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Next week, at the WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit in New York, McKinsey & Co. Inc. reports findings from an executive survey that sheds light onto the importance of speed to market, improving the supply chain and leveraging consumer data and insights. Preliminary findings of the report showed that 64 percent of respondents cited improving omnichannel capabilities and supply chain efficiencies as a “top priority.”

The survey, done in partnership with WWD, also stressed the importance of “wiring” consumer insights and data into the business of a brand or retailer.

“Just as important as gathering the data and deriving insights is making sure the insights are actionable to the business, and as such are tied to specific decisions within the business,” researchers of the report noted. “Oftentimes the amount of data available can be overwhelming to business users.”

The report went on to state that the “breadth of applications from data and insights into product decision-making are broad” and also includes product development and design platforms as well as solutions that can be used for “sharper forecasting and better downstream inventory management.”

“For example, StitchFix is using consumer insights-driven algorithms to design new clothes, while Victoria’s Secret runs panties on a speed program to be able to read initial sales results for test products in store and be back in-stock in 15 to 25 days,” authors of the report noted.

Participants of the survey also shared their perspectives on adopting these technologies with several noting that while leveraging insights and data as well as improving speed to market is necessary in today’s market, maintaining the “DNA of the brand” as well as focusing on offering compelling products to consumers should remain a priority.

Jennifer Schmidt, senior partner at McKinsey & Co., said companies are adapting and making changes in regard to improving the supply chain and increasing speed to market, but it is taking time. “Brands and retailers are figuring it out, but with the supply chain many are still tethered to a single model — and it is a model that results in long lead times.”

Schmidt also said companies have spent a lot of time optimizing for cost. But consumer demands are now forcing brands and retailers to “optimize for speed.”

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