Category Archives for "Sales"

Jun 20

How Do You Know If Your Fashion Brand Is Really Good?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

One of the worst situations I have to deal with is speaking with new brands who truly believe their collection is far superior to the reality.  I am not saying I’m always right but I have a fairly good sense of what it takes to be successful. So when I see a line that needs work, I always tell the truth.

As the saying goes, Praise makes you feel good but critique makes you better.

The clearest way to know is if customers are buying it.  Consumers vote with their wallets.  The more sales you are doing the better your brand is.  Of course if they are returning it to the store because the quality is poor or the fit is bad then it doesn’t matter how good sales are.

How do you know if your fashion brand is really good if it is a new company?  Here are 3 ways to find out.

  1. Studying your potential competition and seeing how you measure up is an important step in finding out if your brand is going to have good sales.  You need to be as good if not better then the brands you hang with.
  2. Showing your product to your target audience  then listening to the feedback will give you insight, especially if they show enthusiasm for the pieces and want to know where they can buy them.
  3. Try your product in a couple of stores or pop up locations even if it is on consignment and see how sales are.  If it sells great!  If not, find out why.

Many times your initial product will need tweaking till it’s right.  Researching, studying, and testing the market will give you valuable information and will assist you in making your brand really great.  Very few companies open up with a slam dunk and need a few seasons to get their line to be amazing.  And, in this day and age your line really needs to be superior to be successful.

Apr 18

5 Clues Your Sales Team Is Not Up To Snuff

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Fashion brands rely on their sales teams to bring in new customers, keep the customers happy and grow their business. When a company doesn’t experience growth then that is a sign something is wrong. While most times the problem is product driven sometimes it is the sales team that is failing to have results. When a team’s sales figures are low month after month, it’s time to do some investigating.

By looking for these clues you can be enlightened to the problem.

  1. Do you find your salespeople doing a lot of paperwork?  It is very easy for a salesperson to get distracted by busy work.  Sometimes this is the fault of the management who dumps a lot of processes and reports on the team.  If you are doing paperwork your are not selling.
  2. Your people are not on the phones.  Speaking to buyers is the most effective way to bond with them and increase the stores business.  Too many salespeople over rely on emails which takes the relationship building out of the equation.
  3. Lack of follow up.  From the first phone call to the first showroom appointment to the first order, there are many steps in between.  Continually reaching out to a buyer to insure the process of getting an order is key. I once hounded a buyer for her order till she explained to me she had to place her basics first.  I asked her what she needed and found the product in another division of my company.  She bought those basics from me which totaled $450,000.  Without the follow up I would never had gotten that order.
  4. They don’t travel to see their buyers.  The most effective salesperson I knew constantly visited his buyers in their offices.  It’s often going the extra mile (no pun intended) that strengthens the bond.
  5. Too much gossiping or socializing.  It is important for your sales team to get a long and be collaborative. However, too much socializing can compromise the overall productivity in the office. Employees need to remember they are not at work to socialize; they are there to work.

Selling is an interesting job.  It is not like making a line of clothes with clear tasks that have clear results.  It is a job that required a person to be a self started. While a good salesman must have the drive and determination to succeed; even the best salespeople can get derailed.  That is why you need to be involved and not leave your sales to chance.

Apr 07

Finally A Fashion Industry That Embraces Inclusiveness

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

 

Black, White, Brown, Red, Petite, Tall, Skinny, Plus sized, Freckles, Disabled, Elderly, Transgender, Gay, Queer, Lesbian, and the list keeps on growing…

The difference among people is immense.

The world is getting bigger, and thank goodness, more tolerant. When I was young “coming out of the closet” as it was called was a scary thing indeed. Similarly, standards of beauty were narrow and restrictive. Today, we celebrate our differences, and the fashion industry is finally beginning to embrace inclusiveness.

Ann Taylor has a promotion called “Our Pants Are Everything”. Which shows women in all shapes and sizes. See photo above

The Spring 17 runway shows saw, transgender, race diversity, women of 50 and older, as well as curvy women.

Iris Apfel a quirky senior citizen with tons of personality, was featured in ads for the handbag line Aigner.

Tracey Norman, the first African American transgender model, appeared as the face of Nice N’ Easy’s “Color as Real as You Are” campaign for Clairol.

Urban Outfitters launched a 2017 fashion campaign highlighting diverse bodies. Calling it the “Class of 2017”, they feature all different shapes, sizes and different genders.

Models with disabilities graced the runways.

The list is long.

But, what we are finally seeing is that the standards for beauty and fashionability have expanded. There is no longer only one way to look. As women have rebelled against the high and narrow standards that our society places on pure physical beauty, the fashion industry is jumping on board.

What does this mean to you as a fashion entrepreneur?

This season I have clients that are making adaptive clothing, and an athleisure company making plus sized clothing. I’m also working with a mens line that targets gay men.

The beauty of all of this is that there are as many opportunities to serve these audiences as their are audiences. If you’re open to the possibilities, you can find truly passionate groups of people with specific needs and desires. By crafting both your products and your messaging to these needs, you will be giving yourself a leg up in the market.

Remember, it’s always much easier to talk to someone specific than to try and talk to everyone at the same time. Not only does it help you keep your focus, but it will save you gobs of marketing dollars at the same time!

Feb 07

Is Your Website Stuck in Traffic?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Over the last several weeks I’ve spoken with four new clients, and they all seem to have the same nagging ache: converting online traffic into sales. For some reason, this is a recurring theme with many fashion brands out there.

You see, all four had great products – that wasn’t the problem. Their prices were reasonable and they mostly had good images too. So, what’s the story?

The story’s the story – that’s what!

The truth is you have about 8 seconds before the majority of visitors leave your site. And in that short span of time you have to achieve a whole lot. Most importantly you have grab their attention and reel them in by giving them a compelling reason why they should stay on your site.

Does your landing page clearly show visitors who you are and why they should do business with you? Is there a clear call to action? Is it easy to see what their next step should be?

If not, you’re leaving money on the table.

One of the four clients had a very confusing website. I didn’t know where to go or even when I hit a button it didn’t do what the button said it would. That kind of sloppiness causes a really bad impression.

Also, how good is your photography? Are you products shown to their best advantage? Sometimes it is as simple as using a steamer to press your clothes.

Is your traffic the right traffic?

Acquiring the wrong traffic is one of the biggest reasons your website isn’t converting. Make sure you are focusing your marketing on the right demographic for your line. Believe me, it is better to have 1,000 raving fans on your list, than 10,000 lukewarm ones.

Does your website load quickly? Have you ever gone to a website that is incredibly slow to load? Most people just bounce away when that happens.

Do you require too much information to check out? I find it very annoying when I am required to set up an account in order to check out. I want things to be speedy (It seems I am always in a rush).

Make it easy for a customer to seal the deal.

Competition for customers on the internet is high. Make sure your site is as effective as it can be.

After all, you may only get one shot at that potential buyer!

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 10

Amazon Go and the Danger of Turkish Delights

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

My new favorite company is Amazon.

And it’s not necessarily because I buy a lot from them (which I do), but because they are brilliant. They remind me of the quote by Robert Kennedy “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”. Except in Amazon’s case they don’t ask “can it be done?”, but “how fast can it be done?”

They ship so fast that it is amazing. I usually receive my purchases in one to two days. When other companies quote 5-7 days shipping, which is more common, I am un-impressed. Imagine how we’ll feel when their drones start delivering in hours instead of days?

But what does this have to do with us?

Well, they are taking the fashion industry by storm! When long standing companies like The Limited are struggling just to stay in business, Amazon is growing daily. According to Marketplace.org, “The equity research firm Cowen and Company estimates that Amazon’s share of the apparel and accessory market last year was 6.6 percent and will keep climbing.”

Wow!!

But it gets even better.

Did you see their new Amazon Go concept? It’s truly amazing. According to Amazon.com, “Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout.”

I can’t wait till they open a store in my neighborhood.

It goes to show you that no matter how bad business is, someone is successful. And the ones that are successful are the ones that think outside the box and do what it takes to amaze and delight their customers.

Do you remember how the White Witch tricked Edmund in the Chronicles of Narnia? That amazing experience brought him under her spell without a whimper.

So, here’s a thought for you.

What are you doing to amaze and delight your customers?

Hit reply and share with me what you’re doing.

I would love to hear your strategies.

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.

Dec 21

That’s Your Fashion Website? Really?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

This weekend I was at the Palisades Mall in Rockland County, NY.

It’s one of the largest malls in the US, so you’d think they get lots of traffic, no?

Especially since it is getting so close to Christmas.

Like most people, I was there shopping for presents.

However, the mall was not especially busy. Maybe it was because it snowed that morning, but the roads were pretty clear. In my neck of the woods it takes more than a bit of snow to slow people down.

While there I stopped by a one of the jewlery store chains to buy a necklace for my daughter.

The sales clerk was very helpful and friendly, and we got to talking about business (my favorite subject).

She had been working there for 3 years and was a commissioned salesperson. She said her first year was killer, but the following ones had been lackluster, at best. She attributed this to people shopping on line and not coming into the store like they used to.

And here’s the truth.

I myself I had bought 7 gifts on line that day, and only one in a store.

This is the new reality.

Since most on line stores are offering free shipping and make shopping so easy, who wouldn’t want to just shop on line?

So, if this is the new reality why wouldn’t all fashion brands have a kick ass website?

Believe me some don’t.

This is more than perplexing. Lots of companies big and small skimp on their sites, and I just don’t get it.

When you consider that, at the very least, your webiste is your calling card, and at its best a very lucrative selling platform it just makes no sense.

Considering these days it doesn’t take a fortune to make one you should absolutely have the best website money can buy.

It is imperative for every business to have a website.

The more professional your website is, the more advantages you can gain.

Think of it as a store without the rent.

The more interesting and engaging the better your sales will be.

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.

Aug 16

Why Sales Reps Don’t Want To Talk With You When You’re A New Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

Being new is fun!

It also sucks.

You are trying to find your own unique way, but sometimes it feels like no one takes you seriously.

Especially independent sales reps. They don’t take your calls or return your messages. You know you have the hottest new thing.

So why won’t they even say hello? There are plenty of good reasons for this.

First off, many new startups go out of business within the first few years. New businesses have a rocky road to travel in the beginning. Production delays or cancellations, fit problems, and quality issues plague new brands. All too often a rep books business for a new brand only to see the business evaporate because of these problems.

It also takes a rep a while to get a new brand up and running and profitable. They spend lots of time and money on the first year or two getting stores to see and buy the line. Usually the orders are small because buyers like to test a line before they put serious money behind it. So the first few years have small volume.

Think about it, maybe they book $150,000 the first year. Sounds good. But with their 12% (average commission rate on apparel) they make $18,000. For the amount of work it takes to make the sale, that is nothing. A line, depending on the rep, has to have volume of at least $500,000 to $1,000,000 in order to cover expenses and have it make money for them.

I know some reps that need at least $2-3 million in sales for it to work.

That’s why many top reps will not take on a line that doesn’t already have business for this reason.

Another reason reps do not like to take on new brands is they know you are inexperienced.

History proves that poor management is the number one reason for failure!

However it is not just failure that worries reps. It is also the mistakes new brands make with their businesses. New brands don’t know the best factories or how to negotiate prices. They have problems with quality control and fit. Or they lack marketing. Many things can slow the growth of a new brand.

Another issue is design direction. Many times a designer comes out with a new collection that is wonderful and the stores like it, then the next season the line looks like it is for a completely different customer. Often, consistency from season to season is something new brands struggle with.

New brands do not have much money.

A common fatal mistake for many failed businesses is having insufficient operating funds. Business owners underestimate how much money is needed and they are forced to close before they even have had a fair chance to succeed. Or they have trouble funding things that are important to reps. Like look books, a good website, and participation in trade shows.

Finding good reps is only part of the equation.

Managing them is more like 80%, and I don’t mean treating them like employees. I mean partnering with them to help them be successful. Micro managing a rep is a recipe for disaster. These are independent business owners. They want you to be on your game. Have good follow through. Keep them abreast of all information. Ship on time and what customers ordered. Have good customer service. Pay them on time. Give them good product information. Supply them with tools to do business. Return their phone calls quickly.

Consistent communication.

The best relationships are the ones with positive give and take. Great samples are also key. You want to give beautifully made samples. Poor stitching, substitute fabrics, bad hanger appeal are red flags to buyers. Be sure to supply samples on time.

Remember, if there is a question mark about anything, and you are new, then a buyer will usually pass on your line.

Business is just too difficult these days for someone to take a chance on something that has problems out the gate.

So, here’s the moral to the story.

If you want to attract and convince a good sales rep to take on your line, you have to be at the top of your game.

Make their lives easier, and you’ll be half way there.

 

 

 

 

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