Range reviews are an important part of the process in the product development cycle. The format of the review can vary from one company to another with reviews generally performed at category or sub category level.
But firstly what is a range ? In fashion terms a ‘range’ is an assortment of products, this can include apparel, accessories or even footwear, which are classified into categories and sub categories and then sold to consumers. In companies where private label items are produced, the assortment is generally reviewed by category and sub category as this reflect the buying plan. For example, in ladieswear apparel, Tops may be classed as a category and the sub categories may be divided by short sleeve, long sleeve etc… In a boutique with many different labels this may be grouped by brand but it can also be useful to look at your whole assortment by category and sub category for further comparisons.
The planning of the range is usually prepared six to 12 months ahead of the season – for private label this builds in sufficient lead time for product development and for brand selection it allows for alignment with the buying calendar of the trade shows or individual brand presentations. Depending on the size of the business, the merchandiser and the buyer generally start the preliminary planning process in conjunction with the buying head or manager. In smaller businesses sometimes the owner is the designer- buyer- merchandiser all rolled into one!
These range reviews are important for the following reasons;
- This will be the first opportunity to look at the products with the financial plan and put the two together.
- They provide opportunities to assess the sample garments with a view to how the range is coming together and whether the styles, shapes and colours are still relevant.
- From a commercial perspective it provides an opportunity to review the proposed retail prices.
- It is important to refer to the initial product designs and plan to ensure the concept is developing as originally planned.
- The review give room to modify the assortment and change out some styles and make room for a replacement that has come on trend since the plan was initially prepared.
Here is a visual example of an range plan for a range of ladies tops. It is important to know as much detail as possible about the range you bought because you cannot look at financial planning spreadsheets without understanding and knowing the product.
Some Key tools to have ready when doing a review include the Concept boards to refer to along with the initial designs and sketches and fabric swatches.
The technical packs should be on hand if there are any modifications required or for comparison to what was requested. As mentioned the range plans including the prices and proposed buy quantities. Finally any market comps or additional information that will help in the decision making process will be useful.
Once the review has been done it is vital to follow up on any changes proposed to the plans Too often it is easy to skip quickly over details that may end up costing more in the long term and resulting in an unsuccessful product and a non profitable commection.