Tag: retail

Why You Need a Retail Calendar for Your Fashion Business

Why You Need a Retail Calendar for Your Fashion Business

A regular calendar just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the fashion business. You’ve probably heard of the retail calendar before. If you’re not actually putting it to use- you’re missing out. Unlike most relics of old retail, the retail calendar is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s old school but timeless. It’s your go-to tool to get results and tackle sales planning and forecasting like a pro.

Here’s a couple of reasons why you should start using a retail calendar today…

Account for Variations in Time.

If you take a basic calendar and compare this day last year, you won’t get accurate results. However, the retail calendar will give you a clearer picture of the difference between this time this year and this time last year. This is because it accounts for different variations and variables. For example, this year June 12th falls on a Monday but last year it fell on a Sunday. The retail calendar provides the sales day equivalent of today’s date last year instead of simply the same date a year earlier.

The retail calendar is a 4-5-4 calendar. It allows you to compare sales week over week and year over year with comparable periods of time and standardized variables.

Track Holiday Sales.

The retail calendar lets you understand which holidays fall on which days. Not every holiday falls on the same day every year so it’s really valuable for planning. Use your retail calendar to organize sales/markdowns, newsletters, pop-up shops, events and more. When you know when holidays occur over a few years’ time, you can accurately compare sales performance while understanding the how and why.

Determine Delivery Times.

This calendar helps you determine when deliveries need to happen so you can figure out the best week to drop products. Download the National Retail Federation’s retail calendar to start planning production dates for the next few seasons.

See the Bigger Picture.

Add a retail calendar to your fashion business arsenal! You can look at your brand on the macro level- viewing a year in the past, today and two years into the future. Being able to assess this huge chunk of time all at once is really valuable.

Pretty much everything in the fashion industry is accounted for really far in advance because of the fashion cycles. In August, you’re selling Spring/Summer of next year to wholesalers while releasing Fall/Winter online and in stores. You’re also prototyping and developing samples for Fall/Winter of the next upcoming year. Expect to deal with three different seasons at any given time and use the type of calendar that rises to the occasion.

As a fashion brand owner, there are a few calendars you need to have onboard. Get a marketing calendar, one for sales, an accounting/financial calendar, another for operations and – the most important calendar of them all – the retail calendar. Most of these are based on the fiscal year so they’re not a lot of help when it comes to production cycles. But with the right calendars in place, you’ll have a much more accurate interpretation of what’s happened in your business.

Get a good grasp on the past, the present and the future.

Amazon & Rebecca Minkoff Ditch Cashiers and Sales Associates For New Types of Technology

I’ve always enjoyed walking into a Whole Foods and being able to ask a sales associate to give me qualitative information about products. In fact their experience can largely sway an opinion. Think about ordering food at a restaurant- ever asked the waiter what’s the best on the menu and order that? What if the waiter wasn’t there and every time you ordered something you had to guess what to order? Or have you ever wanted to buy something that went with your outfit, but no one was there to give an opinion? How frustrating.

Taking away key decision making drivers in the sales process leaves a vacuum for a new types of technology to enter. One new technology would aggregate customer feedback and experiences per product and segment based on your friends and similar interest groups. Your friends become the curators. This would go beyond a Yelp or Amazon review system and be curated by similar interest groups.

Another type of technology that will gain traction will be interactive mirrors and social selling apps that allow the customer to take photographs of themselves and share with friends to get instant feedback- these already exist but have yet to take off. In essence, the role of the sales associates preference would be replaced with that of friends and social groups.

Rebecca Minkoff

So then what does the role of the store play? I’ve written in the past that customers are looking for a more interactive in store experience (see the article on my talk at the SAP Retail Forum). They want events, curation, and customization. They crave an experience that is personal and tailored to them.

This is the age of individualization not normalization.

The question remains-will these new types of stores gain traction? If it works in tandem with technology that fulfills the social needs and information needs of a cashier or sales associated then yes. If it leaves the customer hanging, then these stores become showrooms where people will go to look and buy at home- a trend we started to see back in 2012.

As we wait to see what happens with in store trends my advice is to continue to think about your customer value proposition. What value do you offer besides selling products on a shelf? Rebecca Minkoff is first to market in her space selling products up to $1,500 in this new concept store. The novelty of it will drive in store traffic- but will it correlate to sales?

Amazon might see a correlation between in app searches and in store buying- leveraging its app as an information hub and who knows, maybe they will be integrating your in store purchase with the nutrition count and syncing it up with your health data. Scary, but totally possible! Lots of possibilities here, but at the end of the day customer purchasing power is king and will dictate if this new concept store experience will last.

Syama Meagher is the CEO of Scaling Retail, a retail strategy firm that offers insight and strategic consulting to fashion and retail brands. To get insight on sales, marketing and merchandising for your business 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

Crossing Gender Lines – Should You Branch Out?

Anya Hindmarch just announced her men’s collection launch with leather goods and accessories, and last month Stella McCartney announced she would be debuting a men’s collection in November. It’s no wonder that brands are moving into the men’s market; with $440B in annual sales it’s certainly a market share worth capturing. Menswear designers have been making the transition to women’s as well. Brands like Rag & Bone, Public School and designers like Hedi Slimane have only in the recent past branched out to design for women. The women’s market clocks in a hefty $670B yearly.

As a growing brand you are probably wondering how this all affects you. Should you rush to develop a collection for the opposite sex simply to make more money? How should you test the waters? Lets break it down.

First- It’s important to address that collections can be designed androgynously, but when it comes to walking down the runway or showing the pieces in a lookbook you will most likely ascribe gender. The Squad, a knitwear brand out of LA does a great job of creating for both, but you will notice that the collections do have clear cross over between genders.

Second- Aside from aesthetics, the two products are very different. Women’s sizing versus Men’s sizing and fit. If your brand is very tailored for women, you will need to bring in the tailoring for men. This might mean hiring a new product developer to help create your designs.

Third- Branding, sales and marketing. It’s not easy to just create a women’s line after having a men’s line. You will need to pitch to different stores, develop a new marketing strategy and evolve what your brand identity is. This can be especially tricky if your collection will be produced under the same name and your brand identity was very gendered to begin with. Sometimes brands will create a diffusion name to help with creating a “new” brand.

Accessories are the easiest transition to cross genders. Anya Hindmarch did this as she introduced a collection of briefcases and iPhones marketed for men. If you notice that your collection already appeals to both markets try testing out different color ways and fabrics to see how each gender reacts. What’s also interesting about Anya’s story is that she waited until enough men were purchasing her products to warrant the creation of a new line.

Clothing can be difficult for the above-mentioned reasons, but it doesn’t mean the market demand wouldn’t make it worth your while. Smaller brands like The Squad do so with a small team and a highly focused vision. My opinion is to always think big and make a timeline for your growth. If you want to expand then start thinking about it now even if it won’t be for another few years. Retail is a long tail game, so play it to last.

If you are ready to develop a launch or growth strategy for your business send an email to hello@scalingretail.com

Video: Retail Roundup: Sears Click-to-Car App & Small Biz Innovation


www.ScalingRetail.com

@ScalingRetail

Sears launched a new App that allows customers to purchase from their phone, drive to the store, and have a customer service rep come to the car and drop off the package. How can small businesses diversify their strategies? Watch on.

Audio Only:

 

Hi, and welcome to Scaling Retail, this is Syama Meagher. This week, I’d like to chat with you about some new retail technologies. In particular, Sears launched a new mobile app by which they allow their customers to participate in something called “click to store.” In fact, it’s more like “click to car.” What does this app allow you to do? Well, in essence, you can place an order over your app and drive to the Sears store, stay in your car, and someone will come out and deliver your product to your car. Now of course, there are a lot of different things that might make this a little bit more challenging.

Can you imagine if you’re driving to the parking lot, and your customer is coming out there and looking for the product? And then you have a sales associate running around all over the parking lot, trying to find you? This might make it a little bit more challenging, but it is a very interesting concept to think about, especially as you as a small business, take a look and find all the different ways in which you can start to service your client better. How can you make the shopping experience more seamless, and how can you provide them different ways of taking home your product? Now of course, during the holiday times, you see a lot of free same day delivery, free shipping, courier services and things like that. Or even free international shipping. Most of those things can start to be expensive, when you start to take a look at the number of orders you’re getting, and how it’s really eating into your margins.

What I would suggest doing is trying to find certain points during the year, that perhaps a larger retail chain of stores aren’t necessarily doing these promotional activities, and finding ways of tapping into your customer. So, for example, we all know the big guys do things around Labor Day, President’s Day, and other types of big holidays. But what if you as a small business, initiated your own holiday, and your own opportunity to do these little perks? You know, this will absolutely set you apart from your competition, and also provide you with a different way of communicating to your customer on those days, when they’re not necessarily bombarded by larger retailers.

So, hopefully, the Sears program goes well, and they find that customers are responding well to that technology. But think critically as a business owner, and as a small brand. How can you communicate more effectively to your customer, and what are the things that you can offer from a technology standpoint – whether it’s an app, whether it’s free shipping via the app. How are you starting to drive people to purchase through you, in more innovative ways? All right, I hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks. Bye.

Retail Roundup: Patagonia & Reverse Marketing


Audio Only: 

Hi everyone. This is Syama from Scaling Retail. And this week I’d like to

talk to you about the new Hi everyone. This is Syama from Scaling Retail. And this week I’d like to talk to you about the new Patagonia “Be Useful”
Campaign. This campaign was launched, where they have their customers showing that they are mending their products, showing second life, or use out of Patagonia products. And it’s something that they like to call that’s kind of reverse marketing. As opposed to showing people purchasing new products or showing how they can get extended life out of them.

This is a great marketing technique. It’s something that you as a small business can also take away from and apply to your business in the next
coming months and years.

Now essentially what you want to think about here is, what are they creating for their customer? They’re looking at a value proposition of education. They’re showing their customer that they in fact can buy their product, and use them for a long period of time. By reinvesting and taking care of your current items in your wardrobe, you can get a longer life span, as well as decreasing the cost of having to keep purchasing an item over and over again.

Now how can you apply this to yourself and through what media outlets? Well, by taking a look at things like video content online, as well as writing blogs and newsletters, you can search and find ways of communicating to your customer, the value of what you sold to them.

So for example, if I am a boutique clothing store, and I specialize in selling basic knit wear, and let’s say my customers have purchased some cashmere sweaters. Well do my customers actually know the best way to take care of their sweaters? Do they know about the special laundry detergent, or the ways that they can actually increase the life and longevity? Perhaps once or twice a year you can send out an email that gives them suggestions on adding cedar blocks or buying special cashmere shampoos and things like that.

These are not only ways of up-selling, because of course you’re showing them additional products that maybe you do or don’t carry, but you’re showing an interest in value into your customer’s purchasing history, as well as the items they currently have in their closet. This establishes you as not only a resource for them to go shopping to, but also a partner, in terms of their wardrobe and really adding value to their life in general.

Hopefully that was helpful guys. See you next week. Bye.