Its that time of the summer! Did you just show at the POOL Tradeshow or MAGIC? Maybe you are getting prepped for Capsule in NY or you just showed at NYNOW. Or maybe this season you have said enough! And will be doing you own buyer preview in house. With trade shows abound and buyers ready with their OTB (Open-to-buy), its an exciting time to be a brand. To ensure a selling season that sees results follow my ultimate guide to selling wholesale.
Syama’s Ultimate Wholesale Selling Guide!
- 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 doc’s. 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 eachother’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.
- 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, its time to resend the same email with a different subject header.
- Build up your perceived value and tell everyone about it. Use your social media channels, your newsletters and your individual buyer emails to pump up your brand. Include your best press outlets, the influencers that love your brand and any important retailers that 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.
- Yes, numbers count. Your buyers, editors and influencers will check your social media numbers. If you are 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 traction. If you are doing this supper last minute- which is not the preferred method- I suggest 1. Streamlining your social media channels to Instagram and Facebook 2. Front loading your channel with lifestyle, brandcentric and product images 3. Hiring a bot like (FastFollowerz) to help you with engagement and follower numbers. This is not the long term strategy simply because fake followers don’t care about your brand, they won’t buy and they screw with all your numbers (engagement, follower rate etc.) However, if you have not done the preparation to get your brand in 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 push in Feb market. No need to rush something so important like you brand presence online.
- Get innovative with selling tools. Who says you need a full scale printed lookbook and linelist with all your products. There are so many ways to get your brand noticed. Some of my favorite ideas are custom USB sticks (email email@example.com, for a free sample!). 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 idea 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!
- Be cohesive. If your website is not in good shape, then why waste the time pitching? I always would check out someone’s website when I was a buyer 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 build out for $3k- its true. Look like you are funded, even when you are not.
- Long-term game. No matter how seasoned you are you need to remember that buyers are people and want to build relationships, not just buy products. If your entire business rests on sales from one season then you shouldn’t be in this business. Better off to invest your time in another business, one that doesn’t require so much relationship building and time. There is no magic to hard work.
- 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 in the details. When you are one of a thousand brands pitching and you get the opportunity to put your product in front of the buyer or to send them samples you have increased your chances to one of a few hundred. Why blow the opportunity by not making it the best darn presentation you can.
- Pitch 365 days a year. Well, technically no, but you cann
ot 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 all year round. You should be planning your off month communication so that when the official selling season is over you are still in touch. This way if you have any immediates (products with inventory on hand) or want to chat about exclusives or even next season you will have their ear.
- 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 will be asked of you. Can you work on drop-shipment, cross-shipment, consignment? If you are not prepared with the backend, all the front-end work you have done and product development will have been for naught. If you are not familiar with the logistics and operations then educate yourself right away.
Best of luck this selling season! I know it’s difficult to sell your products to retail buyers. As a former buyer and consultant for brands, I have spent the last 15 years in this industry and have seen the rapid changes. Veterans in fashion don’t know how to play in the new landscape of wholesale, retail, popup shops, mobile commerce and social media. You need to arm yourself with a strategic plan to leverage the best of your brand and build from there. Your business model may be different from your peers, but finding the right model for you will help you with longevity and success. Here is to your 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org