Tag: entrepreneur

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

 

More Subway & Less Runway, Getting Wearable Tech In Front of Buyers

I love Hussein Chalayan. To me he is the originator of wearable technology. While his pieces are more runway and less subway, I believe that he crosses the barriers between the tech imaginary and fashion- simply amazing. The new wave of fashion tech designers are looking to go beyond the runway and start to make products that can be added to the closet and worn regularly.

Fashion Tech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology and fashion can mean many things, not just adding lights to a jacket. Designers these days are looking to create new materials, fibers and design products that are symbiotic with your lifestyle- aesthetics first. While designers have been playing with new wearable tech products for a few years it has yet to be taken seriously by the mass market. Maybe because wearable tech sounds funny?

Aside from renaming the industry (a personal thought), there needs to be a platform to sell these products. Do they fit in the advanced contemporary market? Is it aspirational luxury? How does one classify? Tech News reported back in April that TopShop was sponsoring a contest with Imarks to support brands in gaining visibility from buyers. TopShop was also providing free business education and mentoring. Its important to see relevant players in the retail space get behind fostering new talent especially in wearable tech since the field is very young.

Fashion tech

Just a couple weeks ago, Mashable reported on the new press on nails by Oyster that allow you to hop on your subway ride with your nails! Talk about simplicity.

For designers who are interested in innovating into wearable tech I suggest signing up for the Third Wave Fashion blog. They are one of the first accelerator programs specifying in fashion technology. If you happen to live in Paris, I suggest checking out the accelerator program sponsored by Galeries Lafayette: Lafayette Plug & Play. It is a dual program between Paris and Silicon Valley. You will get the opportunity to be mentored by VP’s at Birchbox, Galeries Lafayette and Farfetch, and have the opportunity to work with VC’s in shaping your business. You can apply here.

As the former Director of startup, AHAlife, I know how amazing and energizing it can be to work in the tech space. It can also be demanding. There are unchartered waters you are entering and unlike traditional business models you are mastering the synergy between U/X, utility and product. There is more on the line when you work with investors, so I suggest taking your product ideas to platforms like Indiegogo (check out this cool campaign by Zenta) where you can crowdfund the resources to play with new ideas. I remember backing a project that ultimately never came to market (FIN), and I wonder how many other projects on this list will never ship (Digital Trends). But that is part of the fun of it. We are in an age of exploring. What you make today might be irrelevant next year. We all know that we need to wear pants, so I guess if we wanted to play it safe we would go into that market. But that’s just not the beauty of life. We were all meant to make something happen, and if fashion tech speaks to you “Bon Chance”.

I am a retail strategist and consultant for startup and growth stage fashion brands and retailers. Working through a business model? 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.

How to Buy Back Your Time: Mindfulness & Technology

 

It seems like an oxymoron right? Mindfulness and Technology? Yes, technology can help with buying back your time as an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is a life long commitment and can be frustrating, but with these tips you can make your life a little easier.

Schedule out your emails with Boomerang, a Gmail intergrated system that is totally FREE!
http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

Easy to use CRM system also FREE!
https://www.streak.com/

Scheduling software such as Hootsuite really helps getting your captivating content out there and constantly engaging with your audience.

Get more tips by downloading my Ebook Mindfulness for Entrepreneurs by me and Michael Kass

Mindfulness for Entrepreneurs- ebook

Did you find this video helpful? Need more tips? Leave a comment below, so we can chat!

Thank you for watching.

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/

Contact Syama for any questions: Syama@scalingretail.com

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


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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.

Custom Blazers: Maddy Maxey

Interesting interview with Maddy Maxy from Open Forum. Its exciting to see  a woman learning code and enter into fashion tech on her own.

TAKEAWAY: Getting scrappy is important, if even to learn the elements you may need to eventually hire out for.

“Maddy Maxey is determined to be perpetually caffeinated. It’s a strategy integral to her success. “I think it’s important to have coffee with as many interesting people as you can. As your network grows, it gets easier to receive input on your business ideas,” she says. “I have three coffee meetings today, which is great because I happen to love coffee.”

Maxey is an idea-generating machine. Interested in fashion, she began taking sewing classes at 8 years old and landed a summer internship with Tommy Hilfiger at age 16. Maxey graduated from a San Diego high school in spring 2011 and went straight to Parsons The New School for Design in New York City on scholarship, determined to be a fashion designer.

It wasn’t too long, though, before school started to bore her. She quit after one semester and, in spring 2012, launched Madison Maxey, a custom-made line of women’s blazers. Also interested in computer programming, Maxey taught herself to code and came up with the idea for a software company that would help speed up the garment-making process, by turning a photo of a customer into a pattern that would fit that customer perfectly.

Now all she needed was money. She was granted a Thiel Fellowship, where she received $100,000 toward her business goal and agreed not to go back to college for two years. Today, at 20 years old, she is working hard to make her dreams of fashion innovation a reality.

 

How did you develop an interest in fashion?

My dad was 6’6”, and he had to sew a lot of his own clothes while I was growing up. I found that interesting, so I decided to take sewing classes when I was young and it just went from there.

When I was in high school, I made a commitment to sew one garment per week, just to learn. I made costumes for school plays, and a few times girls hired me to make their prom dresses.

Why did you decide to quit Parsons after one semester?

I enjoyed school, but realized that the experience I had in high school and during internships was the same thing others were going to college for. They were learning things I’d already spent hours reading up on at night when I was younger.

How did you decide to start Madison Maxey?

I went to a private school, so we had to wear blazers. None of them fit me the way I’d hope they would, so I thought about making them better. Madison Maxey dissolved in January 2013.

Why isn’t the company still around?

Production was pretty tricky. Making custom pieces in the U.S. is really expensive. I didn’t want to outsource, so I went to Chinatown in New York City and asked around to see if there was anyone who made clothing. No one would talk to me. It was a struggle.

The price point was just too much. And I wasn’t selling to my peers. The blazers were meant for older women and it was hard to break into that market. Plus, I had a co-founder who was still in school and our priorities drifted apart.

How did you become interested in the Thiel Fellowship?

By mid-2012, I’d become interested in technology and how it could change the face of fashion. My sister told me about the fellowship and I immediately wanted to be part of it. During the application process, I pitched a concept called Meld, which is an enterprise software system that would optimize garment manufacturing. Basically, someone would be able to take a photo of a customer and translate that photo into the perfect pattern for the customer’s body.

I was granted the fellowship on May 9 and love it so far. Fellows are not allowed to have outside jobs, which is great because it allows us the freedom and time to work on our projects.

How is your fellowship project going?

Well, I can’t really talk about the specifics, but basically I’m working on getting the technology made for this product. I’ve found another company that is working on similar things. They have the tech know-how and I have the fashion know-how, so we are talking about working together on this project.

In the meantime, I am trying to be a better computer programmer, so I’m planning to launch a new project called Crafted in mid-August, right before fashion week in New York. Crafted will be a digital content site for upcoming designers and factories. It will provide information about starting a fashion business. I’m hiring writers and designers now. It is really exciting.

Taking off time from college can be seen as a big risk. Do you recommend other young entrepreneurs do the same?

I think it really depends on your track record, the way you learn and your motivation to do things on your own. I believe that if you’re ambitious, hardworking and snappy, you will be successful no matter what. You might fail, but you will learn so much in the process. Life is about experience and sometimes it makes sense to give yourself four years of time—instead of debt—to work on whatever you want to do if you are destined to be successful anyway. ”

https://www.openforum.com/articles/maddy-maxey-at-20-a-future-fashion-icon-emerges/