New York, NY, Oct. 30, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — (via Blockchain Wire) Excess inventory is a serious problem for fashion retailers. At the end of a season, unsold items are placed on sale or sold through outlet stores and flash sales for severely reduced prices – or in some cases, even destroyed to preserve the reputation of a brand.
Today, in the era of fast-fashion, there is more excess stock than ever before. Apparel brands are pumping out designs at an ever-faster rate, with more than 10% remaining unsold at the turn of a new season. The “off-price” apparel market is worth more than $250B in annual sales globally.
Slowing foot traffic and retail space occupancy in brick-and-mortar outlet centers isn’t helping either, which have been hard hit by the shift to online shopping. Shoppers historically flocked to outlet centers for bargains they couldn’t find elsewhere, but now these centers are starting to face the same marketplace headwinds as traditional stores. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. (SKT), which owns 39 outlet centers, posted a 0.3% decline in net operating income earlier this year and a 96% occupancy rate, down from 97.7% at the end of 2016. Tanger shares have also fallen 30% over the past year.
Outlet centers are also facing stiffer competition from off-price chains such as T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, often located closer to where most people live, as well as from traditional stores that are actively cutting prices to remain competitive. Retailers including Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren have called out softness in their outlet store sales recently, a sign these brands are also facing channel and traffic challenges.
This is where Bouu believes it has found a niche in the market, with its pair of founders, Jill Davis and Eric Alexander Morgera, pulling in $1M from investors to take on the outlet industry’s evolving dynamics and rapidly changing consumers expectations.
The issue, they say, is that retailers and brands with excess stock are often unsatisfied with the very low prices they get when selling overstock items to flash sale companies or off-price retailers, the added overhead costs of running and operating their own brick-and-mortar or even digital outlet storefronts, and the brand risk of selling premium labels in off-price markets or marketplaces where they can’t control the conversion with their customers. Davis and Morgera think they can do better.
“Bouu offers a full-service, premium marketplace for fashion and retail brands to launch their own online, direct-to-consumer outlet store managed entirely by Bouu on behalf of the brand,” says Eric Morgera. “Bouu simplifies the overstock liquidation process for brands and helps optimize the underlying economics by managing warehousing, order handling and smart pricing to create more margin headroom, while also connecting brands to their consumers in ways previously unavailable within off-price or secondary markets.”
On Bouu, retailers and brands can select from using a consignment model where Bouu manages order fulfillment for the brand and offers complimentary shipping and returns globally to customers, or brands can connect to Bouu’s plug-and-play API-enabled platform to establish their own logistic, pricing and fulfillment rules on the platform.
“With over 150 brands actively available on the platform today, Bouu operates the only truly global outlet marketplace where lovers of fashion anywhere in the world can shop from the world’s best branded outlets with completely free express delivery and returns to over 190 countries,” says Morgera.