Category Archives for "Business"

Jan 10

6 Tips for making your fashion website mobile friendly.

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let’s start with a confession.
I don’t know how people shop on their smart phones.

How can they see anything on those little screens? I have a big screen and I still have trouble. However, my 24 year old daughter shops on her phone all the time as a major source of entertainment.

And obviously so does the rest of the country.

I just read this: “Compared to 2015, total e-commerce holiday sales increased by 10.43%. Meanwhile, purchases on mobile devices, or m-commerce, surpassed 30% in 2016.” According to Chain Store Age.

So what does that mean to us old timers who thought having a great website was good enough?

Well, it’s time to join the new reality and make sure your website is mobile ready. I understand that keeping up with technology is hard since the rate of change is accelerating.

But as we used to say “Be there or be square”.

So here are 6 useful tips that can help you meet the bar:

  1. Make sure your website converts to a smartphone or tablet so that it is easy to see and nothing’s cut off.
  2. Simplify the site so that it is easy to shop. Simplify the navigation and eliminate links that can distract the shopper. At the very least move them further away from the call to action.
  3. Be careful that you don’t strip down your pages so much that you loose your brands personality.
  4. Make the shopping process on mobile a smooth experience. Make it as easy for the shopper to complete the order as as possible on a small screen using the phone’s keyboard.
  5. Provide full product details. Users favor retailers who show all available product information: stock availability, sizes, color choices, descriptions, photos, videos, etc. . Design your site so product detail features are clear and easy to understand.
  6. Customers want to be able to zoom in on details, but they must be able to zoom where they want and control the size. This is especially important considering how small the screen is.

Most important of all – test, test and test some more!

Every day new phones, operating systems and updates go out, and sometimes they break things that used to work perfectly. Be sure to visit your website on your phone regularly, and if you see something that needs fixing, call in the calvary!

In today’s market, where 65% of the traffic is mobile, you just can’t afford to neglect your m-commerce strategy.

 

Jan 05

Is Your Sales Team Up to Snuff?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let me start with a truth that needs to be said:

Sales is a really tough job.

Most people think they aren’t suited for it. They believe you have to have a certain personality, or they think you have to be sneaky and a bit of a liar. It’s a dirty subject that “nice people” avoid at all costs.

What a bunch of BS.

I have been a salesperson almost my whole career. That is 30+ years. And I will tell you the best sales people are hard working, ambitious, and honest people who care about their customers and want to do right by them. The sleazy ones usually are not all that successful. So when you add someone to your sales team, make sure they have the qualities I mentioned.

To be a good salesperson you have to be a self starter. A person who begins work or undertakes a project on his or her own initiative, without needing to be told what to do.

You see, salespeople need to always be selling. That means increasing their business with their present accounts and always opening up new clients. Because there is a lot of paper and detail work it is very easy to be seduced by busy work and not keep your eye on the ball. Time management is an important skill for a salesperson. Especially since sales is such a difficult job.

The #1 way to improve the productivity of your salespeople is to…

  • Train them properly, reinforce the training and observe them with accounts. It takes time and effort but that’s what builds an effective sales team. Great salespeople work in putting great effort over time.
  • Keep them motivated. Let them know what is going on in the company. If you treat them like partners they will go the extra mile.
  • Set specific goals that are challenging and attainable. Then follow up on a regular basis to see how they are doing. Giving them feedback and ideas on how to achieve their goals is an important part of managing your people.

But please remember, there is a difference between micro managing and guiding your staff. It’s a delicate balance that requires conscious effort.

With salespeople you need to be interactive, however you don’t want to be peering over their shoulders every minute. They need to know that you’re there for them without feeling constant pressure.

A good salesperson is worth their weight in gold — and they know it.

So, once you come across someone who really produces, make sure they’re happy and motivated to stick around.

Finally, the ugly truth is that you also need to be ruthless with salespeople who aren’t working out. If you’ve set clear goals and expectations and they clearly aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to part ways. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, and if it’s not you need to cut costs as soon as possible.

Jan 03

The Compound Effect and The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

 

I just read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy – for the second time.

You know you love a book when you read it multiple times.

While it is basically common sense, and we’ve heard it all before, I find it to be very motivating. Frankly, it inspires me and reminds me that I need to do certain things repeatedly over time in order to build success.

I tell my clients that in the beginning of their business it will take a while before they see results. Like riding a bicycle uphill, the first few pedals are killer, then it gets a touch easier. And before you know it, you’ve built some momentum.

But be careful!

You never want to stop and rest. Because then it’s like starting from zero all over again.

So what are the things you must consistently do as a fashion brand to build momentum?

  • Always be marketing
  • Consistently visit the stores buying your product. You should see what your competition is carrying and what your customers are saying.
  • Do 2-3 things everyday that move your business forward. These are called M.I.T.’s or most important tasks.
  • Speak to your buyers everyday. Of course not necessarily the same buyer, but the interaction is important to stay current on what is happening at retail, but also to develop rapport.
  • Refining your brand. Branding is never finished. You will always need to tweek it to make it the best it can be.
  • Which brings me to improving your product. You should inspect a percentage of every shipment for fit and quality.
  • Be current. This is a fashion business so do your research. Watch the runways, read magazines, pay attention to pop culture.
  • Know your numbers. Know your bookings, sales, inventory, and margins at all times. This way you know if a you are behind or ahead and can operate accordingly.

Remember when you were learning your times tables?

Running a business requires the same degree of consistency. You can’t just run through the dastardly 8 times table a couple of times and say you’re ready for the test. Instead, you have to wear those flashcards out.

Consistent constructive action is the key to building a lasting and profitable fashion brand.

Why not give it a try for 2017?

Dec 15

Fashion Entreprenuers and The Bright Shiny Penny Syndrome

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

How are you feeling?

Be careful – there’s a nasty bug going around.

One of the biggest issues I see new clients suffering from is what I call the bright shiny penny syndrome. Now, don’t get me wrong. We’ve all done it every once in a while. We decide on a corse of action that we know will benefit our business and then bam… someone calls us with the latest new marketing program, or tells us of a fashion show that we are invited to be a part of that is almost free (yeah sure) and off we go running to participate.

Result? Usually squandering our time and money. Bye bye goes our strategic marketing plans. Hello new marketing idea that isn’t worth your effort, or won’t produce fruit because you don’t stick with it long enough.

Shiny pennies reflect a fiery glow that is hard to avoid. New pennies have power. Old pennies are dull and boring. We have willed the new penny with charm, a source of inspiration, as we traverse along the pathway of possibilities.

The penny is representative of all the ideas and opportunities that land in front of us, one right after the other.

The problem with the bright shinny penny syndrome is that it distracts you from doing the tried and true methods that you have committed to. Let’s face it they get boring. There is promise with the new penny. Just like there is promise with a new marketing effort. The truth is any kind of marketing plan requires repitition and consistency. Without that they are useless.

Marketing also takes time till it pays off.

It’s enticing to move on when we don’t see quick results.

This is not to say the new should be avoided. Innovating and testing are important. But there is a time and place. You must think it through and do your research before you jump in.

The overwhelming desire to continually focus on the new shiny penny can be a big distraction from working on the current marketing plan. So be careful that your not caught up in this syndrome.

Otherwise, you may end up with less than a penny in your bank account!

Dec 05

My Secret Recipe for a Successful & Affordable Fashion Photo Shoot

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

It’s tempting.

When trying to keep expenses down it is all too easy to skimp on photography.

A cheap model, an inexpensive photographer, no hair and makeup person. Some people do their own photography and ask their friends (who they think are really pretty) to be their models. However, you get what you pay for.

Namely, amateur looking photography that doesn’t adequately showcase your product.

Considering you are going to use this for press, your on line sales, contacting buyers, and social media, this strategy doesn’t make sense. Compromising the quality of your photography can and will compromise your business. I am not saying you have to spend $25,000, but you must allocate enough funds to do it right.

So what does doing it right look like?

1. Theme – Decide what you want your photos to look like. There needs to be a thread that ties them together. For example you might be doing an activewear line and decide to shoot models working out on the beach. Mood boards are very helpful in fleshing out the look you wish to create.

2. Models – Models can make or break a shot. A good model knows how to move to show your product in the best light. Schedule a “go-see” with modeling agents. This term is used in the Modeling Industry when a model goes out to meet with you. It’s basically like an audition. Here is your opportunity to see their photo book and see how they photograph and how versatile they are. Use this opportunity to have them try on some of your product and see how they look in it. Then decide which models you want. Have a couple of back ups in case they aren’t available when you go to book them.

3. Photographer – There are many, many photographers out there. However, they are not all good choices. Look at their work to see if you like what they do. They should be able to make your designs look great by using good equipment, lighting correctly, guiding the model, and pretty much directing the shoot. Do they specialize in fashion photography? When you talk to them do they get the story you’re trying to convey?

4. Stylist – A good stylist will find props and other clothing or accessories that will enhance your product without taking away the viewer’s attention. They also have contacts that they can go to for the items they need, contacts you might not have.

5. Hair and Makeup Artist – You need a makeup artist that understands how to make a person look their best and is capable of applying makeup with techniques that will save you time and retouching in post production. They will constantly be touching up during the shoot to keep your model looking fresh.

6. Know what you need ahead of time. Do you need horizontal hero shots for your website? Vertical product shots for your catalogs? Decide on how many final shots you need. Nothing is worse than investing and a photo shoot only to realize later that you forgot the one essential shot you needed.

In conclusion, do your homework and be frugal, but not cheap. Fashion is a visual industry and having awesome images can make the difference between doing just okay or hitting a home run out of the park.

If you’d like some help in making sure that you get your photoshoot done correctly, feel free to contact me here.

Nov 28

Why a Lonely Website is Inexcusable For a Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales , Vibe Consulting

When the internet first came out you could pretty pretty much sit on your hands, and people would find you.

But that’s not the case anymore.

Nowadays, there are so many websites that yours can easily get lost in the noise.

One of the problems I consistently see with new entrepreneurs is that they put up a good website and do nothing to get the word out. They believe people will find them because their idea is good or their product is great. It’s a kind of magical thinking that produces nothing.

You see, it just doesn’t happen.

That’s where marketing and advertising come in; if you aren’t going out of your way to get yourself in front of an initial target audience, you’re going to lose out. That gorgeous site you invested time and money in is going to sit in the dusty back corner of the Internet gathering furballs and cobwebs.

Why does this happen? Many times it is because new entrepreneurs don’t know what to do. They know they should do something but aren’t sure how to approach it. Or they do something but not consistently enough to make a difference.

Often new entrepreneurs are reluctant to invest much money in marketing.

Most business start ups have limited funds. There are lots of things they need to spend money on and marketing doesn’t always seem like a must.

However, you have to remember that without sales you have no business. So marketing isn’t a maybe down the road expense but rather an investment in your business. The more effort in terms of time and resources put into it that you invest, the better your sales will be.

If you don’t put an ample amount of money into your marketing plan, it isn’t going to work. That doesn’t mean you have to go crazy, but it does mean you should earmark funds from your budget for this function. Selling directly to your customers on your website is a terrific way to build brand loyalty and create a customer base. The margins are pretty great too.

It can be frustrating to work so hard getting your business ready and your website live only to get no sales, so make sure you market your efforts intelligently and watch the sales roll in.

Need help? Contact me now.

Nov 18

How Consistently Should I Be Releasing New Products?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

There’s nothing like good old reality to teach you important lessons.

That’s why I like to write about things that come up with my clients.

Lately two separate fashion clients of mine have asked, “how often should a brand have a new collection?” And it’s a great question. After all, the biggest expense (investment) you make is most probably designing and producing your products.

And the urge to save money can be very powerful.

I have clients who design a line and produce it, and then wait to sell out before they start their next collection.

The problem is that there is no continuity.

You know what happens?

Their customers forget about them during the gaps. Months can go by without having anything to sell and without being able to stay on the top of their customers’ minds.

Every time they launch a new season, they’re basically starting from scratch.

Even worse, most sales reps won’t take on their lines because they really don’t start making money till the later seasons. A good sales rep is there to make money. They need to know that there is going to be a sustained, profitable business behind your brand. Otherwise, it just isn’t worth it for them.

Which leads us back to the question.

How often should you be releasing new products?

The answer is at least twice a year.

With the advent of the internet having your own website is an extremely important part of your own fashion business. Done correctly it operates as your own store, and when you have your own store you endeavor to keep your customers coming in or in the case of a website coming to your site as often as possible.

Ideally, you should release a new product every month.

This will build your consumer loyalty.

When selling wholesale you also want to have your accounts come to see you at least twice a year. However, you should also be showing several different deliveries per collection.

This way you are always introducing something new.

Your goal is to train your customers to shop your line on a regular basis.

Not only will you create brand loyalty, but you’ll also increase sales.

Aug 31

Why Branding Is So Crucial For A Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

 

We live in an era where branding is incredibly crucial to the success of your fashion brand.  It is no longer  just a business buzzword. It has become the essence of selling in the new economy.

Branding is the  marketing practice of creating a name that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.

Branding is vital. Branding is basic. Branding is necessary for many reasons.

Building brands builds incredible value for companies and corporations.  Well, known and popular brands create brand equity.  Examples of this are the upcoming sales of Donna Karan International Inc. to apparel company G-III Apparel Group Ltd. for $650 million including debt and the Qatar’s sovereign investment fund Mayhoola For Investments takeover of Balmain which insiders expect could cost as much as 500 million euros ($560 million).

Stores want brands.  That’s because their customers want brands.  People like brands they know because there is consistency in product.  They know what to expect.  The fit is consistent.  When I am shopping for a handbag  I know the price, quality, and style I like and the brands I associate these attributes with so I look up those brands.

Branding creates recognition.  There is a saying “out of sight and out of mind.”  The fact is if you’re not front and center  in your target markets mind they will not think about you when it is time to by your kind of product.  The other day I was looking to buy an everyday handbag.  I went straight to Vince Camuto because I know their brand and I like their styling.  I didn’t just type in handbags on my google search.  I typed in Vince Camuto handbags.

Branding is a tool for developing and maintaining a competitive advantage.  The object of branding is to create a relationship between customers and product by an expectation from the consumer about what they get when buying a brand.  Nike customers want and expect sneakers that perform to the needs of a certain activity.  By communicating that message and delivering sneakers that live up to that promise they create loyalty.

People have too many choices and too little time.  Branding helps the consumer reduce decision making time when viewing the hundreds available options in the market. Today we live in a culture where people are deprived of time.  I don’t have the time or patience to weed through all the product that is available to find what I want.  So I find myself going to the brands I know and love.  They usually do not disappoint.

Having a great brand attracts talent.  Employees want to work for brands that they like and brands that are successful.   A strong brand creates desirability for recruits and aids in the retention of staff.

Branding builds trust.  When a brand stands for something and consistently delivers on that promise customers feel confident in continually buying from that brand.  I like to buy dresses and sportswear from Eileen Fisher.  Their fit is always the same which works for me.  They have good quality and are an ethically run business.  I can trust that my purchases from them will always be something I am happy with.

Branding increases your customer base.  The more established your brand becomes the more people hear about it.  It may be through social media, advertising, pr, or customers telling their friends but you will grow your audience which will increase sales.

Remember that marketing is what you do, branding is what you are.   Also remember branding is not just a fancy logo.  It is everything you do from design to fit, quality to  customer service, and advertising to pr.

Once you create a brand it is yours.  You own it and if you manage your image with care and thoughtfulness your business will thrive.

 

 

 

 

Aug 11

Macy’s to close another 100 stores; stock jumps

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Macy’s to close another 100 stores; stock jumps By Sruthi Ramakrishnan,Reuters.  It is great news that Macys is finaly closing underperforming doors.  This works for Macys bottom line as well as the brands that sell them who are put inventory in those doors.  There strategies going forward should make for a healthier business.

The link to this article is below.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/macys-says-shut-100-stores-122009689–finance.html

Jul 28

Sweet Spots – How to Decide The Price Level of Your Fashion Line and Succeed

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

How to decide the price level of your fashion line?  This is a major question to answer when you first start your fashion line.  It is the second one after who is your customer.  My new clients find this very hard to answer.  Many times they can find the answer by shopping the stores and looking at the lines they feel are their competition.  However there are times when the answer eludes them. They see that their line can go into several different places.  So what are the different levels?  The following is a guide that can help.

  • Popular – a low price that people are willing to pay.
  • Moderate – a product that is neither very cheap nor very expensive compared to other products of the same type.  It is a level up from popular.
  • Better – this is the next level up from moderate.  It consists of better quality product, but is not as high as luxury.
  • Bridge – this department was developed to “bridge” the gap between better and designer.
  • Designer – top of the line, luxury products.

Within these areas different stores further define things.  Contemporary and young designer are ways for retailers to segregate departments so that there is more clarity for their customers.

When deciding what is best for your brand you will need to define the demographics and psychographics of your customer.  Knowing their income and how they spend their money can give you great insight to what department would better serve them.

Then when you have decided, the lines prices must reflect a value proposition relative to where the competition is positioned. The reasoning is that the overall competitions prices establishes the price points that a customer will see and compare your product to.  If you are higher than your competition there must be a real justification for it.

Sometimes you might want to offer really cheap prices but do not have the level of production that will get you the best prices from factories.  In those cases it might be best to make the product superior to what it hangs with and that will allow for the extra cost.  When you aren’t pricing apples to apples then your customer will forgive the extra expense.