Sydney Retail Festival

The Future of Retail with Alice Fitch

Alice Fitch has been in the Australian apparel and fashion industry for over 10 years. One day, Alice realised she was determined to create the very best fashion agency in Australia: Alice in La-La. After great success working with stores and labels across the country, Alice identified an opportunity to help empower retailers to make their best buying decisions. Her new platform, Whola, is launching soon so we caught up with Alice to hear about her vision for the future of fashion wholesale.

What do you think makes the Australian fashion industry so unique?

Not only do we have a market dominated by independent boutiques, we have a wholesale industry dominated by independent brands. This means every retailer can create a completely unique mix that speaks to their customer base. I find that really exciting! When you shop overseas you see most countries are dominated by chain stores all selling the exact same stock mix, and it’s boring. Australian consumers are so lucky to have so much choice, so let’s protect & grow it!

How do you see the future of fashion wholesale?

Increasingly we see the buy and sell cycle coming closer together. This is a really positive thing for buyers as they can reduce their financial risk and be much more responsiveto their customers’ needs.  We currently have a delivery timeframe of 24 hours to most locations, but I see this reducing to same day delivery for on demand replenishment.

Looking further into the future I see retailers having much better tools to manage their buying, marketing and sales. These processes will become more integrated and automated, freeing up time for retailers to work on their business rather than in it. Retailers that master this will emerge, stronger and more robust. These retailers will also recognise that each of their customers is unique and market to her specifically.

Falling out of this marketing strategy I see personalisation and exclusive product becoming a key driver in retail growth.

What support do you want to see more of for local Australian retailers?

We are so incredibly lucky in Australia to have a really diverse and unique retail landscape dominated by independents.

But being small businesses, most struggle with cashflow management. Securing finance is getting harder and harder as all suppliers move towards cash before delivery. It would be great to see more financing options become available at an affordable rate and it’s something we are passionately pursuing to offer through Whola.

And of course it would it’s critical Australian consumers get behind the #supportlocal campaign so these incredible independents can thrive and grow.

How would you summarise your new Whola offering?

Our mission is to make life better for retailers.

Wholesale as it currently operates is clunky, slow and stressful for buyers, so after 10 years in fashion wholesale I decided there had to be a better way!  

Whola is an online marketplace that will take a lot of the pain points away for retailers – giving them direct access to Australia’s best fast to market brands. Buyers will be able to search, compare & pay securely for their stock immediately, when it suits them.

All our labels are constantly creating new collections, so we have a broad range of choice, but our platform offers it in a way that isn’t overwhelming.

I think retailers will be relieved to hear they can say goodbye to hundreds of supplier emails every week and receive a single update daily that is tailored specifically to their store’s requirements.