Category: Sales

Transitioning Your Fashion Business from E-Commerce to Wholesale

Transitioning Your Fashion Business from E-Commerce to Wholesale

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is the phrase of the day as brands launch or shift their business models to sell directly to consumers. Benefits include enjoying complete control over their brands’ messages, collecting data and improving profit margins along the way. However, it’s important to remember the unique advantages of working with good retail partners – including increased marketing opportunities and brand awareness, an increase in revenue and a boost to your brand’s reputation.

You may have launched as an e-commerce brand but that doesn’t mean you’ll only sell through your website forever. Here’s what to consider as you transition your business from e-commerce to wholesale.

1. New Production Cycles

Shifting to wholesale means you’ll have to start operating on different production cycles. You launch your products online at the beginning of the season, but present seasonal collections 3-6 months prior to the delivery date. That represents a major shift to your business that you’ll need to be prepared to address.

2. New Pricing Strategies

Your pricing will have to change to adapt to your new wholesale sales model. And- don’t be surprised to see your profit margins change as you build in a wholesale price to your final retail price.

For example, let’s say a DTC brand’s cost is $20 per item with an online retail price of $50. Under a new wholesale model, cost remains the same ($20 per item), however, the wholesale price may be $40-$50 with a final retail price falling somewhere between $80-$100. While this is just an approximation, it paints a clear picture of why and how a shift in the business model results in new prices for customers.

3. Smooth, Sophisticated Operations

Your operations will probably need an upgrade. While shipping out of your home is acceptable if you’ve just recently launched your business, you will need some serious processes in place to meet wholesale demands. Take all of the steps into consideration, including barcoding, ticketing, poly-bagging and shipping.

4. Diverse Offerings

As you join the wholesale ranks, you’ll need to diversify your product assortment for success. If you offer the same products for wholesale as you do online, you’re not incentivizing customers to continue supporting your DTC operations. Keep them coming back for more with captivating styles that are exclusive to your site. In the same vein, make sure your wholesale products reflect the desires of your new customer base.

Tip: Consider offering capsule collections between seasonal drops or DTC-exclusive monthly product releases.

5. Expanded Reach

Look at your wholesale business as an extension of your brand marketing. Get ready to do a lot more event marketing- this time in-store and with your new retail partners. Events like pop-up shops and collaborations will be necessary to increase awareness of your brand.

6. Bandwidth Demands

As you branch out into an entirely new way of doing business, your daily responsibilities will change. You’ll need to stay in touch with retailers on a monthly basis, ensuring you know what’s selling and how your merchandise performs. This type of communication is non-negotiable. Without it, your wholesale accounts may not want to place reorders, turning your successes into one-hit wonders.

Be proactive. Prepare to increase your bandwidth accordingly.

7. Wholesale Access Online

Add a new password-secure section to your website, granting usernames and passwords to wholesale clients and potential wholesale clients only. This is where they’ll go to see lifestyle lookbook images and line-lists for all of your designs.

Also, be sure to add a stockist/retailers contact section to your website (with public access and in a visible location). If a potential sales partner visits your website and can’t immediately find this information, they could assume you’re a DTC-only brand.

Ready to expand into the wholesale business? Contact us for personalized guidance and expert professionals to help you execute – every step of the way. Email hello@scalingretail.com to schedule your consultation session today.

Scaling Up Through Strategic Partnerships

Scaling Up Through Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships can do a lot to boost your brand visibility and increase market share and profitability if done correctly. But the wrong partnership can cost you tens of thousands of dollars and end up a logistical nightmare. So the question is- how can you scale up your business through strategic partnerships intelligently?

Give yourself enough time. Partnerships don’t happen overnight. While you may get the sign off to proceed with a project or idea, implementation can take much longer. Just as you are managing your internal team with existing deadlines and bandwidth issues, your potential partner is likely dealing with the same. Appoint a lead project manager (PM) to keep an eye on timelines and both parties’ responsibilities. Bi-weekly or monthly check-in’s may be necessary in the beginning, leading up to more frequent communication depending on the project scope.

Let’s find the right partnerships.

Go Big.

How to Work with Large Retailers and Brands to Collaborate?

Lately we’ve been witnessing a lot of partnerships between larger retailers and brands with smaller emerging market designers. Nordstrom have been on the forefront of this. It seems every other month there is a new collaboration. Other retailers are following suit opening shop-in-shops, launching exclusive distribution deals with their brick-and-mortar spaces and elevating their own branded image by working with these emerging market brands. Larger brands are doing it as well. Collaborations between emerging market brands and companies like Levi’s have been giving visibility to brands that would otherwise remain small and niche. A great example is the Adidas x wings+horns collaboration. Adidas, known for collaborating to stay relevant, partnered with wings+horns on a collection of sneakers. This has taken the wings+horns brands to a much larger audience.

Also, don’t be afraid to step out of the box as long as the partnership falls in line with your brand. For example, Poketo has taken their well-curated collection of accessories and other stylish art and lifestyle products to a new pop-up shop at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in L.A.

The logistics of collaborations with bigger companies can take a while to negotiate and fructify so plan well in advance.

But how to secure these types of partnerships?

Reach out to the marketing departments of the companies you want to work with. This is your first point of contact. Even though you may be working on a design collaboration, it will be the marketing department that will determine if you’re a good fit and serve as your main point of contact.

Go Medium.

As a growing business, working with brands in similar positions to yours with different strengths can be very rewarding. There is an ability to be more agile and nimble and do things faster with a company that’s at the same growth stage you’re in. Look for brands that share the same values and target market but are pushing a different type of product. You can also find interesting cross-market collaborations between industries. Think about a yoga studio partnering up with a health food company or an activewear line partnering with the same health food company. These types of collaborations can be seen in event marketing and product collaborations. If you’re looking to partner with other brands that are producing products but targeting a different market, you may be looking at sharing supply chain resources. Companies like PACT are working with other manufacturers to buy cotton in bulk with famers. Imagine driving costs down without worrying about being cannibalized.

The issues I’ve seen when smaller brands do collaborations are centered on logistics, planning and financial liability. Do make sure you’ve got the right contracts in place.

Don’t Go Small. Not Yet at Least.

While you may get pitched from startups and brands that want to jump on board your growth wagon, be mindful of who they are and how strong your brand foundation is. Has the brand considered if this is really a good fit? Do they have a market or asset to add value to your business? Don’t just do collaborations for collaboration’s sake. This can be a huge time waster and cost you a lot of money. When working with smaller brands, events and organizations, make sure you have the bandwidth and that the ROI is clear.

Four Smart Strategic Partnerships and the Questions You’ve Got to Ask

1. Marketing Partnerships

What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) that will tell us if this is a success? How are we marketing the activation? Who are the key point people and stakeholders? How long will the activation run? What is the budget? What are the timelines?

2. Product/Category Partnerships

Is your company lending the design expertise? Who are the ultimate decision makers? What are the points of sale? How are the marketing, labor costs and profits being split?

3. Supply Chain Partners

How are you sourcing? What types of materials are you using? Is there a focus on sustainability? How often are you producing? What are your quantities for production?

4. Retail Partnerships

What are your goals and expectations for this collaboration? For my brand? Who will be responsible for which expenses? How will my brand be marketed and how will my products be merchandised for this occasion? How long will the activation period run?

When we look at the power of well-strategized, well-executed collaborations, it’s definitely worth it to give it a try. Just make sure it’s a authentic fit for your brand and that you’ve covered all of your bases and defined all of your goals.

Are you interested in scaling up via collaborations but don’t know where to begin? Email us at hello@scalingretail.com for custom, one-on-one guidance on business development for your brand. Or to learn more actionable tips on your own, visit www.ScalingRetail.com.

7 Ways to Scale Up Your Fashion Business

7 Signs You Need a New Business Model to Scale

Do you feel like you really have a handle on things and that you’re ready to take your fashion business to the next level? Before you develop any growth stage plans, find out if you’re actually ready to scale and seven ways to make it happen!

It seems simple enough- implement new strategies or build out your team and watch the additional revenue pour in. In reality, that can’t be farther from the truth. You have to have a solid, healthy business foundation in place or your brand and bottom line can suffer in a big way.

Your fashion business may be ready for the next level if you’ve been seeing success in all of your current sales channels and you know for a fact that you have a compatible (and profitable) product-market fit. That means you’ve proven your products are wanted by consumers and that there’s a sizable enough market to grow your business (i.e. as opposed to a niche that is too small, certain handcrafted goods…).

It’s also time to think about growth when you need support. Maybe you’re a solopreneur and you’re unable to do more with your sales and  because there simply isn’t enough time. This is when you reach the point where doing it all on your own becomes a major obstacle to your success. Maybe you have a small team of 2-3 people but you’re not able to keep up with all of your business’ needs – and forget about outside opportunities!

In both of these scenarios, you’re preventing your business from taking off and you’re actually losing money by not investing in expanding your team. If you can secure the resources and know-how to do it (capacity building, infrastructure, etc.), scale up by hiring a professional team or by taking on a few additional team members. If that isn’t an option for you right now, scale up by hiring outside help from freelance professionals.

Speaking of resources, what are your finances like these days? If you have the cash flow to invest in building out another revenue stream, go for it! But you don’t necessarily need to have tons of cash on hand to be able to grow to scale. You can also scale up with the help of investments from outside investors.

And finally, it may be the right time to scale up if you dream of creating something even bigger than what you’ve already established. So go ahead and chase those dreams (with the proper planning and preparation of course).

7 Ways to Scale Up

1. Expand Your Market Geographically.

Once you’ve reached a certain level of business in your geographical target market, it could be time to move forward into a new region. This can be done through exploring new wholesale accounts in other regions as well as via expanding internationally online. If you do go the digital route, keep in mind that this isn’t as easy as turning on your shopping cart for worldwide shipping. You’ll have to really dive into everything it takes- including regional-specific marketing and advertising, payment types and currencies.

2. Venture into E-Commerce.

After you’ve achieved a strong wholesale business, it’s  a good time to start thinking about selling direct-to-consumer online. A successful e-commerce shop of your own means you’ll be able to enjoy your own well of customer data, more precise branding and increased profit margins.

3. Launch Your Wholesale Business.

The same is true the other way around. If your e-commerce business is solidly established, this may be the time to explore potential wholesale accounts. Think strategically, be selective and remember that it’s better to be in the right stores than in the most stores- maintain exclusivity.

4. Open a Retail Store.

Ignore the news reports insisting “retail is dead” because the industry is only transforming for the better. In fact, for the most part, it’s the bigger brands and big box retailers who are suffering most. Why? Because they continue to present more of the same and they lack a sense of “newness”. If you’re ready to open your own store, by all means go for it. Choose from a single brand or multi-brand shop and think outside of the confines of what already exists. We love what Apolis is doing with their NYC shop. They’ve based their brand and entire business model on social enterprise with production in L.A. as well as places as diverse as Uganda and Peru via advocacy projects.

5. Create a Lifestyle Brand.

You can also scale up via product extensions. Look at your business strategically and assess what should come next. Jason Wu just launched an adjacent product line at New York Fashion Week – branded phone chargers, headphones, Moleskine notebooks and Sharpies!

6. Develop a Diffusion Line.

Target another price point for the chance to reach another group of customers.

7. Get Vertically Integrated.

Start to bring elements of your supply chain in-house to gain short-term and long-term benefits such as greater control over your brand and sourcing and producing for less. You can also create a new revenue stream by manufacturing for other brands!

Need help scaling up? Contact us for personalized support for everything from team building and market entry strategy to brand extensions and CEO advice. Schedule a consultation session today. For DIY international growth strategies and support, check out our e-book, Going Global.

 

 

Why You Need a Retail Calendar for Your Fashion Business

Why You Need a Retail Calendar for Your Fashion Business

A regular calendar just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the fashion business. You’ve probably heard of the retail calendar before. If you’re not actually putting it to use- you’re missing out. Unlike most relics of old retail, the retail calendar is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s old school but timeless. It’s your go-to tool to get results and tackle sales planning and forecasting like a pro.

Here’s a couple of reasons why you should start using a retail calendar today…

Account for Variations in Time.

If you take a basic calendar and compare this day last year, you won’t get accurate results. However, the retail calendar will give you a clearer picture of the difference between this time this year and this time last year. This is because it accounts for different variations and variables. For example, this year June 12th falls on a Monday but last year it fell on a Sunday. The retail calendar provides the sales day equivalent of today’s date last year instead of simply the same date a year earlier.

The retail calendar is a 4-5-4 calendar. It allows you to compare sales week over week and year over year with comparable periods of time and standardized variables.

Track Holiday Sales.

The retail calendar lets you understand which holidays fall on which days. Not every holiday falls on the same day every year so it’s really valuable for planning. Use your retail calendar to organize sales/markdowns, newsletters, pop-up shops, events and more. When you know when holidays occur over a few years’ time, you can accurately compare sales performance while understanding the how and why.

Of course, different brands are coming up with their own special sales holidays and sales periods these days to shake things up and fare better against the competition. But it’s still important to put a retail calendar to use – maybe even more so now to ensure every new initiative lines up with key dates like delivery times.

Determine Delivery Times.

And on the topic of delivery times, this calendar helps you determine when deliveries need to happen so you can figure out the best week to drop products. Download the National Retail Federation’s retail calendar to start planning production dates for the next few seasons.

See the Bigger Picture.

Add a retail calendar to your fashion business arsenal! You can look at your brand on the macro level- viewing a year in the past, today and two years into the future. Being able to assess this huge chunk of time all at once is really valuable.

Pretty much everything in the fashion industry is accounted for really far in advance because of the fashion cycles. In August, you’re selling Spring/Summer of next year to wholesalers while releasing Fall/Winter online and in stores. You’re also prototyping and developing samples for Fall/Winter of the next upcoming year. Expect to deal with three different seasons at any given time and use the type of calendar that rises to the occasion.

As a fashion brand owner, there are a few calendars you need to have onboard. Get a marketing calendar, one for sales, an accounting/financial calendar, another for operations and – the most important calendar of them all – the retail calendar. Most of these are based on the fiscal year so they’re not a lot of help when it comes to production cycles. But with the right calendars in place, you’ll have a much more accurate interpretation of what’s happened in your business.

Get a good grasp on the past, the present and the future.

7 Characteristics of Fashion Brands That Sell

7 Characteristics of Fashion Brands That Sell

There are several new, bestselling brands that seemed to have come out of nowhere to turn into “overnight successes”. They’ve learned how to cleverly leverage everything from distribution to cash flow to catapult sales. Let’s take a look at the seven characteristics these fashion brands share so you can apply them to your business.

1. Flourishing Brand Loyalty

The best brands that thrive – season after season – are the ones that create connections with their customers through consistent brand touchpoints. Brand touchpoints can cover social channels, pop-up shops, event marketing and both print and digital paid marketing.

The Arrivals NYC

The Arrivals NYC

Two brands who are doing a clever job at taking press and flipping it into paid digital are The Arrivals NYC and American Giant. The Arrivals NYC is doing a kick-ass job with paid marketing on Instagram. I love how they are taking one piece of press (a write-up from Vogue) and using it to drive conversion through the platform. The Vogue write-up was based on buying your new perfect leather jacket. American Giant has also done an amazing job of leveraging a write-up on Slate and using it for advertising on Forbes. The write-up was about American Giant having the most in demand, perfect sweatshirt.

2. Slow and Steady Distribution

Drop shipment and consignment can make it easy to be in many retailers at once, but this won’t pay the bills. Deliberate distribution can be the difference between having the cash flow to continue production season after season or running out of funds.

Mansur Gavriel

Mansur Gavriel

Mansur Gavriel launched smart. They started selling at Capsule trade show and instead of letting retailers dictate payment terms they asked for a percentage down with the balance on NET 30. Retailers that couldn’t hang, didn’t, and that hasn’t slowed down this hot brand.

3. Strong Leadership

There are so many decisions that need to be made when running a business. Without a competent leader, there is no head to the ship and responsibilities can be deflected very quickly. Businesses that have multiple founders need to be very careful. It’s important not to have too many redundancies in core competencies. While you all may want to chime in on a particular decision, someone eventually needs to make it and they need to be empowered to do so.

Rhode

Rhode

Fashion brand Rhode is an excellent example. Founded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, this team divides work and conquers. With one half focused on designing and merchandising, and the other half focused on business development and sales, this team has been able to triple their sales in just a year. If there was no autonomy, how on earth could anything get done?

4. Organized, Strategic Operations

Have your shipping and logistics on lockdown. Brands that sell know how to ship. To scale up orders and get repeat customers make sure your packaging is on point and you have a distribution center set up. Don’t prematurely move to a 3PL (third party logistics) provider until you have a sales/marketing/PR strategy in place (so you know’ll when to anticipate sales).

Do your research so you know who you want to work with when the time is ready. Have at least three conversations with logistics providers. If you get stuck, shoot us an email at hello@scalingretail.com, we’ve got a kick-ass ops consultant to set you up properly.

5. End Game Aware

Do you want to sell the brand? Will you always be the head of creative? Understanding where you want to take your business will help you make the right decisions. Brands that want to sell to national department stores versus boutiques take different steps to get there. In order to be a brand that sells and is successful, you have to know the end game so you can make it happen.

6. Consistent Messaging

Yes, there are lots of things your brand could be, but stick to the main message. If you are focusing in the environmental sector be clear about what that means to the brand. Your brand story should be able to hold the collection and marketing for seasons to come. Create a brand bible and reference it as often as you need to get to know the difference between your preferences and how the brand develops its own identity.

American Giant

American Giant

Five years down the road you may have a brand that develops a strong following, but your own personal aesthetic may have changed. Your customers may not be ready to grow up with you, so a tough call will have to be made. Risk losing them or continue to create what you know will sell. Brands that stick to the key message become staples.

7. Money Smart

You don’t need to be a CPA to know that money in the retail industry is funny. It’s funny because wholesalers always ask for discounts, they don’t always pay on time, they sometimes cancel orders and you have to invest money into production of samples and production way before you see a penny of sales. E-commerce money is also very risky; you are placing your own buys against sales on your site, so you’ve got to have a plan to get those sales. Do it right and you may see a 70% full price sell-through, do it wrong and you may need to have a steep markdown season to clear out merchandise.

Unlike the restaurant industry where you can get cash in hand the same day, the retail landscape requires balancing a tight rope of cash. In fact, even companies that sell $200M a year (a la The Honest Company) aren’t even profitable. To be a brand that sells you’ve got to have a grip on what cash you need to survive. If you don’t have cash to produce, you can’t sell. If you don’t have cash to produce content and to market, no one will know you exist. Understand money and prepare- this is the key to longevity.

So there you have it, these are the seven characteristics of brands that are selling like crazy these days. Get to work on transforming your brand – step by step – and you’ll really start to feel the results!

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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All About Returns & How to Write a Return Policy

All About Returns & How to Write a Return Policy

It’s easy to want to protect your sales, and never allow a return. In fact, by the time your website is live, you will probably have your product in such great shape that you can’t even imagine someone even wanting to return it. But returns happen and it’s important to have the right return policy. Returns tell you if a product fits true to size, it tells you if your quality matches up to the price point and if your product copy sizes up to the product. As a result, returns are a great litmus test for startups and growth stage brands alike.

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