Having recently outlined some of the major concerns that stop buyers from investing into new lines and put an end to budding partnerships between retailers and designers, we’d be insincere to claim that the list was comprehensive. And since the reaction to the previous article showed that this subject weighs heavy on the minds of all the parties involved, we’ve decided to further elaborate on what evokes buyer resentment and how young fashion labels can address retailer pet peeves.
Simply put, it has to be spot on – both in terms of timing and contents. That means, you have to pack exactly what the buyer has ordered, with absolutely no unauthorized substitutions, and ship it to the correct address so that it arrives right on cue. Late shipping, mis-shipping, or not shipping at all is unacceptable.
It’s exciting to see that the fruit of your creative labor sells so well that buyers return with reorders. However, if you run out of stock on key items, and your manufacturing capacity is too low to meet the rising demand, you might be endangering your business by missing out on revenue generating opportunities not just for your brand, but for your retailer as well.
Your best bet here is to know your numbers – accurately forecast the demand based on previous seasons’ performance, have enough popular items in stock to deliver reorders without compromising your cash flow, and fill backorders as promptly as possible. And if the issue becomes systematic, then it’s time you invest in scaling out production.
Poor communication has the power to poison any business relationship. Failing to inform the buyer that certain styles were dropped, or notify them of the terms of order shipment, or, what’s even worse, not providing information that their salespeople need to know to push your line won’t contribute to your professional credibility. So do be attentive, available, responsive, and honest.
Nothing kills the buzz like indifference. And in retail adopting the bait-and-switch approach equals commercial suicide. If you’ve worked hard to get the buyer to order, be ready to keep up the pace to make this new relationship last. Show interest to the retailers’ business and offer to help with promotional efforts – get mentioned in the media, organize an in-store event, set up an exclusive deal just for the particular boutique to drive sales and widen the client base for both your brand and that of your retailing partner.
When buyers invest into a collection and decide to introduce it to their customers, they already have a clear vision as to where this line fits in their store in terms of aesthetic, cultural context, and price point. So if the designer drastically changes any of these the next season, the retailer’s carefully calculated strategy falls apart, as they are left trying to figure out how to ensure continuity in the label’s positioning for their customers.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t experiment and innovate. However, offering a consistent look and sticking to a chosen positioning strategy will help you reassure buyers. Remember, your line is a product, and as such, it evokes certain expectations in the minds of your clients. Knowing your market niche, understanding your target audience, and analyzing competition will help you secure a safe spot in the stockist’s sales mix.
Ultimately, if you hold up your end of the bargain and demonstrate commitment to contribute to fueling sales, you’ll learn to expertly navigate the waters of retail distribution and build a number of trusted partnerships with stores along the way.