All posts by Luyanda Sithole

Do You Need a Business Plan for Your Fashion Business?

Today’s video we are discussing if you really need a business plan for your fashion business.Traditionally we are told before we even start working on your business you need a formal business plan in place. There are different kinds of plans that can relate to you; such as a Product Plan, Action Plan, Sales Plan etc. Watch our new video and see how you can start your planning!

If you are ready to launch your brand then set up a consultation. Email: hello@scalingretail.com. Scaling Retail is the consulting firm for retail globally. Specializing in startup and growth stage ecommerce, brick & mortar, and wholesale.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://blog.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-websites-that-sell-ebook/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

Follow us here
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/scalingretail
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scalingretail
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nyc-retail-consultant

Amazon & Rebecca Minkoff Ditch Cashiers and Sales Associates For New Types of Technology

I’ve always enjoyed walking into a Whole Foods and being able to ask a sales associate to give me qualitative information about products. In fact their experience can largely sway an opinion. Think about ordering food at a restaurant- ever asked the waiter what’s the best on the menu and order that? What if the waiter wasn’t there and every time you ordered something you had to guess what to order? Or have you ever wanted to buy something that went with your outfit, but no one was there to give an opinion? How frustrating.

Taking away key decision making drivers in the sales process leaves a vacuum for a new types of technology to enter. One new technology would aggregate customer feedback and experiences per product and segment based on your friends and similar interest groups. Your friends become the curators. This would go beyond a Yelp or Amazon review system and be curated by similar interest groups.

Another type of technology that will gain traction will be interactive mirrors and social selling apps that allow the customer to take photographs of themselves and share with friends to get instant feedback- these already exist but have yet to take off. In essence, the role of the sales associates preference would be replaced with that of friends and social groups.

Rebecca Minkoff

So then what does the role of the store play? I’ve written in the past that customers are looking for a more interactive in store experience (see the article on my talk at the SAP Retail Forum). They want events, curation, and customization. They crave an experience that is personal and tailored to them.

This is the age of individualization not normalization.

The question remains-will these new types of stores gain traction? If it works in tandem with technology that fulfills the social needs and information needs of a cashier or sales associated then yes. If it leaves the customer hanging, then these stores become showrooms where people will go to look and buy at home- a trend we started to see back in 2012.

As we wait to see what happens with in store trends my advice is to continue to think about your customer value proposition. What value do you offer besides selling products on a shelf? Rebecca Minkoff is first to market in her space selling products up to $1,500 in this new concept store. The novelty of it will drive in store traffic- but will it correlate to sales?

Amazon might see a correlation between in app searches and in store buying- leveraging its app as an information hub and who knows, maybe they will be integrating your in store purchase with the nutrition count and syncing it up with your health data. Scary, but totally possible! Lots of possibilities here, but at the end of the day customer purchasing power is king and will dictate if this new concept store experience will last.

Syama Meagher is the CEO of Scaling Retail, a retail strategy firm that offers insight and strategic consulting to fashion and retail brands. To get insight on sales, marketing and merchandising for your business email: hello@scalingretail.com.

5 Ways to Get Pinterest to Convert for Your Brand

Pinterest can be a time consuming platform unless you are dedicated to building it out and engaging on it. So, if you are already swamped with Instagram then please don’t try to launch a Pinterest platform until you’ve got it down. If you have been working on Pinterest but want to optimize your results and make it work this blog post is for you.

  1. Segment and Create lifestyle boards with product, not just product pages.
    • I cannot tell you how often I see Pinterest boards that only have product. As if it were some kind of catalogue. This is not the purpose of Pinterest and doesn’t work with the audience you are looking to convert. Make sure your boards have inspirational, lifestyle images, and products all mixed together.
    • For segmentation please create different themes as if you were merchandising an editorial story. Boards that are titled “dresses” or “pants” have nowhere to grow. You will just end up with an ever-expanding dress category. Think about topics like Summer 17 Dresses or Fall Coats Trends or even Dress Staples (for categories that are season less). The goal here is to get someone to engage with your point of view.
  2. Add the “Buyable Pins” function to your products
    • This is an obvious one, but still not used as much as it should be. Enable your business account and start creating buyable pins. These pins should not just be straight product shots; they should be lifestyle shots that showcase the product. Once you have buyable pins, and people hearting and saving them, then you can enact a more strategic approach to price changes. When you make price adjustments or do flash sales a notification will go off to those who have engaged with it- so use it wisely.
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  3. Make sure you are using strategic long-tail keywords for your pins.
    • Long-tail keywords is probably something you have heard before regarding Google AdWords. It’s also important for Pinterest. Long-tail keywords tend to attract real buyers who are ready to convert. A good example of this is the difference between someone typing in “black dress” vs. “short lace dress in black”. The images that come up with the longer description have a higher chance of being bought because they are specific to a need. When you are writing your descriptions for Pinterest think about how someone might actually find your product. What might they really be looking for and how can you filter to the top of that search. Unlike your regular product pages where you have a ton of details on dimension and fit, think of this as story telling.
  4. Align your product offering with what works on this platform.
    • Pinterest is great for selling mid priced items. In a recent interview for eMarketer, the head of commerce at Pinterest observed that the majority of items being purchased were between $45-$170. This doesn’t meant your products won’t sell if they are higher or lower, but that you may not be in the ‘sweet spot’ to see higher ROI’s.
  5. Collaborate with super-pinners + Advertise
    • It’s important that you exercise a channel to its fullest advantage. Working with super pinners is like working with influencers on Instagram- there is a pay to play element. Super pinners will re-pin your products on their site to drive you more traffic and visibility. Pinterest promoted pins are also a great way to increase sales. Promoted pins that are positioned with the right ad copy and are selling in the sweet spot of price are ideal for being a promoted pin.

Consistency should also be on this list. Its important to make sure that when you are building your Pinterest pages you don’t just launch it and build it for just one campaign and then let it go until you need it again. While your pins will still be indexed they won’t be very recent so ranking will drop. Pinterest can be an amazing tool if it becomes a part of your core social media program.

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Syama Meagher is the fashion business consultant for start up and growth stage businesses. As the CEO of Scaling Retail she focuses on the convergence of sales, marketing and merchandising across ecommerce, mobile, brick & mortar and pop-up shops. If you need help with your fashion business marketing strategy then send over an email to hello@scalingretail.com.

Driving Sales this Holiday Season: Black Friday to Christmas

Black Friday is upon us, and as a business that may not have $50,000 for an advertising budget you may want to re-consider what options you have. Not all businesses HAVE to participate in Black Friday or the sales leading to Cyber Monday. Your business is only responsible for catering to your audience. This is not the time to go all out on big campaigns if you are going to be bidding against big retailer budgets. This is time to communicate with your customers and take the time to reinforce your existing relationships.

If you will be participating in Black Friday and other sales this quarter then follow these marketing steps to create cohesive campaigns and see results.

Step 1: Research

Digital Marketing

You are no stranger at evaluating your own digital platforms, but have you really analyzed it? Spend some time looking into your own platforms to see what people are engaging with. Make note of that content. Is there a core user base of followers on your platforms? These people will come in handy. The more organic your engagement the less your digital advertising spend needs are. If you don’t have much organic engagement then you will want to increase your budget for paid marketing and read on.

Facebook Ads:

I’m not a huge fan of Facebook for Facebook pages, but I do think their digital advertising is really smart. Leverage hypertargeting ad placements to get specific with who ends up seeing your ad. Remember: It’s not about the number of people who come to your site, but the number of people who convert (a.k.a. buy things). Since you may not have a lot of time to test advertising to hone in on your Facebook target market, take an educated guess.

As you monitor and pivot your campaigns you may be able to make some tweaks based on what you find. For these ads you will be creating graphic assets to support it. If you need to hire someone fast to do it I suggest Upwork, TaskRabbit and 99designs. Make sure your ad lands on the right shop pages and that you have supporting banner ads to echo your messaging.

Example messages: Free 2 Day shipping Over $50, BOGO (buy one get one free), Free Shipping with Code HOL15.

Twitter Ads:

Twitter has updated their advertising platform to allow for more dynamic product advertising. If you have an active Twitter account then this is a good option for you. If you don’t then I wouldn’t suggest hopping on Twitter right away just to do these ads. The cool thing about Twitter ads is that they allow you to target your competitor’s handles directly. This will allow you to market to your competitor’s audience. If this is a good fit for you, you will need to reformat and change your ad specs to accommodate this platform.

Pinterest:

This is a good platform to use for selling. If you have been on this platform for a while I do suggest taking advantage of dynamic pins. At this moment Pinterest is getting ready to open up promoted pins, so you will have to join the waitlist to be notified when it opens up. When you do engage with dynamic pins and change pricing on your products it will bubble to the top of the feed for your followers.

Tip: Do price changes just for the weekend just to get the visibility.

Instagram:

Until they open up their platform to allow smaller brands to engage in advertising this will remain an organic channel for our purposes. The best way to leverage your organic audience will be through giveaways that generate likes, reposts and tagging.

If you have some time to do research into influencer marketing you may be able to get on the radar of high ranking influencers, but be cautious of high ranking influencers who don’t have much engagement on their platforms. Its too easy to buy followers these days, so if you get awed by an influencers 45k followers see if they have a 5% conversion rate (2,250 likes). To track your sales generated by Instagram use Google short links and alternate the products promoted on your channels by day.

YouTube:

Does your brand have a YouTube channel? Have you thought about partnering with a V-logger (video blogger)? If you have a YouTube channel, you may want to create a short promo video about the holiday season. Maybe it’s a sneak peak into the office and talks about your best selling holiday products. Maybe you are offering ideas on what to give for the holiday. These can be free to produce and be edited very fast. On YouTube make sure you connect the links to your product pages! If you couple this with an ad it could become a place to drive sales for your brand.

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Banner Ads:

Creating a banner ad on your site is a great way to harness your own traffic to convert. Keep your messaging consistent, especially if you have different ad promos running. Purchasing banner advertising on niche market websites is also a great option. Smaller, more targeted publications will also be speaking directly to your customer and they won’t be targeted by larger brands- so do some digging you might find some jewels.

Dedicated Blog Posts/Dedicated Newsletters/:

Similar to the Banner Ads, if you are looking for placement on another parties channel it takes a little time. Do some research into niche markets and find potential partners that your product will make a great fit for. It should be a natural fit, as if their audiences were to say “but of course this product/brand would go in my closet/shelf”. If you do find a great opportunity make sure that you find out the number of people your placement will reach, and what similar advertisements have converted.

Direct Marketing

Getting in front of your customer has to take on a 360o approach. It’s not enough to rely on digital to get the word out. It does take time to create direct marketing assets, find the right outlets, negotiate pricing and get placed. Long-lead publications take 3 months and smaller ones take about 1 month. Keep in mind that the holiday season is the biggest time for ad spending, next to the Super Bowl. The earlier you plan this- the better. While your timing and budget may be limited there are a few things you can do to generate sales.

Pop-up Shops:

Putting together a multi-brand pop up shop can happen very quickly if you already know whom you want to work with. Think about the brands that currently target your same demographic but are selling different kinds of products. Make sure your pricing is aligned, doesn’t make sense to have a luxury brand trying to sell to an entry-level price brand. Check out resources like thestorefront.com to get a read on what spaces are available in your target area. You will need to make sure you have inventory to sell and to make it a cohesive campaign will want to have postcards, stickers for shopping bags and back it all up with some placement on your digital channels.

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Postcards:

Having postcards handy are great for passing out at events, leaving them at local coffee shops, mailing out to your existing customer base and to your trusty list of bloggers and editors. Use a beautiful image of your product and include all of your relevant contact details plus a few key words or sentences about your brand. To get extra oomph out of it have small stickers printed up with a few targeted coupon codes. You can stick them on before an event or marketing opportunity to track effectiveness of bounce back to your site.

Print Advertising: Magazines, Newspapers, and Periodicals:

For a last minute strategy this type of outlet can be the toughest to target. I only suggest using these channels as a supporting campaign to your digital or live events. It’s tough to track the conversions on these ads, and even with bounce back codes the conversions can be quite low. Heads up: most print advertising will have longer lead times for deadlines. If you are running out of time but want to include this type of channel then look to weekly publications since they might still have some openings.

Step 2: Outreach

Since you are on a short timeline you need to find out quickly which paid and unpaid channels you are going to go forward with. Start by reaching out to the paid channels first to get an idea of deadlines and cost. Make sure to get all relevant data on the target market, reach numbers, and what assets you will need to create the best campaign ever.

Example Email:

Hi Cristina!

I hope you are great. I’d like to chat with you about November/December ad placement on Man Repeller. Could you let me know what your deadlines are for submission and your ad rates? Right now I am looking into <insert type of ads >.

Thanks!

Syama

Step 3: Budget

Now while we would love to do everything on our list of potential outreach, we need to optimize for budget and timing. Normally I would suggest we create the budget based on your overall marketing budget for the year, but if this is last minute here is what I suggest. Set aside a minimum of $50 a day on your digital marketing campaigns until you get some solid data on what is working. This should be evident after 7 days of advertising. Once you get a sense of your responsive target market then up your budget and keep trekking.

Creating graphic assets, while echoed throughout this guide, is often overlooked. This aspect can take time and you want to make sure you have the right dimensions and call-to-actions in place. If you aren’t creating these yourself then look to some outside help. A copywriter might also be in your budget if you aren’t the strongest writer. A general rule of thumb your annual marketing budget should be about 15% of your yearly sales. This very much applies to businesses that have tested and gained target insight.

Step 4: Develop Timeline

No matter how much (or how little) time you have a timeline is important. Create an excel spreadsheet with the platforms both paid and unpaid and track it out by week. What channels launch when and what assets need to be finalized by when. Also track your goals and expectations. Are you targeting a niche market? You might have a small outreach but a higher expectation on click throughs and conversions.

Tip on conversion: make sure you have a newsletter pop up ready on your site to capture all these new leads!

Step 5: Develop Assets

Get creative! If you don’t have Photoshop then I suggest using simple graphic design programs like Canva and PicMonkey. Make sure your graphic assets are cohesive, with the same branded fonts and design direction. For this reason it’s best to either have a style guide for consistency purposes or to have the same designer create all your assets and then create the style guide afterwards. Be clear on the dimensions you need and what content can be put on the graphics, or on the text portion of your post. Many ads allow you to create multiple variations to test your image and text, so be sure to take advantage of this.

Step 6: Launch

Whoohoo! You made it. The work is almost over. Remember to be patient and to keep in mind that marketing is a long tail game. The first time you see an ad will you buy it right it away? You might buy it, but you also might not. In many cases it takes up to 3 different social proofs before a potential client converts, hence why I push the multi pronged approach.

Step 7: Monitor & Pivot

Even if your campaign is only 7 days long it’s important to track data on performance. Use your timeline and goal sheet and add your results right next to it. If your campaign is longer, then monitor which ads are performing best and redirect your ad dollars to those ads. Having multiple styles of ads will allow you to compare more effectively. Maybe it’s the image with the model that’s getting the most traffic, maybe it’s the clear product shot. Creating the tests to get the answers you need.

Step 8: Recap

A post-mortem allows you to recap what worked and didn’t work during your campaign. Remember the whole point of doing all of this is to make sales! Over time you will develop the channels that work for your brand but you need to keep records so that next year when you start to plan for Holiday again you can improve your odds of conversions.

Tip: Add a reminder on your calendar for February of the following year to review your recap and start to think about holiday again.

Get on Facebook Marketplace Now

Facebook has launched their in mobile app marketplace and sellers are flocking. In 4 steps you can upload a photo, add a product description, choose a price and post it to the marketplace. You can even change your zip code to show up in more relevant listings and post your item for sale in groups you are a member of.

So why on earth are designers not flocking to this? They will. If you have been paying attention to my last few talks and posts I’ve been preaching the gospel of attention arbitrage – in essence be first and be where your customers are. Don’t wait until brands are getting on this platform before you jump in. Start playing now.

It has a little bit of a Poshmark feel as well; the layout, the necessity for good images, fair prices and the small amount of area to write product copy. Poshmark also allows you to re-sell goods that you buy at wholesale. The official Facebook Marketplace for Business hasn’t launched yet, but be certain that when it does it will be easier for brands who have already had experience on it to quickly jump on board. You won’t miss a beat.

This marketplace acts a little bit like Craigslist, you use your profile and are able to set up a time for the transaction to take place. If you have a studio you work out of it’s a great way to get your brand exposed to more customers. If you are doing a sample sale, boom, mark it down and let your community have first dibs. I really love what types of possibilities this will open up for businesses down the road that participate in popup shops.

facebook marketplace

Facebook is hoping to weed out fake buyers by only allowing those with a full profile and active friends to participate. They also won’t accept payment terms, for now. Imagine down the road Facebook partnering up with Visa or American Express and negotiating special rates with them on the backend if they are the preferred payment processing system. Facebook doesn’t integrate with a shipping method yet. So this means you will be deciding on if mailing or picking up works.

facebook marketplace

To make sure you close the sale follow these steps:

  1. Have great images- you have 4 to use.
    1. Make sure the lighting is good
    2. Use a background
  2. Write your product copy beforehand.
  3. Choose the zipcode you want to do business with.
  4. Pick a strong product title.
  5. Post your product on relevant community groups.
  6. Time the release of your product. Don’t just upload everything at once, your product will become more relevant in search if you stagger, like how Pinterest is.
  7. Use relevant words in your description. This is a primarily search based platform. Think of long tail keywords versus short ones. There will be way too many “little back dresses” to be able to find, but “knee length little black dress with sleeves” might be more relevant.

I’m super excited to see what awaits Facebook Marketplace. Brands have been waiting for when Facebook would diversify its offerings since the plugins that allow selling in your Facebook Page don’t really convert. This is mostly due to the fact that Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform for businesses. Its virtually impossible to get traction on Facebook pages without spending ad dollars. And small brands with little budget have a difficult time seeing ROI’s on their advertisements.

This could be a new channel for distribution and it’s definitely worth keeping your eye on and even testing it out. Remember when eBay first launched? There were business that grew out of eBay, hello, Sophia Amoruso’s Nasty Gal!

The Ultimate Fashion Marketing Toolkit

Before you launch your brand you need to have a few (read a lot) things in place. Here is my ultimate check list of marketing tools you need, to get your brand off the ground, and people talking about it! Which tips have you heard of and do they work for you? Comment below and lets talk fashion marketing.

If you are ready to launch your brand then set up a consultation. Email: hello@scalingretail.com. Scaling Retail is the consulting firm for retail globally. Specializing in startup and growth stage ecommerce, brick & mortar, and wholesale.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-website-that-sell/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

Follow us here
Instagram: https://instagram.com/scalingretail/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scalingretail
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scalingretail
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nyc-retail-consultant

How to Buy Back Your Time: Mindfulness & Technology

 

It seems like an oxymoron right? Mindfulness and Technology? Yes, technology can help with buying back your time as an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is a life long commitment and can be frustrating, but with these tips you can make your life a little easier.

Schedule out your emails with Boomerang, a Gmail intergrated system that is totally FREE!
http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

Easy to use CRM system also FREE!
https://www.streak.com/

Scheduling software such as Hootsuite really helps getting your captivating content out there and constantly engaging with your audience.

Get more tips by downloading my Ebook Mindfulness for Entrepreneurs by me and Michael Kass

Mindfulness for Entrepreneurs- ebook

Did you find this video helpful? Need more tips? Leave a comment below, so we can chat!

Thank you for watching.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-website-that-sell/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

Contact Syama for any questions: Syama@scalingretail.com

Follow us for here
Instagram: https://instagram.com/scalingretail/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scalingretail
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scalingretail
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nyc-retail-consultant

Mindfulness For The Fashion Entrepreneur

 

Hey there! Thank you so much for tuning in. This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. It is very important to be healthy while running your business. These easy steps can really make a difference on how you approach your daily tasks and making great business decisions.

Here is the link to getting your short meditation in the mornings!

8 Min Morning Meditation: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/8-min-morning-meditation/

Please leave your comments below and let me know how you approach mindfulness in your busy schedule.

Feel free to tell a friend and share the video!

Thank you so much.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-website-that-sell/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

Contact Syama for any questions: Syama@scalingretail.com

Follow us for here
Instagram: https://instagram.com/scalingretail/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scalingretail
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scalingretail
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nyc-retail-consultant

Here is a portion of the transcript!

As an entrepreneur, day to day, you have so many responsibilities, so many things that you’re having to work on. You’re constantly switching from the role of CMO, to CEO, to assistant, to intern, you’re basically everything for your business all the time. So the better that we actually can get at managing our time and the better we can get at being connected to the times that we are present, the better decisions that we’re going to make.

So if you had a hard time sleeping last night and it was maybe because you’re up checking your phone up until midnight. Well, I’m going to share with you this first step that’s really going to help you start to sleep better and it’s really going to start to help you detach from being connected. And that is something called a digital detox. Now, it doesn’t have to be as complicated or as daunting. I’m not asking you to turn away your cell phone for a whole week or to turn off your computer for a week, but simply taking some small steps on a regular basis will help you start to wind down, cultivate some sleep hygiene, and actually start to get a better rest at night. And therefore, allow you to be better and more productive in the morning. So how do you do that?

Well, my suggestion is to really start to set aside little chunks of time where you turn your cell phone off. If it’s not available to you to turn your cell phone off at 8:00 at night every night, and have dinner, hang out with friends, relax and go to bed. Then maybe even think about turning it off for an hour or two during the day. Will that be possible? Maybe it even possible to turn it off, have it off in the morning. Find an alternate alarm system or a way of getting up in the morning, so you’re not so reliant upon your cellphone as everything. As much as Apple wants us to rely on our cell phone to be our lifeline and connect us to everything, it’s actually really important for us for our REM cycles at night, when we’re sleeping, to be able to get our full night sleep and to be able to really detach from that. Maybe it’s just one night this week where you turn it off for an hour or two. Maybe you turn it off for the whole night and maybe you take a couple of minutes in the morning to actually breathe and acknowledge your space before you turn it back on again. Take some baby steps, but I guarantee over a period of time you’re going to see some real benefits and results for yourself, psychologically, which will then really relate to your business in a very tangible way.

All right, action plan number two. This one is pretty easy. Eat your lunch with both hands. Maybe eat your breakfast with hands. Maybe eat your dinner with both hands.