel’s inventory, intellectual property, distribution facilities and Los Angeles-based factory.

But the suitor made clear that it had no interest in American Apparel’s retail assets. In other words, Gilden doesn’t want anything to do with the 110 stores the moribund retailer still runs. American Apparel is pursuing other buyers to take over those stores.

Observers note American Apparel couldn’t turn itself around since its first bankruptcy in 2015, pointing out that it had failed to bolster online sales or form a cohesive marketing plan.

“Retail, as we know it today, is dead,” American Apparel’s former chief digital office Thoryn Stephens said at the WIRED Retail 2016 event in London. “There’s no shortage of data, there’s no shortage of technology but there’s a shortage of stakeholders who know how to use said data and technology.”

The internet has fundamentally changed how businesses interact and understand their customers who no longer use the brick-and-mortar store as their primary shopping channel.

Omnichannel is the Answer

Retailers have to balance physical showroom space with eCommerce making it more important to manage inventory. There will be no room for fashion brands to carry excess inventory or rely on single sales channels to keep growing their business. Meanwhile, suppliers have more options to deal directly with both retail trading partners and customers shopping online.

Learn how some wholesalers, retailers and suppliers have managed their inventory to thrive in an omnichannel world.


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