Category: Sales

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.

How Many Collections Should You Produce Each Year?

This used to be a very simple answer: two. But in recent years business models have changed on the retail side and on the vendor side. Ever since the market crashed in 2008, retailers have been in the mentality of buy little and buy often. They don’t want to be heavy in inventory and risk high markdowns. This puts brand owners (vendors) in a precarious position with manufacturing. If a vendor doesn’t have the capacity to produce reorders quickly and often then they may loose out on potential sales. Retailers are also looking for more newness more often. They need to keep the retail landscape exciting for consumers. This recent development in inventory management might spin your head and leave you asking: How many collections do I really need to produce?

 

Lets take a step back within your own business model. What type of business do you want to create? Do you want to focus on slow and sustainable- one collection a year? Or do you want to deliver newness every 3 months in stores? Maybe its twice a year. This is about what drives your desire for brand longevity. How often do you want to do photoshoots, sampling, pitching. You can choose the model, but then you need to stick with it. Consistency is Queen here.

 

Capsule collections vs. Deliveries vs. Full Collections

There are many ways to deliver product, so lets clarify what they are and how to take advantage of them. Capsule collections have become a favorite amongst brands. Capsules are simply a collection that has about 5-15 skus and are significantly smaller than a “normal” collection size (30-70 skus). I use quotes here because normal is a very subjective word and we all know that fashion is a subjective industry. Brands will introduce capsule collections when testing product ideas or to create exclusivity- limited number of styles and units available.

 

Deliveries are the dates that your product ships into the stores. Did you know that you could offer to have many deliveries within your full collection? One Fall delivery can arrive 8/30, 9/15, 10/15, 11/1. You can break it up so that there is newness often. And if you pitch and sell it as such, your buyers can then determine how often they want newness.

 

Full collections refer to the entire collection you are pitching. You can control the frequency by which you release new collections- some brands only sell Spring and some only sell Fall. Other brands do both and include transitional deliveries so there is newness between season.

 

One comment I hear all the time is: Why are we delivering Spring in February when its still cold out? Retailers know that consumers buy when its needed and that why the “trans” deliveries become an interesting marketing. Trans – short for transitional – is that amazing time of year between spring and fall (Jan/Feb and Aug/Sept), when you are buying markdowns in store and also looking for something new and wearable at that moment.

 

Once your determine your business model of choice its time to reconcile that with the market. How you communicate that to your buyers is critical. You have to be clear about the deliveries, sku counts and how your product will merchandise season over season. Remember, each collection needs to be able to sit next to one another – one might be on sale and one might be full price but they shouldn’t look like two different brands. When pitching to buyers you will need to be clear about your business model. Your line lists and PO’s should be very clear on delivery dates.

 

If you are selling online direct to consumer keep in mind that just because you haven’t sold what you expected to sell for one season doesn’t mean it lets you off the hook from creating another season. Too often I hear brands tell me that “its still new to someone”. At the end of the day your brand collections must evolve to tell the story of your brand- even if that’s one collection a year.

 

So, how many collections a year?

 

It’s really up to you. Think about your long-term strategy and let’s play with the new business models. This concept doesn’t just apply to new brands. If you are launching a diffusion line, a new retail store or revisiting your current business model, its not too late rethink your retail strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the SAP Retail Forum: The Future of Retail

The SAP Retail Forum is a yearly conference where industry leaders gather to discuss new technology in retail and the future of customer service and sales. This year I had the pleasure of attending and speaking on the topic of Social Selling: how to leverage popup shops, mobile and social to sell to customers. I touched on four distinct case studies: Warby Parker, JCrew, Fruit of the Loom and Nordstrom’s. All brands that are creating noise to gain customer visibility. I’ve included a couple slides below from the presentation. The major takeaway was: brands need to engage in attention arbitrage when selling and use cohesive campaigns that are disseminated through online, offline and mobile to sell and create effective brand stories.

SAP Retail Forum

I got to see amazing new RFID technology that allows sales associates to know when customers take product off the shelf. New shopping bag technology that will allow customers to walk out of a store and pay with their profiles and never have to swipe a card or stand in line. There were many “wow” moments.

 

One of my favorite speakers of the conference was Doug Stephens. Doug is a retail futurist and is always looking towards the future of how selling is evolving. He spoke of how the brick and mortar store is becoming a media outlet, and referenced a popup shop we all know well- Rachel Shechtmans Story in NYC. Rachel’s ‘store’ evolves a couple times of year and she sells square footage to brands that want to use her space to sell, test market products etc. Doug pushed the audience to think of this question “what if it was free?” What he was pushing these big retailers to think about was how they could sustain their businesses if their products were free. How would they make money? What types of infrastructure and channels do they have in place that they could sell? Could they sell data? Could they rent out space? What is of value besides the product? This is a very important question. Brands create the conversation on all channels: stores, social media, blogs, tv, radio, newspapers, digital ads, billboards, newspapers. Brands can own the market simply by owning the conversation and brands can create the data an infrastructure to become more than just the seller of goods.

SAP Retail Forum

So how to build the business that will last?

 

Start by thinking about your brand beyond the product. What channels do you want to exploit? Where is your customer? Where can you dominate and be the best? Don’t try to be everything to everyone- be something powerful and poignant.

 

Next, create content that does not center 100% on your brand. No one wants to be in a world that is mono brand. In fact, most consumers are mixing high and low. Think about your ideal brand partnerships- where are they? What channels are they exploiting? How can they create a larger conversation with you? How can that create value for your customer?

SAP Retail Forum

Once you establish the how’s and why’s now its time to monetize. Think about your valuable data on the niche market you are catering to. Who would find that useful? How about the brand partnerships you have created? How valuable is the conversation? Could you charge for co-op advertising? Create events? Think about the value of the brand, not the value of the product. If you hone in on your customer and the conversation you won’t have to build a business based on what worked last year, you will be building based on what customers are asking for tomorrow.

 

Creating value doesn’t just happen on the front end, it happens on the backend too. One of my clients opened up a retail store, and simultaneously created a distribution center and ecommerce platform. The model allowed her to have sustainable revenue streams coming in from both the front end with customers and on the backend with other brands. And since she had the retail space already there was only little that needed to be done to up the shipping systems to allow for creating extra income.

SAP Retail Forum

Ok, ready to rumble?

 

Take a step back and look at what you have already created or want to create. What is the bigger picture here? What value/story can you create? What if what you were selling was actually free? Think big, think beyond your brand.

The Ultimate Guide to Selling Wholesale

It’s that time of the summer! Did you just show at POOLTRADESHOW or MAGIC? Maybe you’re getting prepped for Capsule in NY or you just showed at NY NOW. Or maybe you’ve said enough this season and will be doing your own buyer preview in house. With trade shows abound and buyers ready with their OTB (open-to-buy), it’s an exciting time to be a brand. To ensure a selling season that sees results, follow my ultimate guide to selling wholesale.

  1. Create a smart outreach schedule. Implement project management apps like ASANA that will help you organize your calendar and to-do list. You can delegate to team members and approve and share docs. If you want approval on your invites – stop sending them out on emails and share them with your team in a way where everyone can see each other’s feedback. Every week for the 6-8 weeks around the buying season, you should be emailing, calling and sending out postcards. No response is not a no.
  2. Check your email open rates. Tired of sending out well-thought-out emails to individual buyers and not getting feedback? They may not even be reading your emails. Implement Streak (my favorite tool) to see if your subject headers are having any results. If no one opens it, it’s time to resend the same email with a different subject header.
  3. Build up your perceived value and tell everyone about it. Use your social media channels, newsletters and individual buyer emails to pump up your brand. Include your best press outlets, the influencers that love your brand and any important retailers your audience would want to know about. You want to create the impression of “Wow, this brand is getting traction, I need to know about this”. Anytime something great happens think of the 3-5 places you can syndicate it out to.email
  4. Yes, numbers count. Your buyers, editors and influencers will check your social media numbers. Even if you’re a new brand and just launching, it doesn’t matter. Most brands are building up their social media channels 6-12 months before they launch so they can get some traction. If you’re doing this super last minute – not the preferred method – I suggest the following: 1. Streamlining your social media channels to Instagram and Facebook. 2. Front-loading your channel with lifestyle, product and brand-centric images. Take the time to build your following. If you haven’t gotten your brand into great shape with social media, you may not have a chance at market without a strong online presence. The alternative is that you can start building organic now and do your big market push in February instead. No need to rush something so important like your brand presence online.
  5. Get innovative with selling tools. Who says you need a full-scale printed lookbook and linelist with all of your products? There are so many ways to get your brand noticed. Some of my favorite ideas include custom USB sticks. I also love the idea of using a smaller, directional-printed book- something that really just highlights the direction, mood and feel of the collection. You can always email the full-stack loobook and linelist to the buyer. Another favorite tactic is to do a 4-week postcard campaign with a different image from the collection on each one. What a great way to tell a story!
  6. Be cohesive. If your website isn’t in good shape, why waste time pitching? When I was a buyer, I would always check out someone’s website and see how they present themselves. Are you echoing the same message on your social media channel? When you write your emails and create branded assets, do they all have the same verbiage? Every email you send is a branding opportunity. If you do not brand yourself, you will be branded! You don’t need to spend a fortune on an amazing site. With careful planning and the right help, you can get a full-stack buildout for $3k- it’s true. Look like you’re funded- even when you’re not.YouTube Video How to Create a Page That Sells
  7. Look at it like a long-term game. No matter how seasoned you are, you need to remember that buyers are people. They want to build relationships- not just buy products. If your entire business rests on sales from a single season, you shouldn’t be in this business. You’d be better off investing your time into something that doesn’t require so much relationship-building and time. There is no magic replacement for hard work.
  8. Present with perfection. Yes, you need branded hangers. Yes, you need garment bags. Yes, you need stickers to add to boxes when you ship out samples. It’s all in the details. When you’re one of a thousand pitching brands and you get the opportunity to put your product in front of the buyer or send them samples, you’ve increased your odds to one of a few hundred. Why blow the opportunity by not making it the best darn presentation you can?show the clothes
  9. Pitch 365 days a year. Well, technically no, but you cannot just communicate with someone when you need them. It’s like a friend who only asks you to coffee when they want you to lend them money. This is why brands hire showrooms and sales reps since they keep the relationships warm year round. You should be planning your month off communication so that when the official selling season is over you’ll still be in touch. This way if you have any immediates (products with inventory on hand) or want to chat about exclusives or even the next upcoming season, you’ll have their ears.
  10. Know your operations! This is a no-brainer. You have got to know what kinds of payment terms, minimums, shipping deadlines, EDI requirements, chargebacks and logistical elements buyers will ask for. Can you work on drop-shipment, cross-shipment or consignment? If you’re not prepared with the backend, all the front-end work and product development you’ve done will have been for naught. If you’re not familiar with the logistics and operations, educate yourself right away.

Best of luck this selling season! I know it’s difficult to sell your products to retail buyers. As a consultant for brands (and former buyer), I’ve spent the last 15 years in this industry and witnessed rapid change. Fashion veterans don’t know how to play in the new landscape of wholesale, retail, pop-up shops, mobile commerce and social media. You need to arm yourself with a strategic plan to leverage the best of your brand and then build from there. Your business model may be different from that of your peers, but finding the right model for you will help you achieve longevity and success. Here’s to a successful selling season!

Syama Meagher is a retail strategist for brands and retailers. She helps entrepreneurs launch and grow fashion business built to last through e-commerce, wholesale and brick-and-mortar sales. Syama is a former buyer at Barneys New York, Gucci, AHAlife and Macy’s. To build your brand and create a profitable business, check out www.ScalingRetail.com and email hello@scalingretail.com.

 

Does Your Brand Undersell Your Product?

The other week I had the pleasure to speak in front of an audience of brand owners. The topic was how to price your product to sell. The underlying message was that while many brands start to determine their pricing from a bottoms up, cost of goods sold, model they should be looking at their competitive matrix and branding. Most brand owners launch businesses with the desire to create a product that satisfies many value propositions. Take sustainability for example. There are many ways to communicate that a brand is environmentally friendly, but does it need to be organic, fair trade, upcycled, low carbon footprint, made in USA and give back to green NGO or charity to achieve this? In fact, if it did, the pricing would probably be through the roof. Instead of trying to be everything you want this brand to stand for think about the top three things you want to adhere to. These three brand tenants will permeate throughout your website, social media, how you write about your brand and ultimately how to communicate to wholesale buyers and retail consumers. Focus on creating a branded platform that will properly communicate your product, not on creating the best possible product that satisfies all the things you want it to stand for.
I like to ask my clients if they would actually buy products from their own site or follow themselves on Instagram.  This is a clear litmus test if you are getting the messaging across. Once you have clear communication of your brand then look to see if your product can back it up. Think brand and aesthetics first, then product development to satisfy the brand needs. This might seem a little counter intuitive to all the makers out there who have a love of product development and design; the ones who think you can build a collection of products then figure out the brand. Ideally you would want to work on both at the same time: developing products and creating the brand. Though I must say that when I work with clients who start with products then work on branding in some cases their inspiration and desire to create are not in alignment with the brand they think they are developing. If you want a hobby then design aimlessly. If you want a business and to design aimlessly then get yourself a financier and create a brand that is based on YOU and know that it may take some time for the market to catch on. Eventually you may find the market fit, but this approach is from the perspective of an artist.
Lastly, the price that you will charge for your product is based on how you sell it and what expectations you set for your customers. If you are selling quality and artisanal then you have to deliver. If you are selling the feeling of travel and wanderlust then you must deliver on that- think packaging, copywriting. Both of those selling propositions can be sold at the same price, but the artisanal products that are delivered must be artisanal, and the wanderlust products can be relatively inexpensive to produce. I always suggest selling a feeling or result. Yes, if your products do have added quality features, great, but that won’t be WHY they buy. Customers buy because of your brand, they become repeat customers when you product delivers on the brand.
Think Brand first!
If you struggle with analyzing your brand and pricing strategy download my cliff notes from the talk (here) and schedule a 15 min call to review your brand. Know that you have a strong price and brand fit? Then join me at the Fashion Marketing Bootcamp to plan out your key messaging.

Go Pro: 5 Payment Terms You Need to Know

Before your next sales conversation, or planning your cash flow for the next few months you need to know the rules for your lifeline. Your lifeline is sales, and the rules are how you are going to get paid. Without understanding these terms you will look like an amateur, might miss the sale or worse yet, not be able to pay your bills on time. So read the below, print it out and keep it somewhere handy.

The NET

NET 30 is a common term and  it means that you will get paid within 30 days after the product has arrived.  This means that the retailer has the option to pay you anytime within the 30 day window. NET 60 is 60 days after the product has arrived and NET 90 is 90 days after.

Pro: If you can do NET 30 it’s the most common way to do business with retailers. NET 30 allows for retailers to make sure your product arrives on time, and they can inspect it to make sure that nothing is damaged.

Cons: You have to be able to produce, ship and be ok with not getting paid for up to 6 months from when the order is placed. (i.e. you get an order February that is scheduled to deliver in August). Avoid payment terms at NET 60 and NET 90, though sometimes your retailers might push out payment. It has been known for big retailers not to pay on time and for business to close doors because of it.

Tip:  You can offer incentives or discounts for earlier payment. You can also offer the other payment options.


 

C.O.D (Collect On Demand or Cash On Demand)

C.O.D. is not very common with big retailers, though working with boutiques you might be able to work C.O.D. into your contracts. This allows the retailer to pay for the product as soon as UPS, FEDEX, DHL or USPS delivers it.

Pro: C.O.D’s allow you ensure you get paid as soon as the goods are delivered. No waiting for 30, 60 or 90 days.

Cons: You still have to wait to get paid until the product arrives, so this does mean you have to be able to manufacture and produce without payment.

Tip: Offer C.O.D. as an option for retailers. While they cannot inspect the product before paying for it, some retailers will prefer this method since it hold both parties accountable for the delivery on time and payment.


 

50/50

This is a common payment term for small boutiques. This payment option started with jewelry brands. Most retailers know that the upfront costs of producing high end jewelry can be costly, so this is where the flexibility comes in. Other types of brands (accessories, clothing)  have been using it for while as well.

Pro: You get paid! Even if its just partial payment, you will have what you need to hopefully get started on production. Its a great way for brands to get the cash flow injection to start producing and for retailers to build in good will. A lot of successful brands have been able to launch sustainably because of doing smart payment structures like this.

Cons: You will need to articulate clearly when the second 50% is due. This could be NET 30 or COD. Don’t let there be any confusion.

Tip: I would suggest 50/50 first when negotiating, its the best compromise of all the payment terms.


 

Credit Card Down or Full Payment Upfront

Putting a credit card down is a great way for a retailer to secure the order, and payment upfront is a rare but great when it happens. When retailers buy oversees its common to have a full payment upfront, but its rare for domestic orders. Credit card down is very common, though its important to make sure that the card is valid.

Pro: Either cash in hand, or a credit card that you can charge once delivery is complete. Both are great options for you.

Cons: Ensure the credit card is valid, and that if you get paid upfront it goes through.

Tip: Boutiques will be happy to put down a credit card, so make sure you agree on when the card will be charged. Don’t get too excited about the full payment upfront options, while you can ask, its rare!


 

Consignment

This is a dangerous word to many brands. Though consignment can be a useful tool to help your brand gain distribution channels. There are a number of ways to structure consignment deals. You can do: 50/50 split or 60/40 in favor of you (the brand). The split is done on the retail price.

Pro: Consignment allows you to get into more stores and with the split on sales, you can end up getting paid more than with traditional wholesale prices.

Cons: You never know when you are going to get paid and keeping up with stores on what they sold can be difficult. You should be prepared to have a list of stores and reminders to follow up with them on your calendar. Don’t expect for the retailers to get in touch with you.

Tip: Don’t give consignment a bad name by letting it ruin your business. You should use it intelligently to help your brand increase distribution.

 

With so many payment terms its important to pick the ones best for you. Make sure that you know your cash flow model and can plan accordingly. Getting paid is the lifeline of your business and how you get paid and when are equally important. For help with your business model, sales strategy and creating a sustainable business model send me an email: syama@scalingretail.com.

The Truth About Fashion Business Cards

The Truth about Fashion Business Cards

Who doesn’t love getting fresh business cards? There are so many options these days: embossing, extra smooth, textured. You might even have a slight obsession a la Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) “Look at that subtle off-white coloring; the tasteful thickness of it… Oh my God, it even has a watermark.”

These days business cards come in packs of 25 and 50 making it super easy to buy. But, did you know these little costs can add up? For every $50 you spend on business cards you might be able to add that to your digital marketing budget. Before you place your next business card order ask yourself:

1. Do I have an event or upcoming opportunity to hand these out?
2. Will these cards be used to go out with sales kits or customer orders?
3. Have I finalized my branding and company identity? Am I proud of what my branding says about my business?

If you answered YES to any of these then you are ready to create fashion business cards for your brand. Here are some innovative ways to do smart business cards.

1. Use your business cards as a smart marketing tool by adding a special code on it. Maybe it gets someone a free gift or discount when they enter it on your site.
2. Show a lifestyle image from your lookbook on the front of the business cards for the particular season you are selling. Buy in small quantities so you can re-up next season.
3. Illustrate one of your brand values on the front. This could be a picture of your team, your factory, a word or tagline that has high impact. Until your brand name is well known, you want people to associate your brand with something that resonates.

There are lots of other ways to get creative with fashion business cards, but please never spend a dollar on them unless you have a plan to get rid of them! If you need to revisit your cash flow, marketing and sales strategies give me a ring and lets get to work (syama@scalingretail.com). No more spending money on things that don’t work for you.

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

5 Ways to Make Your Fashion Business Profitable in Year One

This post was originally written for Create & Cultivate by me (Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail).  Create & Cultivate Is an Online Platform & Conference Series for Female Entrepreneurs in the Digital Space. Its such a useful post, I wanted to make sure my readers saw it.

Year one for every business can look very differently. This guide is for brands that already have a strong foundation (year 0) under their belt. Year zero is your startup phase and those startup costs should be considered separately. Some of those costs may include: Branding, Pricing, Website, Samples, Manufacturing, Marketing Plan, Sales Plan, Assortment Plan, and a Cash Flow Plan. While in year zero you are also determining if you will be a collection based brand (a brand that sells tops, bottom, dresses – a whole collection) or if you will be an item driven brand (a brand that focuses on making one particular kind of product – think Bonobos when they first launched). If you want to create a brand with a budget in mind, start with item driven products then expand later.

 

To make a business profitable your revenue needs to surpass your expenses.

 

  1. Know what you will spend money on this year, and cut accordingly. Make a list of all the activities for the year you think you will spend money on (marketing, photoshoots etc.) then start to rank them in order of costs and potential revenue (its tough to know exactly in year one what will make you money). Focus on only the top 3-5 opportunities. Brands waste a lot of money doing a lot of marketing activities poorly.
  2. Leverage networks to get things done and give yourself enough time to do it. When minimizing cost you need to trade off with time. Example: The less money you want to spend on hiring a graphic designer, the longer it will take to find a good one that is in your budget. This is especially the case when looking to leverage your current networks to execute on something. Your friend who is really good at X may not have the bandwidth to do you a favor for 3 months. So, plan accordingly. Star by making a list of everything you need to get done for your business, for this example we will use a selling campaign. You will need to hire Photography, Hair, Makeup, and Graphic Designers etc. Your next list should be everyone you know in your network, including Facebook Groups and other groups you are a part of. Finally have a list of things you can do for others. When writing the post message include your offer and see who is open to trades. The low end of a photoshoot done professionally can run you $5,000, so if you have the time to pull this off working within your networks, you might save a chunk of change.
  3. Don’t produce excess inventory unless there is demand. I’d rather you create demand through having a strong social media profile and 2-3 units on hand per item to sell online then to produce to your manufacturers minimum at a lower price and get stuck with aging goods. These days’ brands are launching with strong social media 6 months to a year out before the product launched. Why? To create demand, so when the products are available for sale, there is an audience. You do need some product to fulfill demand when your site launches, but wouldn’t you rather sell out and start to build demand, then have a lot on hand?
  4. Focus on Selling IRL. It takes time to build your ecommerce following, and to get picked up by wholesale retail accounts. I have noticed that my clients who focus on selling in real life at markets, friends and family events, trunk shows and through co-branded popup events see a far higher increase in sales right away. This is because people can touch and feel your collection and you can sell to them with your charm and passion for your product. Build each event with a 360* marketing strategy to take advantage of every dollar spent. Example: Have a friend at the event taking pics for social media, give shoppers 10% off if they follow you on IG, and sell samples/damages at a big discount to get rid of inventory you cant normally sell.
  5. Stop Treating Your Business Like a Hobby. Hopefully, since you are reading this, you actually want to make money in this business. This means you cannot have a 4-hour workweek or magically have a business you love. It’s just not possible. You should be clocking in 60 + hour workweeks if you are really hustling. If you have a day job, that means you are working on this nights and weekends and lunches. You need a plan of action. For every dollar that you spend and every hour that you spend on your business you need to outline the 3 ROI’s you are getting. Those ROI’s (return on investment) won’t always have financial implications, but they might have brand awareness implications and that absolutely will help you in getting sales. It takes the average brand 18 months of selling to really see a pick up in sales and to understand their customer. 18 months means 3 seasons of pitching, product development, sample making etc.

 

 

There is no magic wand to make your business profitable in year one, but there is smart planning and smart execution that can get you there. How you set up and manage your business goals and brand vision can bring you closer to profitability. But keep in mind, the industry is not set up so that the brands with the most exposure, press and sales make the most profit. In fact, many highly visible brands are in debt. But, by following the tips above you will keep yourself on the safer side of cash flow management and be a stronger, wiser CEO for it.

Foundation: Selling Tips + Videos!

Sales are the lifeline of your business. No sales, no business. So its very important to develop your sales strategy. Your strategy might include ecommerce, wholesale, popup shops, consignment, and drop-shipment amongst others. This blog post we will discuss the 1st step to selling ecommerce and the 1st step to launching wholesale. For more advice on increasing sales, and growing your business check out Scaling Retail TV or schedule a consultation.

1st Step to Selling Ecommerce

Make sure you have a presentable site that is optimized for sales. Your website is your first impression- so do it right the first time!

Backend: SEO optimize each page, SEO optimize each image, make sure your social media links actually go to the right pages and click out of your site. Review your shipping and return policies, and your FAQ’s. Make sure you integrate your email popup with your email provider.

Front End: Do you have your Instagram images integrated to your site? Do you have enough photographs to change your homepage each month? Are your product pages easy to read? Are your pictures high resolution and zoomable? Do you have an editorial merchandising strategy for each month? Get all the juicy details of your products and your “about” statements out in a clear and concise way.

Videos >>>>>>

Ecommerce 

If you need a step by step guide to building your site pick up a copy of Creating Fashion Websites that Sell. 

1st Step to Selling Wholesale

Wholesale is scary and hard work. You are constantly pitching and retailers are comparing your brand to others. Your brand that you have spent a lot of time and energy building! 

My #1 to getting started selling to buyers is to master this formula: Product + Pricing + Persistency + Proof.

Product: Get your product down perfectly, know that they have an audience and you should have some selling history in small selling arenas.

Price: Make sure you are competitively priced. Look at your competitive matrix.

Persistency: Develop a thick skin. Not getting a response doesn’t mean no, just not right now. Keep emailing, mailing out postcards and calling.

Proof: Build your social proof. Instagram should be your #1 Channel to develop right now. Post 3x a day and make sure its a combo of lifestyle, brand and product. Don’t forget how importance of engagement! Buyers want to see that you have a market.

Videos >>>>>>

Wholesale

If you need a more indepth overview on how to start wholesale, sign up for the How To Sell to Barneys & Boutiques Webinar.

 

Good Luck with getting your sales strategy off the ground, and let me know how it works for you!