If you are starting in wholesale or are hoping to grow your wholesale business, you’ve likely noticed a market shift. Buyers are no longer flocking to trade shows in droves and the role of the professional representative is changing quickly. And, of course, the importance of things like branded websites, delivery windows, and niche brands continue to grow in importance. Let’s take a look at where buyers look for new brands as well as the best retail strategies to use in order to increase exposure.
Trade Show Attendance
In the past, buyers attended large trade shows like those in New York or Paris. Today, there are many regional trade shows, including those in Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. There are new markets everywhere. Buyers don’t have time to visit every single event, of course, and even those who do are often incentivized with trade show organizers are paying for them to attend. So, ask yourself: are your target buyers going to those shows? If they are and they want to see you, they will let you know. But signs point to this particular method of finding buyers falling a bit by the wayside as they embrace more convenient options.
We’re seeing a shift towards convenience with “road reps”. These are company employees who spend their time on the road, driving to different retailers where the buyers are located. That’s the opposite of having, or expecting, the buyers to come to you at your showroom or trade show. Road reps are an increasingly important asset to a company. Particularly good road reps will work on commission and cover their territory thoroughly to ensure your product samples reach buyers. They get orders through tenacity and determination while building relationships with buyers at the same time.
Do you need a website if you’re selling wholesale? This answer is an easy one: yes, you do. You need a website because retail store owners are looking at your branded websites and your social media pages before they even make an appointment. My recent experience with a company proves this. The company wanted to sell directly to wholesale but they didn’t really want to improve their website, build their e-commerce platform, or increase their use of social media. And guess what? It was very difficult for them to get in front of the right buyers because there was no social proof behind their products.
A branded website gives you credibility. It allows the retailers to see what your past and present collections look like. Even if you don’t have a commerce platform, you can still have a branded website that communicates with buyers. Retailers also look for a branded website for press coverage. They want to see the places and events where your brand has been featured, what markets your products are in, and what stockists you’re being sold to. A branded website serves as the home and hub of your brand. It is your social proof.
Product Delivery Times
Retailers don’t want to buy a product just twice a year. Some of my client’s best accounts want to see products more frequently than the large Spring-Summer and Fall-Winter deliveries. Think about something in High Summer that’s going to be delivered in May or June. You might also be looking into a Holiday delivery or a Pre-Fall delivery for the season.
Retailers are also looking for newness and frequency, and they’re looking for something fresh and niche to deliver to customers. If you can offer more frequent deliveries and diversify your product assortment, chances are good that you’re going to be able to really nail that retail business in 2019.
Finally, there are niche brands. In our recent white paper, “The Age of the Emerging Designer”, we explain in depth about why it is so critical to promote niche brands. We also interviewed the buying director at MATCHESFASHION.COM as well as one of the co-founders at Coveteur. We also interviewed people from trade shows and other buyers and trend directors nationally. And what did we find? A niche brand has tremendous advantages over other kinds of brands. Not only are you able to be nimbler and more flexible with inventory and production, but you’re also able to provide more frequent deliveries. That’s something other brands and retailers don’t have.
As a niche brand, you can make products that are not only at the forefront of fashion and style but also target messaging and branded experiences quickly. Something you thought about two days ago can be in play through your marketing today. It’s very important that you look at your own branded platform, brand communication, and style guides, and make sure you are niche messaging across all your platforms.
The Big Picture
It’s an amazing time to be a brand in 2019. There are so many ways in which you can succeed. And remember, a wholesale business is part of a thriving retail business. Being able to do well on wholesale and being able to do well on e-commerce go hand in hand. You don’t have to be great only in one or the other.
If you’re interested in diversifying your revenue streams and you need help with a wholesale sales strategy, send Scaling Retail an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You might also check out our white paper on “The Age of the Emerging Designer”. This is an amazing tool and a resource for those of you who are interested in more than procuring and buying new emerging brands. It is also for those moving toward new and emerging brands. Look for us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We are where you are.