The See-Now-Buy-Now approach and why it is good for retailers

1st February 2018

Social media has enabled consumers to become more engaged with retailers than ever before – but this is not without it’s problems. Access to boundless, instant information has caused retail trends to become fragmented (“The new trend is that there is no trend”) making large-volume fashion sales harder to predict. And the supply chain route has slowed right down after many large businesses moved their manufacturing processes offshore to low-cost/cheap-labour locations. The “See-it-want-it” consumers want to buy what they’ve just seen on the runway right now – not several months down the road. But how can retailers possibly adapt to fit the see-now-buy-now model?

Photo by Jordan Nix on Unsplash

Photo by Jordan Nix on Unsplash

Not everyone is sold on the idea, but other are reporting terrific benefits to adopting the process – including 264% sales rises and brand new items selling out despite inflated prices. Amazon recently patented an on-demand manufacturing process so that they can quickly create clothing and other items on demand, rather than mass-producing and mass-marketing them. But how can other retailers get in on the game?

Here are five ways that retailers are moving to adopt a see-now-buy-now strategy:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Some retailers are using machine learning to pull data from multiple sources in order to implement ‘optimised line planning’ (OLP). This creates a single view of different types of customer personas which help them to plan new products based on different customer segments, created with aggregated real-world data. This approach enables designers and retailers to be more bold with their line planning, using informed processes to achieve maximum sales with less waste.

2.Customer Collaboration in Product Creation and Launch

Many retailers are adopting a customer-centered design approach in order to cope with the fragmented and differentiated consumer segments. For example, Randa Accessories recently used consumer insights to discover that despite the fact that they are one of the world’s leading producers of men’s accessories, their main customers are women who purchase their products as gifts. This information enabled them to rapidly modify their marketing message to specifically target female gift-shoppers.

3. 3D Printing

3D printing has the potential to enable retailers to plan and adapt their designs at a moments notice. The fashion industry frequently suffers from overproduction and surplus production – so 3D tech offers disruptive innovations to the very early stages of a product’s life cycle, in order to cut production, inventory, shipping and waste. Shoppers can also participate in the creative process through co-designing personalised items, rather than browsing through racks, which also appeals to the fragmented market.

4. Downsizing deliveries

Some retailers are using smaller consignments to create a sense of ‘scarcity’ in order to boost sales. Likewise, “smaller batch” fashion startups are also using limited edition offers and producing limited batches of their collections, a few items at a time.

5. Domestic production

Increasingly corporations are finding that it makes sense to keep production closer to home as despite costing more, it dramatically reduces the lead times involved in getting a new item to market. When consumers demand the latest items from the runway sooner rather than later it makes sense to get them made up and on sale as quickly as possible. It also gives them greater control and flexibility over production – and some shoppers also prefer to buy locally manufactured goods.


Pressure is mounting on retailers to create items and get them on sale quickly before someone else pips them to the post. By embracing technology they should be able to adopt this trend without overstretching themselves. The benefits of applying see-now-buy-now are clear. They will vastly improve their chances of matching supply to demand to achieve the better sales and less waste in the long time.

According to Greg Petro in an article in Forbes magazine, “See-now-buy-now isn’t just a good idea – it’s the necessary approach for modern retailers to meet consumer preferences and demand.”
Do you agree? Are you adapting your sales strategy to suit see-now-buy-now? Or is it just another symptom of rampant consumerism? Let us know in the comments section below.