Category: Fashion

All things generally related to fashion.

3 Sustainable Brands Doing Supply Chain Integration Right

3 Sustainable Brands Doing Supply Chain Integration Right

If you’re exploring different avenues for scaling up, you may want to think about supply chain integration. A properly integrated supply chain will give you more control over production (and thus your products), greater flexibility and the ability to decrease expenses to increase profits. It can also add to your brand story as you cut down waste and decrease your carbon footprint like three sustainable brands who have it down to a tee: Eileen Fisher, PACT ORGANIC and Reformation.

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher is a really unique brand in that they’ve always been focused on the environment and sustainability although they’ve only recently weaved it into their marketing and branding strategies. They fabric and textile suppliers can be found from South America to Asia and they source sustainable materials like organic cotton and alpaca.

They have a full-time supply chain transparency specialist on hand for supply chain mapping and their goal is to reach 100% traceability in the near future. They have great relationships with suppliers and producers and make a point of being transparent about these sources, relationships, the condition of their facilities, how they treat their workers, etc. which shoppers can discover on the company website.

Another move to integrate the supply chain is moving more production into New York and California. They compare their 25% American production to the industry-wide percentage of 3% of American garments produced on U.S. soil. They’re gradually shifting more locally for greater flexibility, reduced turnaround time and, of course, to decrease their carbon footprint.

They regularly visit with their domestic and international manufacturing facilities and ensure all collaborators (vendors included) share and act on the environmental and social values and beliefs found at Eileen Fisher.

Eileen Fisher is raising the bar and setting new standards for eco-responsible brands in fashion. They make attractive garments with sustainable fibers, safe dyes, they’re increasingly sustainable and they make sure that all of the people along the supply chain are receiving good treatment. They’re leading by producing more timeless designs that lead to reduced waste and when shoppers are finally done with their garments, they can choose to look to Eileen Fisher RENEW. RENEW is a program for reselling previously worn garments that have been cleaned and sold as is or also repaired and/or repurposed.

PACT ORGANIC

PACT ORGANIC started as an organic cotton underwear brand but now they’ve branched out to offer other basic separates like hoodies and leggings. Because of their sustainable focus and use of organic cotton, they made sure to fully certify their supply chain with the trusted Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The certification means a lot of things, including that any chemicals used were not toxic and are biodegradable and that they haven’t sourced from GMO plants.

As for the designs featuring less than 70% organic cotton, they’re certified by Organic Cotton Standard instead. Like Eileen Fisher, PACT also makes sure their environmental and social values are held throughout their supply chain. They work with a Fair Trade USA certified factory in India so they know their products are manufactured in an environment where farmers and factory workers enjoy living wages, overtime pay, work transportation, meals and other benefits in a safety and healthy conditions.

Reformation

A week doesn’t go by without hearing something about Reformation – and it’s easy to see why. They have groundbreaking levels of transparency, sustainable products and production processes, an American factory, innovative retail stores and style that wins over legions of Millennial shoppers. They’re doing a lot right!

While the brand has been sold at places like Net-a-Porter and SHOPBOP, the bulk of its business comes from selling direct-to-consumer. They sell online – where they began as an e-commerce only store – and now also have a couple of their own environmentally-friendly, digitally-focused brick-and-mortar stores.

On the production side, they have their own L.A. facility – a factory featuring green infrastructure, green practices and a primarily female staff, all earning pay equal to or above living wages. Owning the factory allows them to easily track their carbon footprint which they offset with moves like planting forests filled with trees. As part of their ethos, any shopper can hop online and see the amount of water used and amount of carbon dioxide waste created listed for every design.

Reformation uses vintage materials, deadstock and eco-friendly fabrics. The new sustainable fabrics come from suppliers held to the same environmental and social standards they set for themselves. And since they own their own factory, it allows them to pivot much faster for moves like replenishing popular styles. In fact, Reformation introduces new product on a regular basis – similar to fast fashion companies – but in an eco-friendly way.

They get real-time feedback from customers via social media and data from the tablets outfitting every fitting room and they get real-time feedback from the production side too!

Reformation managed to achieve what was believed to be impossible – they’ve made sustainable fashion totally cool. They share all of the nitty-gritty details, they take shoppers behind the scenes into their production facilities and it seems like everything they touch just works – from their branding and marketing initiatives to their fun clothes. Their profile in the industry and quick level of success will likely lead more brands to see that you can do your part to take care of the environment while remaining stylish and turning serious profits.

Integrating Your Own Supply Chain

Take the time to examine your supply chain like these sustainable brands… all the way from where you source your materials to the production line. Do you know where all of your materials come from or how workers are treated along the way? Do you own any segment of your supply chain?

You may be shocked to realize that there’s tons you don’t know – sources and collaborators included! Start to consolidate the various aspects. Supply chain integration can help you produce in a more ethical manner and scale with lower production costs, greater speed and a lot more options.

Ready to scale up but you don’t know where to start? Contact us at hello@scalingretail.com for custom, one-on-one guidance. We can advise you through everything from capacity building to growing your presence in international markets. And for DIY tips, visit www.ScalingRetail.com.

 

5 Ways to Make Your Brand Attractive to Wholesale Buyers

5 Ways to Make Your Brand Attractive to Wholesale Buyers

You are launching your startup fashion brand and you’re pumped up to start pitching. Top of mind is how to best position your brand to wholesale buyers. Often misunderstood, the job of a buyer is not only to look and find cool new products but really to act as an investment banker. Much of what a buyer has to do with wholesale fashion is financially motivated, based on margins, probability of sell through at full price, and minimums. At the same time they are getting that information of ‘sellability’ from a variety of sources. Read on for the five ways to make your brand more sellable to wholesale accounts.

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Innovation in Retail: How a CO-OP Website Can Boost Online Sales

Innovation in Retail: How a CO-OP Website Can Boost Online Sales

I was writing a blog post for StartUp Fashion on “How to Launch an E-commerce Shop Selling Your Own Brand and Others” (will update with link when its live), and I had an idea that I never saw in practice, the CO-OP website. We’ve all heard of CO-OPs, like the Park Slope CO-OP where you donate time and get a discount on food, or CO-OP apartments, where everyone in the building owns the building together. And in the last 5 years CO-OP fashion retail stores have become more popular. But, what about the idea of a CO-OP fashion retail e-commerce site?  A place where each brand owned a part of the site and contributed to its growth.

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7 Days to Launching Your First Great Facebook Ad

Facebook is such a powerful advertising tool. It is effective for both fashion retail brands with robust Facebook pages and those who do not have active Facebook pages- as you can drive traffic to your site and bypass the Facebook page engagement. Facebook for fashion startups and growth stage ecommerce businesses can be especially confusing and overwhelming. I’m not sure why the user interface is still so complicated.

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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/

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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.