Far too often do companies get so concentrated on chasing new accounts that they end up overlooking the existing clientele. However, successful fashion entrepreneurs know that keeping their customers happy and engaged is the key to generating return business, increasing the number and value of purchases per account, and obtaining new clients through referrals from the brand’s loyal advocates. But how do you turn buyers and consumers into enthusiastic supporters of your line?
Since building a network of positive and productive partnerships requires time and effort, you’d be well-advised to start off with identifying your most valuable customers. Use the 80/20 principle to figure out exactly which of your stockists account for the majority of your sales. If you distribute your designs through your own stores, take the time to pin down the “regulars” – people that shop at your boutique so often that your consultants know them by name.
Once you do that, you can focus your loyalty programs on catering to the needs of these key client groups.
What works for everyone?
– Whether you’re dealing with retail buyers or direct consumers, you have to always deliver on your promises. You must unfailingly provide quality product at an agreed upon price and at a set time and place.
– Ask your clients for feedback on your products and services, input into the creative process, advice on promotional strategies. A poll on Facebook can help you decide which color would work best for a new T-shirt, while a short telephone interview will make you aware of your buyers’ main concerns.
– Listen and respond to your clients. Even if you receive criticism or hear complaints, analyze what is causing the problem and do your best not only to resolve it amicably, but also to prevent it from happening again.
– Host events (presentations, meetings with the designer, parties to celebrate important milestones). It’s a great way to get to know your customers personally and to gain valuable insights into their psyche to better gratify their needs and wants.
– Do not spam. Follow in the footsteps of ASOS:
“…if a female customer has been buying the metallic look all summer she won’t be sent an offer for a men’s grunge-style shirt. It’s one of […] basic rules of building customer loyalty: keep the communication relevant.”
What works for buyers?
– Organize collection previews and presentations, both for buyers and for their clients. They will appreciate the special treatment.
– Propose exclusive terms to help retailers protect their territory. For example, offer them to stock designs that no other stores are carrying, or suggest a more flexible payment schedule.
– Proactively assist your stockists with marketing. If you provide them with style samples for events and fashion shoots, supply promotional materials, set up designer appearances, and advertise their stores via your social media profiles, they will have an easier time pushing your line, which is bound to result in better sales – a win-win for all!
What works for the final consumers?
– Make buying an emotional experience. To achieve that, you have to make sure that all your brand’s communications (face-to-face, via social media, correspondence and promotional materials) carry your label’s unique voice. And because people relate to other people better than to faceless companies, be personable when you talk to your clients.
– Offer perks and rewards such as gifts, invitations to runway shows, exclusive offers and VIP access to new styles, special features and limited stock pieces. Zappos proves that surprises work well too.
In the end, if “Authenticity, honesty and integrity” becomes your label’s mantra, you will quickly master the art of fostering customer engagement and loyalty, reaping the rewards of financial stability and business growth.