CEO of Scaling Retail. www.ScalingRetail.com

All posts by Syama Meagher

Dreaming of Owning a Boutique? Dreams do Come True.

Starting a boutique with all your favorite brands can seem like a dream to some, but a reality to others. How to get the right vendors? Choose a location? Hire the contractors, pick the interior designer, do the marketing…the list can seem daunting and confusing. Where to start? Two of my clients the owners of The Vale and Flat 128 were in those shoes and went from an idea to reality in a short 12 months. It wasn’t magic. It takes a great deal of determination, vision, and stamina to open a store.

Here were the steps we took.

  • Hone in on vision, What do you want out of this?
  • Competitive research. Who is doing what you want to be doing? Price point, demographics, get specific.
  • Build your vendor matrix
  • Assess Financials, How much capital do you need to raise?
  • Assortment Plan & Pricing Analysis
  • Branding, build the logo, the vision, the aesthetics
  • Draft the copywriting, brand about statement, and get clear on demographics
  • Look at locations. Do a feasibility study. Inspect foot traffic, talk to local shop owners, and get clear on your square footage needed.
  • Hire a general contractor and interior designer.
  • Pitch to vendors, place orders.
  • Planogram, and visual layout.
  • Marketing strategy
  • Financial plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Develop markdown and merchandising calendar
  • Social media strategy and marketing
  • Hire staff
  • Launch plan (events, marketing etc.)
  • Line up vendors for trunk shows during launch
  • Develop Ecommerce launch plan.

Whew, that seems like a huge laundry list of tasks to check off a list, but they are doable. If your dream is to open a shop, don’t get deterred by ecommerce only naysayers who are afraid of a brick & mortar commitments. Opening a boutique can be extremely rewarding. You can bring the community together. Be a hub for art gallery showings, and have trunk shows and events.

Concerned by your lack of negotiating, financial planning or marketing skills? Don’t worry, I am here to help. To set up a one:one consultation email: hello@scalingretail.com

What is the difference between Drop Shipping & Cross Shipping?

New business models are the wave of the future and understanding how to work with these new types of retailers will help you maximize those relationships and, of course, make more money!

Here is what you need to know.

 Drop-Shipping

 What it is: The online retailers sells your product on their platform. Once the customer places the order with the retailer, they contact you and you ship it to the customer. The retailer pays you the cost price plus shipping.

Pro’s:

1. If you are just starting out and you don’t have a lot of distribution working with drop-shipping companies will allow you to add stockists to your list.

2. Drop-shipping sites are usually early stage businesses, this gives you the advantage to ask for more. Things you can ask for: social media blasts, newsletter features, homepage features.

3. Testing out products and price points. If you aren’t ready to launch your own ecommerce and want to test market your products, this is a great way to do so.

4. Better payment terms & margins. You have the upper hand in negotiations on wholesale price. I suggest a 60/40 split in your favor and 14 day or 30 day payment terms.

5. Packaging is a great way to take that customer all for yourself. Make sure you add postcards or special content that will drive that customer back to your site. Though you may need to use the retailers packaging, definitely double-check.

Con’s:

1. You have to hold the inventory. If you don’t have products already in stock you will need to get the inventory.

2. You have to do the shipping. If you don’t have a local USPS, or aren’t  set up with UPS or FEDEX, whichever is preferred by the retailer, you will need to do so.

3. Sales will be tough to get. Especially on newer ecommerce sites that use drop shipping. They are spending their time marketing and getting traffic to the site, but its tough to say what will be the best sellers and if your products will work. Don’t go into drop-shipping thinking you will get business right away. It will take time.

Cross-Shipping 

What it is: Similar to drop-shipping, the online retailer sells your product on their site. Once the order gets processed the retailer contacts you and you ship to the retailer. Then the retailer re-packages the product and sends to the customer.

Now why would the retailer want to do this? Branding. Its better for the retailer to have the outgoing packages be branded from them even if they are not holding the inventory. This also costs more for them. They pay for shipping to them and shipping from them to the customer.

Pro’s and Con’s are similar to that of drop-shipping. Though under this scenario you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of adding in your branded assets to the package that gets sent to the customer.

These two forms of online business models are more common than you think. New startups will often implement them to test market their brand before moving into a wholesale model. These models aren’t good or bad but need to be factored into a global sales strategy for your band. If you are interested in learning more about new business models sign up for our Selling Webinar: How to Sell to Barneys & Boutiques. If you want more in-depth strategy and guidance contact us at hello@scalingretail.com

Here is to your success!

 

Creating Product Pages That Sell Your Products- Fashion Ecommerce


 

Transcript!

Hi I’m Syama, CEO of Scalling Retail.

I’m so happy you get to join me today. We are going to talk about some really important information that’s really going to help drive sales to your eCommerce platform. In particular, we are going to be taking some tips from Chapter Four of my latest book, “Creating Fashion Websites That Sell: The Fashion Designers’ Guide.”

Chapter Four is all about creating pages, product pages that are really going to drive sales. Absolutely, it’s going to be so important that you take some great notes. We are going over some really critical steps so that you can actually make these changes and make these things happen to your website, but ultimately, the most important thing in this process is going to be to get deep with your website.

Step one, is get familiar with your platform. Start to understand the terminology, Google it. You are going to see things like meta tagging, coming up with short descriptions for your website, making sure each of your product pages have the right descriptions on the back end. That’s very different than the right descriptions on the front end, which is what your customer is ultimately going to see. So step one, let’s get familiar.

Step two, it’s time to start getting creative about what it is you’re going to be selling. Obviously, it’s important to take a look online, start to do some key search terms. That means really start to take a look at some of the keywords that you’re going to be trying to sell on your page. See what’s ranking and see how people are actually responding to that. There are some great platforms online, like Moz, and some other ones, that actually allow you to do search rankings for keywords. Taking a look and doing some search rankings, figuring out what are the keywords that you are actually going to be optimizing for. While that all might sound very technical, it’s really going to help you with this next step of writing it.

Writing a product page is extremely, extremely important for what someone is actually going to buy. Too often I see people who are trying to sell $500 items on a website, and all they’ve really told me is one or two sentences about why I should buy it. To be honest, if I don’t know your brand, and you don’t have any brand value, or perceived value from a social standpoint, and I haven’t read about you in any press, you really need to sell me on why it is I am going to spend $500 on your product. Even still, if I’m going to spend $50 on your product, your goal is going to be to sell me, in the most romantic way possible, why it is that I need to own what it is that you are selling. You’re going to need to do it in a way that optimizes for keywords, and you are going to need to do it in a way that optimizes for the voice that you are trying to get across to your customer.

In other tips and tricks we’ve gone over developing your customer voice and understanding that, so it’s important to take all of that information and research that you’ve done in terms of demographics, et cetera, and translate those words into your description pages. You’re going to want to come up with a very descriptive title. Of course, if what you’re selling is green high heels, I sure hope you tell me what shade of green it is. I sure hope that you’re going to tell me what style of pump it is. Perhaps you are going to put something really catchy and interesting in there. If you had some press, “As seen in” is always a really interesting thing to put in your titles. That’s just the beginning.

Don’t make your prod descriptions too long. You certainly want to make sure that there is a couple sentences that talk about, maybe, the inspiration, where it was made, why you made it, what’s the reasoning behind it, maybe where someone else could see it, any type of press that that item has received. Then you want to go into some basic functional details.

These are things that you might say to yourself “Of course, I’ve already thought about it,” but too often are people overlooking the very basic fundamentals that get a customer to convert, and what are those? The first one is writing down your fabric content. People want to know a way in which a product is going to fit. They are going to want to know the way in which it’s going to look on them. Of course, having size information is going to be really critical, as well as having…If your product was on a model, or if it’s being shown to scale in any capacity, which it should, from images, you are going to definitely have on there the size that the model is wearing. I want to know, as a customer, how it is I’m going to be able to figure out if that item is actually going to look good on me. Anything that you can tell me about the way your product fits is going to help me trust that purchase, and ultimately, when I do make that buy, I’m not going to end up returning it because you actually sold me on wrong information. Make your product description fundamental details, make those really as clear as possible.

From a visual standpoint, there are a couple of different ways in which I really suggest formatting all of this content. We’re going to really think about having everything above the fold. As a customer, if I have to continuously scroll down to see everything, you’re probably going to end up losing me. When it comes to taking a look at product images, you’re going to want to have your one hero image. My favorite thing to do is have your thumbnails over to the side of it, to the left side of the page, so I can easily see what other alternate images you have. If you have product videos, great place to put them. If you have images of people on the street, customers, any press placements of people in those products, you’re product page is where you are going to want to double or triple expose those images. When it comes to everything being above the fold, make sure your thumbnails are above the fold, make sure your product descriptions, if you have any relevant shipping information, things that are really going to help me buy.

If you are selling something and it’s $50, and you have a shipping promo going on and it’s free shipping over $100, make sure that I see that on your product page because I want to know why it is I should buy it from you, and what are all the trigger points that are available to me. Secondly, making sure that your descriptions are both romantic and in the voice of your customer. Third, making sure all of your information is above the fold. Fourthly, you want to make sure you have product images that are professional. You want to make sure that there are to scale shots. You want to make sure you have lifestyle shots, and then, of course, any other type of extra social shots, press or social media. All of those things are really going to help tell the story.

Before you press live on your product page, I highly suggest you take a look and double check on a couple things. One, the product images that you’ve been uploading, have you been changing the names on the product images? I sure hope you’re not loading something and the title of it is DSC_12345. That’s not going to optimize that image, right? You want to make sure that all of the images on that product page are actually having their own unique product description, again, further ways of optimizing your brand. The best format that I have found is to actually use the name of our company in the formatting of the title, as well as the product description. The key highlighted subject titles of that, so, green high heel, maybe it’s kelly green, maybe it’s forest green, but things like that that are really going to be super descriptive. Images are going to be the one place you really want to double check.

Second thing to double check before you press live, make sure that you have everything on the back end set up in terms of all meta descriptions and tagging. It’s so easy when we’re uploading products to quickly overlook all these things. You might have done all the research, but you may not have necessarily translated that to the website. Make sure, number two, that you double check everything on the back end, grammar, spelling check. Please don’t push live unless you know it’s for certain.

Then, number three, make sure that below the fold is where you can actually have other areas of content that you might want to be pushing forward. Maybe you want to have other products, as far as linking sites, linking other product pages. If you want to do some cross selling or upselling, the bottom of the page is the greatest place you can do that.

Remember, you’ve done so much work to get your customer to this product page. If you fail them now, they will probably not return, right? It is super important, about 80%…

Holiday Sales Planning Strategies

 

Have you started to think about Holiday Sales Planning? Watch to get some ideas.

Hi, I’m Syama, CEO of Scaling Retail. I know everyone is starting to think about what it is they’re going to do for the holiday season and holiday planning, and being a small designer it can be kind of a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a ton of money. So today, I’d like to share with you the things that I think are most important for you to start to work on as you’re gearing up for holiday sales.

Now, what you may not know is that the holiday really starts in October. Traditionally, we always think about opening up presents around Christmas time, but ultimately those gift giving opportunities start to happen right around October, the beginning of October. Right after you’ve already done all of your…you know, denim launches and all the things that have traditionally been associated with September. You quickly launch into holiday marketing and holiday plans. Now, it takes time to really figure out what it is you’re going to do, and to really build the right relationships, and get everything altogether when you’re launching.

So the very first thing that you want to do as you’re figuring out what you’re going to do for the holiday is say to yourself, “Well, what’s my assortment planning looking like? What are the styles that I’m going to be pushing for the holiday? Are these the same styles that I’ve been trying to push and sell for fall-winter, or is there something new? Is there a new collection? Maybe a couple of new styles?” If you have something new, great. If you don’t, don’t worry. You can still re-market and reconfigure what it is that you are pushing and selling for fall-winter, and make it have a more holiday focused marketing strategy.

So when you take a look at the different ways in which you want to be able to interact with your customer, I always like to suggest that my clients, and you, will take a look and figure out where is my customer? Where does he or she live? What is he or she doing with their time, around the holiday season? It may not be what you think. Oftentimes you might say, “Well, I only have an e-commerce platform. How do I take my e-commerce platform and take that into something that’s more of a direct message?” And that can be a little bit challenging to figure out. So my suggestion, take a look at the following ideas.

Pop Up Shops are an excellent way of getting in front of your customer. If you currently have an e-commerce platform and you’re looking for a way to bridge that relationship, a Pop Up Shop in a strategic market is really going to help you figure out, “Are my products really marrying and getting matched up with the right customer base? Is my customer really reacting to my products the way that I want?” Almost a little bit of holiday marketing/price point analysis and kind of doing some behind the scenes work to figure out, “How are my customers really reacting to my product when they get to touch it, feel it, and ultimately they get to experience it and hopefully buy it?” So this is just one way of taking an e-commerce platform and turning it into something a little bit more tactile.

Now, Pop Up Shops, you might think in your head, are kind of expensive. Maybe you’re used to reading about companies like Nasty Gal and other larger e-commerce platforms doing Pop Up Shops. But you can actually execute and do a Pop Up Shop in a really easy way. I like to use platforms, like thestorefront.com, which is great because you’re actually able to see what platforms and spaces are available for you on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, or even on a monthly basis. And they actually cover markets all over the country.

The other thing you want to start to take a look at when you’re looking at holiday, is really digital marketing. You know, this is a great opportunity to start to plan out how you’re going to seed the market with Facebook ads, potentially Google AdWords, and how you’re going to get people to drive traffic to your site, and potentially link up to any of your holiday promos. Now, as we know, all brands have holiday promos. You won’t be the first. A lot of brands are hesitant to put things on markdown, or do two for ones, or give 25% off coupons. But if there’s any time in the year you’re going to do that, this is going to be the time.

As you’re starting to plan out what that digital marketing strategy looks like, plan it out in a very cohesive manner. Take a look at what the graphic assets are that you need. What are the assets you’re going to need on your website in order to support those graphic assets out on Facebook? And ultimately, what’s your budget going to be like, when you push those ads out? Your advertising, again, starts in October and slowly starts to ramp up. When you take a look at the sale cadence, October, usually things are pretty much full price. Come November, you’re going to start to see people discounting things at 25 to 40% off, right around Thanksgiving. And then come the holiday, really the Christmastime, which would be the 21st through the 25th, you’re going to start to see deeper discounts being taken, somewhere up to 50%.

Advanced planning will ultimately save you money, if you start doing it now, if you start doing it in advance of even producing your fall-winter, even holiday collection. Taking into consideration markdowns, marketing budgets, what you’re going to do to actually get that sale, is going to help you when it comes to pricing your assortment.

The other third thing that’s really important when it comes time for holiday is thinking about brand collaborations. Oftentimes when we’re a small brand, we have…you know, our product line and we spent so much time trying to figure out the right price points, trying to figure out where we’re gonna sell it, developing our e-commerce platforms. And we oftentimes forget the benefits of cross marketing and cross branding. You’re not the only one who wants to get your name out there. So my suggestion is to start to take a look at cross marketing, and to do a little bit of research, brands that are complementary, brands that are ultimately going to be able to want to show your product potentially on their site. And maybe you would do a shout-out for them on your newsletter.

So start to take a look at like minded brands that are within your sphere. So if you’re an accessories brand, look at clothing brands, vice versa. If you’re an e-commerce platform and you’re looking at a brand that does traditionally wholesale, maybe there’s an opportunity for you to do some cross marketing. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to get in front of that wholesalers, buyers, through that cross marketing. This is a fantastic time for you to sit down and say, “How can I leverage the three most important months of my selling year and really get the most benefit out of it from a marketing and sales and branding standpoint?”

Hopefully, you gained some really valuable insights into this video. I highly suggest that you subscribe to this channel, as there are more awesome insights and tips from myself. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Thank you.

3 Insights on How to Assess the ROI of Sustainability

 

Corporate sustainability is no longer seen as just a costly PR move used to appease social pressure; it can truly prove to be both cost saving and profitable when implemented the right way. The issue with measuring the return on sustainable investment is that there are a number of benefits that are hard to numerically quantify. Sure, it’s easy to measure the return on using more energy efficient lighting or cutting back on waste disposal fees, but how does one accurately estimate the ROI on social improvements that lead to more motivated employees and ultimately greater productivity? Because implementing a sustainable project requires a good deal of capital upfront, it’s important to be able to calculate both the quantitative and qualitative benefits, and how they will contribute to your ROI, in order to make profitable decisions. Before I get into how you should assess your ROI, I want to quickly touch on questions to ask yourself before making the leap into a sustainable venture.

Sustainability should be built into the DNA of your company. Start by asking yourself: “What is it that I’m selling?” This will help you identify how your product or service contributes to society and if you’re really solving problems that people need solutions for, or if you’re just contributing to over consumption. Next, ask yourself: “How do I produce this?” Dare to question how you are producing, and be willing to invest your time and money in order to change your production model and replace your materials with more sustainable methods. Those who are willing to invest in solving real problems with real solutions in order to make a real difference are ultimately the ones that will make sustainability profitable.

Green1

3 Key Insights:

  1. Brands with Purpose Grow Faster

Over the last decade we’ve definitely seen a spike in brands that integrate a purposeful stance within their business. This is a direct response to an over taxed planet and poor human working conditions around the world, and has been substantiated by a market demand for such purpose driven brands. Consumers have moved from passive to active consumption, and their influence on corporate responsibility no longer validates the fundamental incongruity between harmful business practices and compensation through charitable donations. Establishing a purpose that is meaningful to consumers and authentic to the brand is the best way to become a profitable, sustainable living brand. You have to connect with people on a value driven level, inspire them to be a part of a broader movement. It’s about raising a call to action. Trends show consumer patterns where people are looking to be seen as what they buy, they want their consumption to reflect their views and their values: we are what we consume. Jonathan Atwood, VP of Communications & Sustainable Living for Unilever NA, explains how, “50% of our growth in 2014 came from brands that have a purpose, and grew 2X as fast as the other brands within Unilever with better core operating margins.” He further goes on to highlight their successful Dove Real Beauty campaign, “taking on a societal issue around real beauty and self-esteem among young girls, Dove has been able to reach over 15 million girls since the inception of the campaign. The social purpose is very well defined, while on the product end we’re seeing plastic reduction and other [conservation] efforts.”   Purpose driven brands are taking considerable market share, and are creating the ability to do powerful, good things in the world.   For more information on developing and launching your brand, download my webinar Launch My Brand: 6 Week Program for a comprehensive understanding.

 

  1. The Relationship Between Human Impact and Profits

Human capital is the core of every business, with companies stating that “people are our most important asset”. This isn’t just a warm-cuddly, team motivating statement; there is a direct connection between human impact and profits, meaning lower risk, higher potential return and greater resilience.   Providing employees with the necessary infrastructure and then measuring their engagement, retention and diversity is essential. Companies with higher employee engagement end up having higher productivity and higher revenue growth. Additionally those that promote diversity, such as women on the board of directors, have higher returns on equity and lower risk. It’s a great financial investment to make social improvements for employees, as this not only benefits shareholders, but clearly the employees as well. At the end of the day, any capital investment has to make financial business sense. It’s when the investment takes a little longer to pay off in dollars and cents that the conversation between sustainability director and CFO becomes a little more challenging. CFO of WeSpire, Tom Matlock, explains how “CFO’s put only 17% relative weight on the qualitative narrative of social and environmental impacts compared with 73% weight on financial return and payback when considering capital investment.” Clearly there is a financial gain from these qualitative benefits, but the tricky part is expressing them in quantitative terms to validate their expense. WeSpire is a great employee engagement platform that enables individuals and entire organizations to drive a measurable, positive impact. You can use their ROI calculator, which measures thousands of actions, to determine the hard dollar savings generated from each employee action. Take a closer look as Wespire offers some amazing tools http://www.wespire.com/.

 

  1. Natural Resource Conservation Has a Direct Effect on the Bottom Line

The above points are long term investments and require a more creative, nuanced approach when justifying them on a financial basis. Some measures, like waste diversion and efficiency improvements, show their return right away and therefore are easier to approve. These are the proverbial low-hanging fruit. Not to say they aren’t important, it’s just that it’s easier to express their value in cost savings as they have a direct effect on the bottom line. When we talk about actions that affect the bottom line, we are generally speaking about improvements made to help the environment and conserve natural resources.   This could mean diverting waste, reusing “dead” material, improving energy efficiency, conserving water, recycling, reducing plastic and packaging waste and countless other actions. All of these actions when implemented can easily be measured and monitored for cost savings, as they inherently improve on efficiency. McGee Young, founder of MeterHero, says, “There is a period of instability coming that’s going to affect the weather, the availability of resources and the cost of doing business.” According to Young, operating under the wrong set of assumptions is probably the No. 1 cause of death among companies. “If your company doesn’t adapt, a startup will come along, and you will likely get blown out of the water, because your business processes were designed for an era of surplus. Other companies will eat your lunch. It’s really all about your ability to think beyond your current market.”

At the end of the day, venturing into the sustainable industry is no small undertaking. Whether you’re converting your business to be more environmentally and socially responsible, or if you’re launching a brand where sustainability is built into the ethos of your business, both take a tremendous amount of savvy and industry know-how. Here at Scaling Retail we are highly experienced and offer invaluable industry insights, and provide our clients with real measurable results. We don’t just believe in following trends for the sake of being trendy, we ensure our clients are making decisions that will have both short term and long term financial returns. Please contact us at Scaling Retail to learn more about sustainable business building. And don’t forget to stay connected with us on: Instagram – Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn!

 

Our Sources:

Creating an About Page that Sells


 

TRANSCRIPT

In this chapter, we go in-depth into knowledge about how to build the perfect about page, the about page that really speaks to your customer, the about page that really reflects who you are, and the about page that ultimately gets that person to hook into your brand. That’s the whole point of an about page, isn’t it?

So we’re going to break down the different steps of what it’s going to take for you to build that about page. Starting off with some of the nitty-gritty.

So be sure as you’re starting to think about what you’re going to write as far as content that you’re spending some time thinking about who your customer truly is, right? Where is that customer shopping? Who is that person? Now, please don’t give me the same old “Well, my customer is very stylish.” I can’t tell you how often I hear people say, “Well, I’m targeting myself towards a woman. She’s between 20 and 45. And she makes $80,000 a year. And she lives in New York City.” That customer is too vague. That doesn’t mean anything to me. If you write in such vague terms on your website, I’m not going to relate to it. Chances are your customer won’t either.

I’ve seen so many bad about pages and good about pages. And really the ones that ultimately get the customer voice across are the ones who understand the lifestyle of the customer. What magazines are they reading? What type of vocabulary are they using? Right? Who is that person who you’re trying to sell too?

Now, the tricky part here is marrying who your customer is or who you want your customer to be with who you are, right? So that’s taking customer demographic analysis and understanding that customer profile and marrying that with who you are as a brand. What is it that you stand for? What’s your vision? Where do you want your brand to be? Right? And that process of developing your brand identity can take some time, right? I usually find the best way to start thinking about brand identity is to really take a look at your garment and what you’ve been creating, right? A lot of times people will start to think about their brand identity first and then create garments. And in that relationship, I think it’s a fantastic way, because your brand becomes essentially your umbrella. And then each of your collections and each of your seasons fall under that umbrella.

Media Pitching Tips

 

Now, marrying your customer with your brand is tricky, right? This process should take you a few weeks. In the beginning stages, you’re doing a lot of research. You’re taking a lot of notes. Towards the end of this process, you’re going to start going into little writing sessions. In these writing sessions, what I’m asking of you to do is to sit down and do some heavy writing about both of these subjects, right, your ideal customer as well as your brand and your brand vision.

After you go through the writing process, now, it’s time to edit, right? And through this editing process, we’re really getting rid of any type of loose words, loose context, loose ideas that don’t ultimately feed the point of this exercise, which is to write a killer about page, right?

So in this about page, your goal is to really communicate to the customer in terms of the voice that they want to be spoken to, and you want to really relate to them the value that your brand is offering to them. Not just what your brand is offering in general, but how is your customer going to really feel when they engage with your brand? What is it that they can count on you for? Why would they want to shop with you? Is it because you’re a made in U.S.A, or you’re organic, or you’re sourcing textiles and products from international? Why do I want to shop with you? And how is that going to make me feel? What club am I now a part of?

So start to marry those types of contexts and ideas together. Now, once you have a solid written piece of content, it’s time to start to think about how it’s all going to lay out, right? What’s the structure and the format that you need to be presenting this?

Well, of course, you need to have a killer photograph of yourself. In that bio shot, you’re also selling your product. So please wear your product if you have it, right? Again, about page is also a selling page, right? So when you get a killer product shot in with your photo of yourself, that to me is really an ideal photo.

Now, alongside with this bio of yourself, right, and of your brand, make sure that when you write about yourself and you write about who you are, you’re really keeping it to very short and minimal content. What I wanna know is your intrinsic passion and value that you’re bringing to this brand, right? What I love to read are these amazing stories of architects who have become fashion designers or even people who are right out of college who have been inspired through their travels or have been inspired through urban street wear, right, or inspired through people or inspired through anything. You need to be inspired guys. And if you’re not, you need to make something up real fast, because if you’re not inspired by anything, I’m not going to feel a connection or relatability to you.

So short bio about yourself, talk about the brand, talk about what the customer is ultimately going to feel out of that experience. And then also include if you can’t somewhat of a brand video, right? Get in front of the camera. Again, if you’re camera shy, we can find lots of interesting ways to get your story and your point across to your customer.

Also, remember this, your customer isn’t the only one who’s looking at your about page. Potential wholesale buyers, editors, bloggers, stylists, everyone is looking at your about page. Your about page is your reason for creating connection, right? So in that about page, you’re not just talking to the customer who’s gonna purchase, right? You’re also selling people on your value. You’re selling people on who you are.

At the end of the day, make sure, final touch, all of your content is above the fold. Your customer is lazy. Your customer needs to be shown everything up and front and center. Don’t make him or her scroll down. Keep it all really focused, tight, and above the fold of your website.

 

Book Cover of Creating Fashion Websites That Sell

All right, guys, I hope you found this content really interesting and helpful. More to be found in Creating Fashion Websites That Sell: The Fashion Designers Guide. The link is below. Please feel free to check it out. Leave your comments below. Please email me and stay in touch. Thank you.

Optimize Paid Traffic to Attract the 5 Types of Ecommerce Shoppers

Optimize Paid Traffic to Attract the 5 Types of Ecommerce Shoppers

Deciding where to invest your money in paid traffic can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. There is a lot of trial and error that goes into finding the optimal strategy to fit your unique business; a trial period most start-up’s have limited funding for. Finding the perfect equilibrium where you’re staying within budget and seeing a solid return on investment can seem difficult to achieve, but by segmenting your e-commerce audience by lifecycle stages, you can run specialized paid traffic campaigns to more effectively target customers. Fortunately with some great tips offered by paid traffic expert Ezra Firestone, and insightful information by CEO of OptiMove, Pini Yakuel, the right strategy seems well within reach. I will draw from the following people and combine them with my fashion retail background to give you actionable points that you can begin implementing on your next paid traffic campaign.

Phase 1: “The Browser”

Target: Prospective customers who have landed on your site, who have set up an account or have added to your email subscription, but have yet to make a purchase. According to Yakuel, his data shows that, “80% of all customers make their first purchase with an online retailer the same day they register for an account or provide their email address. 7% of shoppers will make their first purchase within a week of registering, but after that your chances of converting them drop significantly.” In order to capture the Browser and convert them into customers, it is essential to get them to make a purchase within the first 7 days of contact with your site.

Paid Tip: Before you can turn this group into customers, you first have to expose them to your brand. Pinterest is quickly becoming the next big social platform for advertising because it provides much greater quality of traffic with far greater conversion rates. Ezra explains how, “Pinterest really does drive purchase behavior in a way that other social sites don’t because people are really there to look at products and show interest in things they’re interested in buying.” Currently usership is dominated by women at 70%, making it ideal for beauty, fashion, houseware, design and pet products. Paid advertising on Pinterest is still relatively new, so it’ll be interesting to see how things develop when the quality of scale improves. Once customers have landed on your site, offering an incentive on their first order will stimulate purchase, allowing you to convert them within the ideal 7 day range.

Free Tip: If you have your products for sale on Pinterest, try putting an item on a flash sale each week. This will alert the people who have “pinned” your product and Boom- more visibility

Phase 2: “The New Customer”

Target: Customers who have completed their first purchase. After their first purchase, it is critical to get them to repurchase as the likelihood of them becoming brand loyal drastically increases with each subsequent purchase.

Paid Tip: Investing in Direct Email Marketing & Google Retargeting Ads are among the best tools to activate a second purchase. Sending direct email’s to customers featuring “like” items and placing re-targeting ads reminding them of new products and special offers should stimulate revisits and hopefully translate into conversions. Another strategy stated in the previous section is incentivizing purchase. Here, we look at incentives that will drive multiple item purchase, like: free shipping with a $75+ purchase, when the average priced good on your site is $50. Research shows that people who order multiple items in their first purchase are more likely to repurchase from that brand.

Free Tip: Use Mailchimp to track if customers are clicking on the Promo banner ads.

 Phase 3: “The Active Customer”

Target: Customers who have made multiple purchases, and are considered engaged due to the recency and frequency of their purchasing behavior.   Yakuel further adds that, “You should segment your Active Customers using RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary) clustering. This helps reveal who your highest-value and lowest-value customers are, which customers are at high risk of churning, and more.”

Paid Tip: For this group, implementing a strong Instagram campaign would be an effective strategy. Due to the nature of Instagram, it is hard to assess its contribution to site visits and conversions. But one thing about Instagram is undeniable, users are extremely engaged; with usership seeing tremendous growth and continuing to stay on the incline. Instagram’s paid traffic is still in beta testing, so your best bet is paid sponsored posts by influential Instagram community members. This idea scales the concept of word of mouth referral; by having influencers naturally integrate a product within their lifestyle conveys a sense of trustworthiness unlike with explicit advertisements. This leaves users with a feeling of having an organic relationship with the brand, which is a great for maintaining engagement with active customers and also for acquiring new customers.

Free Tip: Follow your biggest competitor and see the “suggested accounts” that show up after you’ve followed. Compile a list of competitor accounts and begin targeting their audience.

Phase 4: “Churned Customer”

Target: Active customers who haven’t made a purchase beyond a designated time period since their last purchase. If too much time passes before a customer makes a new purchase, getting them re-engaged could prove to be challenging. On the upside, you can leverage your previously acquired customer data to better target, and it’ll be easier to grab their attention due to their pre-existing knowledge and familiarity with the brand.

Paid Tip: Here is when to utilize arguably the best source for paid traffic, Facebook. Facebook is great for re-targeting because it offers the highest quality at scale and has rolled out a number of new features to improve conversions and analytics. They have plans to introduce one-click purchasing, similar to Amazon, where users can store their payment information and buy directly through Facebook. Tools like Power Editor (similar to AdWord Editor) allows you to target your customer through a set of filters; refined as narrowly as type of feed, operating system and type of device, example: mobile news feed, IOS, tablet devices. The great thing about setting such specific targets is that you can play around to see where you’re getting the most bang for your buck. If your product is a higher end good, then setting targets that only deliver to tablet devices might yield a greater ROI than desktops, as prices on per-click rates significantly drop between desktop and mobile devices. Facebook has also introduced the Audience Insight tool which helps you learn more about your target audience, including aggregate information about geography, demographics and purchase behavior.

Most e-commerce retailers are familiar with traditional query based traffic. It’s really easy to sell someone something when they’ve already been looking for the product or service you have to offer. So how do you generate traffic outside of query based searches? Ezra suggests that, “You can’t really make sales on Facebook by sending people directly to your ecommerce product page… the way that’s working right now the best is we’re sending people to a piece of content, and it’s a presell article. The article is related to the problem that our product solves.” An example of a presell article for anti-aging cream could be a blog post on 5 Beauty Tips for Older Women, which then incorporates your product. The idea is that you promote an article that engages your audience in a story that then alludes to a solution (your product). Ezra states, “we actually are getting much cheaper clicks because content is what Facebook wants. People share content, they engage in it.”

Your retargeting ads should be selected based on the number of skews your site carries. Google and Facebook retargeting ads should be selected for businesses with fewer skews, while AdRoll and Perfect Audience should be utilized for businesses with 1000+ skews. The cool thing about AdWords is that you can choose to retarget an audience based on a number of filters. You can choose only those who added items to their cart but never checked out, or those who spent more than 20-30 seconds on your site. This ability allows you to increase your ROI and decrease ad spend.

Free Tip: IF you can’t afford to remarket, consider writing targeted blog posts and inserting them into the comments section of other brands and bloggers where it might be relevant.

Phase 5: “Reactivated Customer”

Target: Reactivated customers are those who were previously marked as churned, but have since returned to make a new purchase. Reactivated customers operate similar to new customers; they have the same spending and retention behaviors. Although they function similarly, they are easier to engage because they’ve had a prior relationship with the brand.

Paid Tip: Since the window to get reactivated customers back to being active shoppers is so small, it’s critical to move quickly. Direct Email Marketing is a great way to customize engagement with this extremely valuable customer segment. Give them special treatment such as exclusive offers and bonuses in order to maximize their lifetime value. Your paid traffic strategy should essentially be comparable to your New Customer strategy (Phase 3).

Free Tip: Use the free versions of Mailchimp and other email platforms before upgrading. Track if your emails are being opened, and if not, try playing with subject headers. Consider each email to be an experiment; set up metrics to test and launch. Make sure to ask yourself; what worked and what didn’t?

For a more comprehensive look on how to launch a successful website and other insightful information, download Creating Fashion Websites that Sell.

Check out the Article:

Ezra: http://www.ecommercefuel.com/paid-traffic-2015/

Yakuel: http://multichannelmerchant.com/author/pini-yakueloptimove-com/

 

12 Merchandising Tips for Ecommerce

Merchandising Tips from Creating Fashion Websites that Sell, by Nicole Giordano and myself, Syama Meagher.

Purchase your copy here!

Merchandising your website is important, you may not have a collection of 20 styles, but anything you can do to or­ganize your collections and make it easier for your custo­mers to find what they’re looking for, is a great thing.

1. Keep your category pages to a minimum 5 styles.

2. If you have 5 or fewer styles when launching then stick to 3 product images per row, and make them large images. This way it will extend to two rows.

3. If you have only a few styles but they come in multiple colors, show them. Customers want to see all the options they have.

4. Always think about how your customer will want to shop.

5. Create fun categories (in addition to the basic categories) like :Sweet & Simple, Comfy & Cozy, Party Time, Favorite Holiday Gifts. This is where you can push forward your points of view and curate a more editorialized space for your products.

6. Offering items within a certain price point? Gifts under $100 is always a good idea to have if it’s within your brand strategy.

7. Best Sellers. Have you sold certain products from your brand over and over again? It’s always great to showcase the products that do well.

8. Sale Section. Do you have markdowns? Products that are going to be on sale for a limited period of time? This is where you can house them. It makes more sense to keep your sale items in their own category than to merchandise them with products on the regular merchandise pages.

9. Add a prominent “view all” to each category page if you have more the 2 pages of products. There is fatigue if you have to click through more than 3 pages.

10. Categories are to be used to help customers find your products, so don’t create too many just for the sake of it.

11. Color Filter. Unless you have a wide variety of products on your site, don’t bother adding this.

12. If you prefer to sell by collection, not product category, be con­sistent and list the names of the collection on the side bar.

Download a copy of the book today for more insider tips on how to launch a website that will sell.

 

The Traditional Business Plan Is Dead: Introducing the Strategic Plan

 

A traditional business plan is a guaranteed time waster unless you are looking for busy work to keep you from actually starting your brand or you are really considering outside investment. What is the alternative? A self directed plan to actually guide you month to month and season to season. This means cutting out the fluff and focusing on the strategy and nitty gritty. If you are looking to procrastinate, then keep writing away, or if you are writing one to get outside investment then read on to find out why you potentially should not be seeking investment in your early stage startup brand.

The 7 Most Important Questions to Ask Before Launching without an Investor: 

  1. Financial Plan- Operating Costs Fixed & Variable: How much will this cost me over the next 18 months if I don’t sell anything?
  2. Production + Cost of Goods: How much will it cost for me to make and manufacture my product?
  3. Marketing Plan  + Competitive Matrix: Who is my target customer and what markets do I want to fill? How will I get the word out about my product? What brands will I compete with?
  4. Sales Plan: What distribution channel will help me generate revenue, is it ecommerce or wholesale? When can I expect to start generating a profit?
  5. Brand Identity: Who are you?
  6. Merchandising: What is my assortment plan and pricing?
  7. Tie it all together: What are my 18-month Timeline and Goals?

 

All Excel spreadsheets you create for your company need to be dynamic. Meaning, these are not stagnant documents you are creating. You should be able to update, change, and use them on a monthly basis to compare where you are versus your plan. If you ever create something and don’t use it, it is a waste of time.

If you can go through all the aforementioned steps of flushing out your brand then you should end up with a tight game plan that allows you to execute with your eye on the prize on a monthly basis.

This step-by-step plan involves creating the foundation, building the strategy, and then executing approach. Often times entrepreneurs start executing without knowing where they’re

heading or what their core goals are. When launching a brand, it’s important to think of yourself as a primary investor. Understand your brand’s ROI before deciding to launch and spend haphazardly.

Notice we didn’t mention the common Executive Summary, Mission, Exit Strategy, Management Team, Government Approvals, Technology, Facilities, and the additional points you would find in a template business plan. The goal for this exercise is to find out If you can actually afford to bring this brand to life and fully understand what it takes,  not spend hours perfecting grammar and prose.

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How to Choose the Right Investor:

If you want to raise capital, then you will need to add a few extra bells and whistles to your strategic plan. Your potential investor will want to see your management team, what your infrastructure is like and an exit strategy. No one will give money to just anyone, there needs to be proof- either in you or your team that you have what it takes to make this successful. You will want to look for patient capital, meaning an investor who does not need to see an ROI immediately as it will take any early stage brand a minimum of 18 months to see if they can make it.

I generally advise against outside investment when launching your brand. Primarily because of the potential investors who are just ‘interested’ in being in fashion and don’t understand the retail financial cycle.

Breakdown of The Retail Financial Cycle Your Potential Investor Should Understand:

Scenario: You’ve just raised $45k in funding for a small RTW line. Here’s approximately where that money will be allocated in a year:

  1. Marketing & Operational Costs: Samples, marketing, ecommerce and your first selling campaign amongst other things may average out to $12k.
  2. Production: Let’s say you’ve gotten an order from a boutique, (which is unlikely for most designers in their first season), you’ll need additional funding of $18k to go into production. P.S. Factoring (short term loans to produce are tough to get these days unless you have an order of $250k +)
  3. Order Fulfillment: Once the order is produced and delivered to the client, you have to wait for payment. Let’s say the boutique pays you 60 days after delivery because payments are slow for them. That’s $30k in sunken costs in just getting your product to the store, without any payment for 2 months.
  4. Next Season: While you’re producing for the current season, you’ll also need to allocate another $15k for next season’s sample production cost.
  5. Markdowns & Chargebacks: Most brands don’t realize that retailers build into their contracts fees if your product doesn’t sell, if you don’t ship properly and if the purchase order arrives a day or two late with p.o.’s in the wrong boxes.

 

If your investor does not understand how retail operates, you might have a very frustrated partner on your hands. I always suggest vetting potential investors thoroughly. Do they have experience or relationships in retail? Can they help you outside of just the investment? Unless you plan to work with an Angel investor who isn’t hedging on an immediate ROI, make sure you do your due diligence. Your investor should be a long-term partner willing to stick it out for 18 – 36 months at minimum.

It’s a lot of work to launch your brand and maintain it. Its emotionally tough and can be financially challenging. If you can get your head around the business part, then at least you will have a plan to guide you through the highs and lows.