Be fast or be last:
How brands like Obermeyer are improving time-to-market to notch huge wins in the outdoor industry
Want to be a dominant leader in the outdoor industry? Here’s some advice: Be first to market. As research continues to show that first-to-market (FTM) entrants enjoy clear market share, revenue, sales growth, and overall competitive advantages — time-to-market (TTM) is now one of the most crucial key performance indicators (KPIs) for outdoor apparel brands to improve.
Being first in the outdoor industry
Setting your sights on being first-to-market in any vertical typically results in huge upside benefits. However, this same strategy when applied to the outdoor industry, holds an even broader level of impact:
- Being first to market, early in the season, can help outdoor brands position against volatile market conditions brought on by unpredictable variables such as weather conditions.
- FTM allows brands to offset slow consumer spending when seasons (e.g. winter or summer) start late.
- FTM also ensures products are in place for early season, early adopter, and eager buyers who are ready to jump on new product launches.
- With major outdoor industry supply issues still lingering due to the pandemic, time to market (and being FTM) becomes even more critical for both consumer and wholesale channels as brands compete for available demand.
How important is TTM?
Generally speaking, brands lose financially when they don’t meet their time-to-market targets. In a classic study, McKinsey & Co. found that a product six months late to market earns 33% less profit over five years. And, even if it is released on time but is 50% over budget it only cuts profits by about 4%.
Furthermore, the easiest way to gain competitive advantage downstream is to simply set up a beachhead before everyone else. As noted in a recent Capgemini report, “speed to market is the ‘first profit driver.’ By optimizing speed to market and becoming a ‘first mover’ you can present and deliver your product to end-customers before competitors, gaining an important market advantage. The faster it gets that product to market, the less likely it is to face competition early on.”
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Let digital transformation lead the way
According to Gartner, only 55% of products are launched on schedule. That’s a painful statistic to read. The upside is that it leaves a ton of room for improvement (as well as room for increases in both sales and revenue.) One of the quickest ways to cut TTM 30-50% is to implement a digital transformation strategy:
- Companies that embrace digital transformation are better positioned to take advantage of new business opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.
- Digital transformation can help companies streamline processes, reduce manual labor, and automate repetitive tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic tasks. This can lead to improved efficiency, faster time-to-market, and lower costs.
- Digital transformation encourages companies to embrace new technologies, test new ideas, and continuously improve the quality of their products, services, and processes.
- Companies can use digital technologies to create more personalized, convenient and streamlined customer experience.
One of the quickest digital transformations that a brand can implement is a subset of digital transformation called “Process Transformation” — a type of digital transformation that involves using technology to improve internal processes.
As an example, here at ShowLabs, we provide the outdoor industry with the gold standard in visual commerce solutions. Said differently, we provide a range of transformative digital solutions that standardize the process of content creation, provide the industry’s simplest solution for delivering content into any commerce channel, and help brands drive ecommerce sales through automated data-driven visual asset optimization.
As more and more brands commit to using our services as part of their digital transformation gameplans, they immediately begin to decrease their TTM while increasing their competitive edge.
ShowLabs’ unparalleled expertise and innovative visual commerce solutions have not only significantly accelerated our time-to-market but have also played a pivotal role in boosting our early season sales. Together, we’re setting new standards for agility and success in the outdoor industry, and we look forward to continued collaboration and mutual growth.”
Director of User Experience
A quick example
ShowLabs recently partnered with Obermeyer, a leader and acclaimed innovator in winter apparel since 1947. By leveraging our visual commerce solution as an expansion of a digital transformation effort, we were able to launch their FY23 product line faster than ever before. Obermeyer launched an impressive two months earlier than any season prior and their TTM improvement fueled an increase in YOY August sales by a massive 664%.
Furthermore, while FY23 was launching, ShowLabs was able to proactively begin to impact FY24’s TTM by publishing imagery to their B2B portal for FY24 sell-in. This was the first time Obermeyer was able to move beyond CADs for sell-in. “ShowLabs’ unparalleled expertise and innovative visual commerce solutions have not only significantly accelerated our time-to-market but have also played a pivotal role in boosting our early season sales. Together, we’re setting new standards for agility and success in the outdoor industry, and we look forward to continued collaboration and mutual growth,” said Michael Stump, Director of User Experience at Obermeyer.
Obermeyer success snapshot
- Obermeyer launched an impressive two months earlier than any season prior
- TTM improvements fueled an massive increase in YOY August & September sales by 664% (No, not a typo.)
- Proactively impacted FY24’s TTM by using FY23’s imagery for FY24’s sell-in
- Moved Obermeyer beyond CADs for FY24 sell-in
The last word
In the ever-evolving outdoor apparel industry, achieving a faster time to market is more than a strategy—it’s an obvious necessity. Digital transformation partners who can help brands create those efficiencies are a large part of what is defining this new digital age and the demand for go-to-market processes that defy conventional means of operating. It’s a mindset of “fast fashion” demanding that brands move well faster than their traditional counterparts, within compressed production cycles, and can deliver immediate improvement to these powerful TTM metrics.
Founded in April 2021, ShowLabs is a revolutionary visual commerce solution, providing brands with both an innovative visual content studio, capable of producing high-quality visual assets at neck-breaking speeds, and an AI-powered software platform, capable of manipulating, managing, and distributing those assets across the entire digital and virtual ecommerce ecosystem. ShowLabs’ solutions solve the content production bottlenecks most brands face within their digital asset supply chains. Customers benefit from increased productivity, high volume asset creation, a full spectrum of innovative content types, and deployment productivity and insights. Based in Denver, Colorado, ShowLabs supports customers worldwide.