Tag: ecommerce

The Ultimate Guide to Selling Wholesale

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!

 

  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 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.
  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, its 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, 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.email
  4. 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.
  5. 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 maxs@usbmemorydirect.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!
  6. 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.YouTube Video How to Create a Page That Sells
  7. 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.
  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 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.show the clothes
  9. 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.
  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 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 hello@scalingretail.com

 

E-M and Now Introducing S-Commerce

Social Commerce (S-Commerce) is the new sales channel brands are looking to exploit. S-Commerce apps blend the ease of mobile sales with the functionality of social networks. It became the new hot platform in China with the launch of Weiden in 2011, a platform that incorporates affiliate marketing with WeChat (like WhatsApp) in a mobile app shopping experience. This new “self-marketing” enables the consumer to share and sell products for a commission. This platform now boasts over 600 million users! There are also a host of shopping app’s in the US that are gaining market share: Spring, MallZee, Keep, StyleKick and LiketoKnowit are harnessing the power of social and mobile shopping. Did you know in the US mobile shopping accounts for over 21% of ecommerce sales? Yes- It’s time to jump on board this trend.

S-Commerce also refers to all the sales you make via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social networks. As social networks look to help you, the brand, monetize your audiences, they are also asking you to invest money and time into social advertising. So then how do you best decide which platforms to invest in? How to determine which apps are worth your time? It’s time to evaluate your marketing and sales initiatives and determine what experiments to say yes to, and where to draw the line.

S-Commerce App’s

  1. Look to distribute on social selling platforms that have robust marketing initiatives. No point on being on a platform without any users.
  2. Check out the requirements to be a brand on these platforms. Spring has a simple form to sign up: https://www.shopspring.com/for-brands and integrates seamlessly with Shopify, Rakuten and Magento.
  3. Most mobile commerce apps will need you to have an Affiliate Marketing setup. So if you are considering signing up for an Affiliate Marketing platform like Rakuten or Commission Junction, start the process now. These big platforms require you to have a strong front and backend to be able to work within their systems: http://www.cj.com/advertiser/join

S-Commerce Networks

  1. Don’t activate the sales functionality on social networks you aren’t intentionally active on. Example: you’ve linked your Shopify account to Facebook but you don’t even have a Facebook page you are building robustly.
  2. Don’t pay for mobile advertising if your site is not optimized for sales. This means Instagram advertising and mobile advertising for Facebook. Your website needs to be easy to navigate on mobile and the layout has to be intuitive. I suggest checking your site on your phone every few weeks to test out different pages and make sure its shoppable.
  3. Companies like LikeitWantit, Like2Buy, Chirpify and Soldsie have been helping brands create conversation between Instagram and ecommerce. Nothing has risen to the top as the go-to platform, but all of them are worth checking out.
  4. Brands like Dylanlex are creating “Shop Instagram” pages to drive traffic to one destination on a website. http://dylanlex.com/pages/shop-the-instagram This becomes an easy way to drive social images and messaging through a landing page that speaks to the Instagram user.
  5. Become active on networks that are actually ROI producing. Twitter is best for peer-to-peer connections, and Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook take the stage for sales conversion. Take down the platforms you are not using.

Syama’s Crystal Ball

I believe that social commerce will continue to be optimized and therefore become a market driver in sales. Websites from 5 years ago that were not built to be mobile friendly will need to be revamped and brands who are not building their brands through social networks will and are falling behind. You simply cannot and will not be successful with out cohesive messaging on all consumer platforms.

The social selling apps and platforms that will rise to the top will create their own affiliate marketing platforms to help brands onboard. Consumers will be looking to diversify their shopping experience, and will not be satisfied with only being able to find major advertisers on the mobile platforms. It’s redundant to see the same brands everywhere – so social selling apps will need to be more curated.

Brands will continue to shift digital advertising spends from desktop to mobile advertising, and integrations with apps like SnapChat and Instagram will allow for more targeted sales and discounts. Because these brands will need to adopt more sensitive analytic systems to be able to target cohorts on social; imagine if you could target users who like or open your content more than others. The tools to market via social will be akin to the email newsletter as the analytics and tools become more sophisticated.

As a brand the decisions always remain the same. When to adopt new technology, and how much time to spend on it? I remember a time back in 2008 when I was working at Barneys New York and we would meet with big brands, not naming names here, who didn’t see the value in selling online. Now look at where we are, social commerce is here to stay. Pick your platforms, build them out, and engage. Play with the new social selling apps out there and get your business ready to sell in a new way. The new integrations will likely roll out to big businesses then trickle down to API’s for Shopify and Woocommerce users. Sales and marketing strategies will need to adapt to this- so start turning the wheels!

If you are ready to implement new sales, marketing or merchandising strategies to your business 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.

Choosing the Right Shipping for your Business

Lillian Anselmi is part of Modalyst an online distribution platform specializing in dropshipping for independent brands. Their technology allows e-commerce stores to easily add products, receive real time inventory level updates, and automate the ordering process. With their Shopify App, online stores are able to manage hundreds of suppliers from all over the world.

Recently she wrote an article on the Modalyst Blog about choosing the right shipping strategy for your online store and I thought it would be helpful for some of you who may be struggling with this decision. 

If you are an online retailer, you better get your ship together or you will certainly lose customers.

In all seriousness, shipping should be considered as one of the most crucial elements in your online strategy and should be analyzed like any other business decision.  A customer’s experience is influenced as much by the products you are offering as it is by the shipping costs associated with those products.

In fact, a UPS study shows that shipping is the number 1 reason customers abandon their carts. Say what?! Yep, the number 1 reason. So lets get down to business.

How do you determine which type of shipping policy is going to keep your customers interested but not at the expense of your business? Let’s go through some different scenarios.

#1 ) I am an experienced online retailer with a loyal customer base and predictable sales

Firstly, congratulations. Not an easy feat. This allows you some flexibility and creativity with how you want to deal with shipping. This is a great opportunity to offer free shipping. Of course as a business, nothing can actually be FREE, so be sure you are making up for it in another way.

For example, Wild Dill, a successful online baby boutique, offers free shipping when you sign up for their newsletter or follow them on Instagram. While the store will likely lose money on the first transaction, they have captured the customers information to use for direct marketing campaigns making the chances of a return visit very likely.

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Another popular e-commerce site BOUTQS, offers qualified free shipping. For example, if a customer purchases $100 or more in products, they will ship for free. No doubt this incentivizes the shopper to add more items to their cart, so this can be a win-win. However, the key is to know the difference between your average order size and your free shipping threshold. For example, if your average order size is $75 and you need an order of $100 or more to cover free shipping, it seems likely you can get them to buy $25 worth of additional items to reach that threshold.

 

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#2) I sell one of a kind / unique items to a niche demographic

If you are in the business of selling novelty items, you have one major advantage that offers you a guaranteed win on shipping. Due to low competition, you have relative flexibility in your product pricing. This allows you to embed the cost of shipping into your MSRPs and still offer “free shipping” while making sure your costs are covered.

#3) I offer a variety of products / price points to a wide audience

In this case, you may want to be careful. If your orders are unpredictable (in terms of type of products and price points) it will be difficult to devise a strategy that works site wide. In this case, calculated shipping is likely your best option. Try embedding a shipping calculator on your site so the rates are accurate and you can avoid cutting into your margin as much as possible. Otherwise, simply charge what you pay to ship the item. This requires a little more work as you will have to price out the shipping for each item but is well worth it.

#4) I am a specialty store selling similar size products

If you are a jewelry site, for example, you are most likely sending the same size box to each customer. Use this predictability to your advantage and offer flat rate shipping on all orders. Choose a standard box size that fits a certain amount of your average size items so that unless they choose an unusually high amount of products, you should be covered. Customers will like the transparency and easy to understand policy. Don’t forget to always adjust rates based on current pricing outlined by each carrier.

For example, HERE is a great guide on the new pricing announced by USPS for 2016.

 

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In conclusion, there is no one size fits all for shipping policies and it is best to take a deep dive into your customer base and understand what will work for them and for your business.

If you are interested in joining Modalyst, please sign up for a FREE TRIAL here. Modalyst is offering the Scaling Retail community a discount on membership so mention Scaling Retail in your sign up form to be eligible. Email Lillian@modalyst.co with any questions.

Video: Retail Roundup: Small Biz Tech- FlixStock & Celery


Audio Only:

www.ScalingRetail.com
@ScalingRetail

Small businesses have many options to choose from when looking at technologies for your fashion business. Today we discuss FlixStock (www.FlixStock.com) and Celery (www.trycelery.com). As this is a hot topic we will be discussing many options over the next few episodes of the Retail Roundup.

Hi, and welcome to Scaling Retail. This is Syama Meagher. This week I’d like to chat with you about fashion retail technologies. So you’ve heard a lot about eCommerce start-ups, dozens of businesses that are launching on eCommerce. But did you know that there are tons of businesses out there that are there to help make you do your job better, easier, and faster? A couple of these companies might surprise you, but you’ll find, and through doing a lot of due diligence and research, that ultimately you’ll be able to save money and hopefully keep your eye on the bottom line, which is sales.

First company I’d like to chat with you about is called FlixStock. Now, FlixStock is pretty innovative and kind of something you might have already thought about once upon a time when trying to get products up on your website. As we all know, to have a really efficient eCommerce presence and to be able to pull together LookBooks and other types of marketing collateral we need to have images that are easy and ready to go.

Lifestyle images, images to scale, and how do we find the time and the resources to pull together a photo shoot, hair and make-up, and the like. Well, FlixStock has come along and made the process a little bit easier. Through them you are able to send them your still images front and back and the side angles and they will go ahead and scale those images to you to the size that you need showing scale. So, of course, if you’re selling a handbag you want to be able to show the handbag to the scale of let’s say a lipstick or something where your customer really gets an idea of how big the product is.

In addition, they’ll be able to take your products and help you get those on models. So what does that mean? You get to choose from hundreds of different types of models as well as lifestyle shots and they’re going to go ahead and superimpose your images of product onto those models. They do it through seamless technology and they do it in a way that actually helps you get your product faster and it’s so much easier than going through tons of different graphic designers and trying to find the right editors. We’ve all seen some different flub-ups when it comes to Ann Taylor and some of the other brands who unfortunately done a terrible job at editing and Photoshopping, but through them you actually won’t have to worry about doing those things on your own.

Now the other company I’d like to chat with you about is called Celery. Celery’s pretty new. I recently just found out about them, but what I thought was so cool is that what they’re doing is allowing designers and brands to pre-sell their items in a very easy, easy way. So what does that mean for you? Well, if you’re working on a new collection and you’ve secured manufacturing, but you want to get an idea of the markets and if the products going to go, you go ahead and sign up through them and you can put your product on there, put the copy and start testing.

This is extremely valuable for you because, of course, you want to get an idea of what customers want. How can you refine your assortment and edit that process before you take it to buyers and before you start approaching boutiques? Of course, there are tons of other fashion retail brands out there and lots of retail tech companies. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time this week to chat about more of them. However, if you have any questions or want to talk more please feel free to email me, Syama@ScalingRetail.com. And I look forward to seeing you next week. Have a great weekend.

Video: Retail Roundup: Warby Parker, Offline Strategies & Small Ecommerce Businesses

This week we look at Warby Parker and their offline marketing strategies. We discuss ways in which small businesses can implement similar strategies.Audio Only:

Hi and welcome to the Retail Roundup. This is Syama from Scaling Retail.

This week I would like to talk to you about a recent interview given by the CEO, Warby Parker at the NRF’s retail big show. In this interview, it was really fantastic. He was illustrating the different offline opportunities
that they were able to capture last year.

One of them being a mobile salon of eye glasses that they were able to have their customers try on new products and take photos in them and ultimately
build some social campaign and awareness around that. The important element to realize here is all marketing efforts kind of come with a return on investment, if you will.

So when you’re a small business and you’re looking to really get the word out there what you are selling, take a look at all the different channels of opportunities for you to access your customer. If you are e-commerce
only look for other touch points outside of the online world that your customer can be found.

Last year the mobile platform that Warby Parker launched was stationed here in Los Angeles, in Venice. I had an opportunity to give it a check out, try on some glasses, and ultimately what they are able to get from me was my email address. And also a bounce back to their site and this is extremely valuable when you are looking to build your customer acquisition process. How can you make it engaging, fun, and really will have your customers walk away with a really good experience and also this word of mouth that is so, so important.

Of course, following up all types of marketing, innovation, pushing things out to your social media channels, and ultimately being able to take the conversation full circle is really important. Now when you are doing these different channels, looking at your return on investment, and projecting that out can be somewhat challenging. How do you know how much money you need to invest? How do you know what channels are actually worth it?

Well, that can really come through some careful execution and starting to look at best practices across other channels. What we can see and do now is that there is a rising trend of all of these fashion trucks, of course, food trucks but really mobile ways of getting to your customer. So definitely take a look at these different platforms. Find out if there is a way for you to team up some other brands, other retailers, or other designers to collectively get your products shown in different market places.

You will find that it attracts a whole new customer base, you can share your costs in that way and hopefully you will be able get some more customers that are bouncing back to your site. Always make sure there is a call to action and all of your online and offline marketing channels and that your customers know how to find you. Perhaps there is an incentive at 20% discount or something else that you can offer to them to really get them back into your funnel.

Remember if an event sounds like a great idea, all these different types of pop-ups seem like a great idea but without having a great execution and strategy in mind of what you need to get out of it, you might be just wasting your dollars. So please evaluate all the opportunities that you have before going ahead and making a decision to go for it. Alright. Hope you have a great weekend. Talk to you soon. Bye.