Category: Startup

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/

Follow us here
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luxury Brands on Snapchat- Ready to Jump on Board?

Luxury brands are jumping on the bandwagon of Snapchat. Burberry, Everlane and Valentino have all become active users of Snapchat in the last 2 years. Why? Because the demographics of Snapchat have changed- when launched the platform quickly became a favorite in the 18-24 year old market and now there is an increase engagement amongst users in their mid 20’s and up (38% of all users). As brands look to actively engage on many platforms to capture the attention of the consumer, being on a platform like Snapchat has become a necessity.

Burberry SnapChat

I first heard the term “attention arbitrage” used by Gary Vaynerchuk. Attention arbitrage is the act of trading your time for attention. Snapchat is a great example of this. Brands and people are spending lots of time creating content to capture the attention of their community. Vaynerchuk has famously, in recent keynotes, given himself lots of credit for forecasting the rise of Snapchat. But is Snapchat the right platform for the luxury space? Should this be the way to capture the audience?

The luxury market has undergone a huge shift in the last 20 years. What once used to be a closed market, reserved for the Christian Dior’s and Chanel’s is now a wide playing field with the customer determining what defines luxury. Brands like Maiyet focused on sustainability, community and style have been able to make a mark in the space because of these shifts. Consumers are making decisions on personal values, individual aesthetics and a desire to curate ones life. This has forced the luxury market to evolve. Here is where the social media platforms come in.

Early adopters in social media are also striving for a sense of individuality. They want to be the first to make a mark on new platforms and the brands that meet them there are at an advantage. The recent wave of 25+ year old adopters to Snapchat will be the bridge to a critical mass of users. So where will your brand be? The luxury brands adopting Snapchat are adding a level of transparency to their brands to create a sense of connection. As a small to medium sized brand you have the greatest gift of transparency: one that needs to be curated, but not manufactured. How does one justify spending $3,000 on handbag? They show how its made, they talk to the artisan. How does one create a sense of belonging to New York Fashion Week? They show the behind the scenes with the models. Brands are even now doing specific product launches just on Snapchat to give followers an exclusive (i.e. Glossier).

But Syama, do I have to be on another platform?

I am a huge proponent of meeting your customers where they are. If you want to get ahead of the retail masses then start a consistent Snapchat channel before everyone jumps on board. You will get the chance to be one of the business accounts that a new adopter of Snapchat would follow. Once the user base reaches its height, all the small and medium sized retailers will be on it; and you will be one in a sea of accounts trying to get followers. Sounds a little like Instagram right?

Instagram just rolled out Stories? Does this make Snapchat obsolete?

The new stories functionality is a great attempt to take over the Snapchat market, especially for the older users who don’t want to start using another platform. BUT, just like how Instagram was the newer playing field for Facebook, Snapchat is the newer playing field for Instagram. More instant, more transparent and more engaging. Instagram is becoming the new pay to play space with advertisements, just like Facebook. Snapchat is raw and not yet monetized in that way.

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My Advice

Re-evaluate your social media strategy. If you cannot be on all the channels then pick the ones you want to fully max out. There are also trends to watch out for; Facebook is a pay for play platform, Pinterest is leading the way on social selling, Twitter is great for peer to peer but not for sales, Instagram is rolling out new features for businesses to optimize sales and YouTube continues to be the best long form branded platform for evergreen content. The live options on Facebook, YouTube and apps like Periscope are wonderful for event based content and weekly series type content. Snapchat is leading the charge with Snapcash and might be giving users an option to the China based WeChat platform. If you haven’t heard about WeChat it is a social selling app where you can chat with friend and buy inside the app. Again, pick your platforms and max them out. In addition, stay on top of the new platforms that launch and consider which of them are going to attract the early adopters you want to engage with. Right now I’m checking out Hyper and Jelly.

For a startup brand social media can seem like a can of worms. There is no way to start, than to start. I suggest thinking about how you want people to perceive your brand, then find the platforms that allow you to do it easiest. Don’t create the same content for all channels and think about how you would want each channel to feel like they are getting something special directed to how they best engage. Example: It’s easier to take polls on Facebook than on Pinterest. If you want your audience to be actively engaged with product development or marketing ideas then build out your Facebook with active conversations.

Brands that have been around for a while need to ask themselves: Does it make sense to be on all the social media channels? Are all of them working? Are there trends that I have not been paying attention to? What are the new channels? If you have a content team that can manage all your channels, then amazing you can do it all. But, if you are a small company and the time you spend on social media is literally the time that could be spent on the phone with your manufacturer, then you need to be critical about your time and efforts. Be where your customer is, don’t waste your time being where they are not.

Syama Meagher is a retail strategist for brands and retailers. She works with growth stage businesses and helps entrepreneurs launch and grow fashion businesses through ecommerce, wholesale and brick & mortar. Syama is a former 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

How to Open A Fashion Boutique?


 

Thinking of opening your on fashion boutique, but don’t know where to start? Watch todays video going through the essential tasks you need to go through to get the ball rolling. Listen to how to nail your concept, financing your business, to where you will launch your boutique. Hope you walk away with some knowledge and motivation to launch your brand! Looking forward to your comments.

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

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

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

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.

The Beginner’s Guide to Assortment Planning for Pop-Up Shops

I originally wrote this post for The Storefront. If you are not familiar with them, they are the place I suggest all my clients check out when doing a popup shop.

Pop-up shops should be part of a robust 360° marketing strategy for any emerging brand. However, for businesses who are just dipping their toes into the physical retail world, selecting what to sell in a brick-and-mortar shop can be a daunting decision. This post is geared toward small businesses who are fired up and ready to activate a pop-up shop, but not sure how to manage inventory and product assortment offline.

Identify the purpose of your pop-up shop
Before you start planning your pop-up, hone in on the goals you want to achieve with it. This will help you pick the right product and structure your marketing efforts. For example, if you are using a pop-up to launch a new collection, you may not want to bring a lot of old sale merchandise. Similarly, if you are hosting a sample sale, keep full-price merchandise at home. Just because you have inventory doesn’t mean you need to put it all out at the same time. Be strategic and base your assortment on the goal of your pop-up shop. Need a place to start? Here are some common pop-up shop goals:

Test new items and collect pre-orders
Move old inventory
Launch new products and collections
Co-brand and develop partnerships
Build relationships with new and existing customers
Evaluate your marketing efforts
Taking stock of your marketing efforts can help in planning inventory. Why? Because you’ll need projections and expectations around how many products you might sell. Start by estimating your demand. If you expect low turnout, you won’t need to produce additional products. The more you know about how your marketing efforts are being targeted, the better you can prepare on the backend. For well-marketed events focused to your niche, expect a 5-20% conversion rate on people attending who will spend.

For this step, ask yourself the following questions:

How many people am I expecting to attend my pop-up shop?
Do I expect cross-over audience from a co-branded partnership?
Do I have a robust list of customers who have purchased from me before?
Managing your inventory
Before you decide to produce new product for your pop-up shop, it’s important to evaluate your existing inventory. Ask yourself:

How much existing product do I have? Is it enough for the space I have allocated? On the smaller side, you might be stocking a shelf in another store for a shop-in-shop. On a larger scale, you might be looking at an empty storefront with 650 square feet of space. Either way, do some quick math in your head to assess your products against your rolling racks, shelves, and other displays. Decide if you have enough product or if you need to rope in another brand collaborator to make use of the space you have. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to fit between 20-30 items (depending on size) for a rolling rack that is 75 inches in length.

Do I have my bestsellers on hand? Your bestsellers are the products that your customers love. Maybe you can reintroduce older bestsellers or market items with special “bestseller” signs or tags during the event. Customers love to see and buy popular items—make them up if you don’t have any!

Can I pull inventory from my ecommerce site or dead stock? Having full-price and sale items together can be enticing for existing and new customers.

Assortment planning
Assortment planning is the process of evaluating your products based on viability of selling. Each season, you’ll get better at creating the products your customers want and pricing them correctly with minimal markdowns. For brand new businesses, however, assortment planning can be challenging. Depending on how much planning you have done in the development of your collection, you might need to rethink your line planning. To make sure you’ve planned effectively, consider the following points:

Fashion vs. basic items. Fashion items are trendy seasonal items that are hot for a short period of time. They are the first to either sell out or be marked down. Basic items are season-less; they are the staples of a brand and rarely get marked down.

Sizing is essential. If you are selling clothing, follow the 1-2-2-1 model per style and scale up from there. This means one small, two mediums, two larges, and one extra large. If you already have selling history on your sizes, use that as a template.

Margin development. Understanding how profitable your products are is essential. Your margin is the net profit on each item after you consider the costs and labor that went into creating it. Have you built in your eventual markdowns and sale pricing? Not all products have to adhere to a 2.5x markup from wholesale to retail. Some might only get a 2x markup and others 3x or even higher. Use your competitive matrix to figure this out.

Round out your offering. If your brand specializes in a particular item (like how Bonobos initially only offered one kind of khakis), then you need to focus on selling that one item. If you are selling a collection, then it’s important to make sure you are offering a wide assortment. In a casual survey of one of my classes at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, I asked how many tops and bottoms students had in their closets. One student had 13 tops and only 1 pair of bottoms! That doesn’t necessarily mean that all fashion brands should only be producing tops, but think strategically about what your customers need and your value proposition.

There’s a lot to think about when planning a pop-up shop. Often times, success is a combination of marketing, product development, and planning. For a new brand, this can be a lot to digest. Use these tips and your insight into your customers’ needs to create an inventory management and assortment planning strategy that will maximize your profits and keep shoppers coming back for more.