Arrow India has reached an inflection point in its overall brand positioning. Although under-distributed in India, as Suman Saha, CEO, Arrow - Arvind Fashions Limited, says, the India-first international fashion brand is prioritizing premium product quality over retail expansion. That’s because the processes are in place for Arrow’s core team to focus on quality improvement, while technology takes care of the production.
Optimizing Core Product Portfolio
With every passing day, user experience is becoming multi-dimensional with different channels of communication giving the consumer a concrete idea of the product they might purchase. On that note, Arrow India is upgrading its abilities dramatically to become omni-enabled. “Any Arrow store that you walk in has a seamless integrated experience, irrespective of its physical size. On production and supply, we are thrashing out every cue to understand consumer preferences. One needs to delve deep into the science of retail merchandising to see how assortment for a given store influences supply,” explains Saha.
Every SKU gives the scope to gauge consumer pattern to a retailer, and Arrow India picks every insight on current trends in order to reassess the supply chain. That’s because the industry is series-specific and thrives on standard product demand.
“For products with in-built similarity, we supply based on standard demand. Then there are products with higher demand than supply, creating an anomaly at the warehouse level. Our core product portfolio has performed superbly by boosting production and inventory by over 50 percent and thus, solving that gap,” said the CEO.
Saha mentioned two important processes that catalyze this back-end demand fulfilment. The first is the 24-hour replenishment done without manual intervention. The system picks up the sales stream and pushes it to the front-end, based on an algorithm. Once that is done, the system triggers the back-end to refill automatically. This automated system brings huge delight to customers. The other process is analyses of sharply defined sales data. “We point out what type of product will work at which store, and will have a high sales rate. So, the relevance of the assortment helps in demand forecast,” Saha opined.
Product assortment is made easier with trailblazing tools to visually aggregate assortments of favorable products, and visual dis-aggregation of SKUs not working for the brand. This means that the traditional way of designers and product heads brainstorming on CAD designs, photographs, and chart boards are now passé.
“The system identifies the features working for or against a product line, thus notifying the supply chain to produce the required quantity at the earliest, with much less man hours applied, and the unchecked consumer demand met in the process. The fashion vertical is the only manually handled division in this regard,” he said.
There are a host of pilot tech programs that Arrow India is running to evaluate new ways of hooking the fickle customer. One of them is a video calling feature that enables a user to video call a showroom in another city, pick the desired product from localized inventory and purchase instantly.
Joining the Dots on a Failproof Supply Chain
If ideation and manufacturing are exciting, customers lap up the product easily. No matter how intricate the traditional process, it starts with Saha’s brief on a certain product range, containing consumer dimensions, financial metrices, and merchandising KPIs (key performance indicators). Based on that, the marketing team presents insights on consumer interactions. The product team then showcases analyses of past projects, highlighting what worked and what did not. Product design and the retail team receive all these information.
Parallelly, the marketing team studies global trends to spot new entrants in the product category or any new demand in terms of fitting, fabric, and other factors. The product team creates a tentative merchandise grid on products, their price points, necessary channels and sends them to the design team, which in turn comes up with concepts on product excellence. The final step involves advance notification about trade shows, which helps customers plan their purchases according to estimated date of supply. Customer orders then direct inventory projections across respective channels for warehousing and shipping.
Moving on to the digital format, Arrow India is going for digital sampling, wherein high-definition 3D images of the product are sent to customers overseas. Besides eliminating the cost of physical sample production, it also expedites conversion.
Sub-brands and Their Customer Cohorts
Arrow India has three sub brands, namely Arrow Mainline, Arrow Sport, and Arrow New York. “Mainline is the largest business and the heart of Arrow. It has three sub-lines of architecture - first being Arrow Original, which is formal and workwear. The next is Arrow Modern that focuses on formal wear with fashion with brighter colours and expressive patterns. The third is the ceremony line of Arrow, because today more formal wear are being consumed in Indian ceremonies,” said Saha.
The Arrow Sport, which is a clean casual workwear category offering high-quality yarn, superior finish, user experience, and a plethora of other features, being compiled in a sophisticated product line. Arrow New York scores high on fashion code, athleisure line, and thus wins the acknowledgement of the younger consumer base. “Arrow New York comprises 15 percent of the business. Arrow Mainline has the majority share of 50 percent, and the rest is Arrow Sport,” he said.
Franchise Opportunities Across National & Global Markets
Domestically, Arrow India plans to dedicate the next 12 months to add 100 more stores. “There are a lot of latent opportunities in Tier I and II cities. Without saturating this segment, I’m not thinking of venturing into Tier III regions. The only exception to that decision would be for compelling markets in Tier III areas,” Saha said.
Internationally, the 5 retail doors are doing really well under the management of Arrow India’s long-time franchise partners. The brand is also in talks with parties in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh, where they hold the distribution licenses.
A Favorable Budget for Fashion
Saha believes that consumption is going to sustain, and promising reactions to the Budget 2023-24 from across strata motivate Arrow India to capitalize on this growth momentum. The brand is already aspirational and has decided against creating unnecessary clutter through new verticals. “We want to push the brand to be more premium. My brief to the team is that 5% of Arrow’s products should be the best in the world,” Saha concluded.