Category Archives for "Sales"

Feb 19

What You Don’t Know About Sales May Hurt Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

A lot of emerging designers are very creative but have no clue about sales.  They work really hard on their brand and their product but they are so intimidated by the sales process that they ignore it till the last minute.  Then they realize “oh shoot, I have to sell this, what do I do now.”  Unfortunately waiting till the end of putting together your line and then thinking about sales will most assuredly will hurt your fashion business.  You need to be thinking about sales from the beginning to ensure that you actually have a viable business.  These are the things you need to know.

  • Who your customer is.  How can you even start designing if you don’t know who you are selling to.
  • Where your customer shops.  In order to develop a solid sales plan you have to know where you are selling your product.  You must ascertain what kind of stores you need to be in.  Or are you going to sell on line or are you going to do both.
  • Have a sales plan.  Knowing who you are selling and how you are selling them is a strategic step in building your fashion business.  Will you hire sales reps?  How many?  Will you have your own showroom?  Are you going to do trade shows?  These are questions you need to answer in order to develop a solid sales strategy.
  • Are you going to sell the line yourself?  If that is the case learn how to be the best salesperson possible.  Sales takes a lot of skill to be successful.  It is more than doing a fashion show or showing up at a trade show.  So learn how to do it.  I know some designers who are great salespeople and were very successful in building their brand.
  • Do you need to hire someone to sell for you?  If you aren’t going to do the sales yourself you have to hire someone.  Whether they are an in house employee or a rep you need to have dedicated sales people.

A business without sales is a hobby.  So if you want to have a viable business with solid profits learn everything  there is to know about the selling process and have a plan to execute it.

 

Feb 07

5 Steps To Prepare For a Fashion Trade Show

By Maria Pesin | Sales , Vibe Consulting

Moda, Magic, Coterie, Project, so many shows and so expensive to do.  There was a time when you just showed up and you could book business.  That is no longer the case.  As business at retail gets tougher the shows are not as successful for manufacturers as they used to be.  That requires you to pull out all the stops to insure you do well.

I still find brands doing little or nothing to market their booths.  Yes, many make them pretty.  They have line sheets and swatch cards and maybe a look book too.  However without the sales and marketing component in place you basically are crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.  And that never works.  So here are the 5 steps I suggest.

  1. Make sure your sample line looks amazing,  not just good but great.  You should have correct fabrics and colors in good quality.  They should coordinate and make a strong presentation.  If your line is not well put together or the samples aren’t correct it is a red flag to a buyer and will cause her to move on.
  2. Have all the collateral materials you need.   Being organized and making it easy to buy is important.  So have business cards, swatches, correct line sheets, order forms, and a press book if you have one.
  3. Teach your staff how to sell.  I once was at a show looking through the rack of a line and the salesperson didn’t even stand up.  She told me the delivery and not much else.  That was a missed opportunity for the line.
  4. Contact your accounts before market to try to set up an appointments.  They won’t always give you one but you want to be on their radar.  That doesn’t mean one email announcing the opening.  It means a series of emails over several weeks, along with something you mail, as well as calling them on the phone until you get to speak to your buyer.
  5. Finally do not forget the follow up.   Call after the show to get orders from people who saw the line but didn’t place their paper.  It is also nice to send a thank you note to the ones who did.
Feb 01

5 Things You Should Do Every Week To Grow Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Sales , Vibe Consulting

Consistent good habits and routines are pure gold in your life.  Like working out 3 times a week or drinking 60 ounces of water a day.  These habits build momentum that over time results in good health.  That is the key word here…momentum.  “Momentum is a leaders best friend. Sometimes it’s the only difference between winning and losing,” John C. Maxwell.

Which brings me to the 5 things you should do every week to grow your business.  Trust me you do these things and they will make a difference in your business.  Some of these are no-brainers.  But, you would be surprised at how many people don’t do them. They say they don’t have time.  They mean to but never get around to it.  If you schedule these into your week and make them a non negotiable than you will see your momentum increase and your business grow.

  1. Meet with your team once a week.  I find Monday mornings the best.  This is where you develop a synergy with your people.  Inform them of everything that is going on.  When your people feel trusted with the good and the bad it makes them feel more invested in the company.  This is a great time to acknowledge individuals successes and also when someone has a challenge everyone can help solve it.
  2. Contact a certain amount of new accounts each week.  Come up with a number that works for you.  It could be 10, 20, 50.  But, you must decide on a number and stick with it.  It could even be the same stores.  But, till you open them or find out there is no way to do business with them keep calling.
  3. When you reach out to new accounts do not just use e-mail.  Reach out with email, phone calls, and mailers.  You can use 2 of each strategy each week.
  4. Call your top accounts each week to discuss how you are performing at their store.  Develop strategies with them to increase sales.  Some examples:  Make sure they have your best sellers, switch out merchandise that is not selling,  maybe offer a trunk show.  This will help you deepen your relationship with your buyers.
  5. Visit at least one store a week.  Preferably an account you either do business with or want to.  Find out how their store conducts business, what can you learn from their sales people and what can they learn from you.  Meeting their customers will give you insight to what products their store may need.  Knowing what sells and what doesn’t sell makes your product better which will grow your fashion business.
Jan 22

Pop Into a Pop-Up Shop

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales

A pop-up shop is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a store that “pops up” for a short period of time before closing down. In this industry, we know how much consumers like limited time offers because it feels rewarding once they get items that can’t be found everywhere. That’s what has made pop-ups so popular. It gives people the chance to have an exclusive shopping experience.

 

A pop-up shop can be a cheap strategy for brands. It’s a great way for a brand to make sales without committing to a long retail space lease that would take more money to start up and continue running.

 

“The trend has become more prevalent in the last year or so,” said Karen Bellantoni, a vice chairwoman of RKF, a retail-focused national brokerage firm.

 

It’s being done by large luxury brands, like Nike and Prada, as well as specialty shops with a specific niche such as Diet Coke or movies about to premiere. Even Ebay and Amazon have dabbled in the concept in order to bring their online services to a solid building for a unique shopping option.

 

Pop-up shops can serve a few purposes. They can help you clear out old or excess merchandise while you gear up for a new line. It’s also a way to test out products and see how it works in the key markets and demographics before putting it out officially.

 

The biggest benefit is exposure. It’s cheap exposure that lets shoppers see your brand, know what you’re about and get excited about your future products.

 

Pop-up shops can, well, pop up anywhere but they thrive best in big cities like New York, Los Angeles and London, where the shopping scene is all about the “next big thing” and hidden treasures.

 

How do you start a pop-up shop, you may ask? It’s not much different than getting a regular storefront, except there’s much more freedom in choice. Some pop-ups take the form of tents in parks, vendor carts and booths, or even a store that is immersive and interactive based off of your brand concepts.

 

And believe it or not, there is so much retail space available for a limited amount of time, even by paying day-to-day.

 

Promotion is key to every brand, but especially with a pop-up store. If you’re only having the store for one month, you need to get the word out that it’s there and it’s not there to stay. Always emphasize the urgency, the exclusiveness and the one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

 

Pop-up shops may have started out as a trend, but they aren’t going anywhere. Gain new customers with a limited time experience, and keep those customers long after your shop closes its doors.

 

Sources:

http://blog.thestorefront.com/what-exactly-is-a-pop-up-shop/

https://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-answers/what-pop-shop/

 

Dec 19

Snap Your Brand Into Success

By Maria Pesin | Digital Marketing , Sales

Who would imagine that a ten second video is all a potential customer needs to decide to shop your business?

 

Snapchat has been one of the top social media platforms used worldwide, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon with over 150 million daily users, according to Business Insider.

 

The basis of Snapchat is simple. You can send a video or picture that can only be viewed for ten seconds or less. Sounds pointless right? Wrong!

 

When you use your Snapchat as an ad, it can work as a sneak peek into your fashion brand. If a person sees a picture for just a few seconds, it can spark their interest enough to look it up and shop your products.

 

It’s the perfect teaser. Just by taking a ten-second video, you can make an announcement with a bit of visual that will excite the viewer and keep them curious, and coming back for more.

 

The power of Snapchat is that it has the ability to give people a quick peek into your business, and what you have planned for the future, without getting bored from lengthy captions for a picture. It combines the to-the-point aspect of Twitter and the visual appeal of Instagram.

 

People can also “snap” a message or photo back to you to show their excitement, increasing the communication and feedback from shoppers.

 

Promoting your Snapchat can be as easy as listing it on your website, adding it to your business cards or contributing to the public fashion stories that can be seen by worldwide users. Stories can be viewed for 24 hours, making it a great way to tease an announcement such as an upcoming line or show.

 

There are so many social media outlets out there, but don’t let them intimidate you. Learn the ins and outs of them and how to use them to your advantage.

Dec 11

Do Companies Really Mean It When They Say They Are Committed to Excellent Service

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales

I really like the success guru Darren Hardy, author of the Compound Effect.  Or at least I did.  I bought a program of his  that I though seemed really good.  I only listened to the first part of 12 and knew it wasn’t for me.  Since he guarantees his products I filled out his contact form asking for my money back. I had to do it twice because I haven’t heard back.  (Still haven’t) Nor is there a telephone number to call, which is a pet peeve of mine.

This is just one story in a list of similar stories where I feel like I am annoying the customer service rep rather then having a service rep who wants to help. The following is a small list of customer service experiences:

  1. Called Sprint 3 different times to fix a billing issue and was put on hold for up to 100 minutes.
  2. My son was hit by a car and it took 3 weeks to get the police to write up the report.
  3. Trying to get my sons car appraised for weeks and was told we’ll call you when we get to it.
  4. Tried to cancel my gym membership at Retro because I had a knee replacement and can’t work out or walk, yet they won’t cancel unless I walk in and cancel (which of course I cannot.)

I did have one really great experience,  I had to order very expensive food for my elderly cat.  Unfortunately my cat died before the food arrived.  When I called the company Chewy to return the food they told me to keep the food and donate it to whoever I wanted. Wow that was impressive.

This has all happened in the last 2 weeks.  What is going on with companies?  Is business so good that companies can so disregard the brand experience that they alienate customers.  I now love Chewy and would recommend them to everyone.  The rest, not!

What is your experience?  I’d like to hear from you.  Do you have good experiences or has the concept of good customer service gone with the dinosaur?

Sep 29

Decrease Automation, Increase Retail Customer Satisfaction

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I keep hearing people in our industry say that retail is on its demise, but that’s because companies don’t know how to do it anymore. It’s time to change up our customer’s experience in our businesses. I think we have the ability to turn it around. We need a retail renaissance.

 

The reason why retail is going downhill is due to the lack of helpful employees and increase of computers. The sales help is either not well trained, or they don’t exist at all. Companies are automating their businesses to the point where it’s impossible to even speak to someone on the phone. Many companies may think that computerizing the retail experience increases efficiency, but more often than not, it decreases a shopper’s excitement and motivation to make purchases. Automating a store can make customers feel like the company isn’t willing to go the extra-mile to make their shopping experience a pleasant or enjoyable one through face-to-face interaction.

 

Shopping is a form of entertainment. We’ve all spent hours shopping on our days off because we find it fun, and even relaxing. Incorporating entertainment into your retail company can keep people engaged, and this is something that can only be done with human interaction. Automating your business lacks the human qualities that we look for in retail help like an upbeat attitude and the ability to give opinions. I went into a clothing store the other day and the manager immediately approached me. We held great conversation and I found myself making multiple purchases before leaving the store. I felt like the staff was knowledgeable and focused on customer satisfaction which made me feel like a valued buyer.

 

It’s time to bring back what made retail so successful: quality customer service. The more you automate retail, the worse off you are. So take away the automated system on your help line and connect your customers to reliable employees

Jul 21

Are you selling enough brick and mortar stores?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I recently read a statistic stated by Manhattan Associates that…
“Online retailers have seen sales decrease by as much as 23 percent in zip codes where physical stores close.”

That is an interesting statistic and surprising to some people I tell it to.  Most fashion industry people see the internet taking business away from brick and mortar.  What they don’t see is that brick and mortar stores support internet business.

This statistic also supports many retailers strategy around “omni-channel” retailing, where merchants seek to provide customers with a seamless experience whether shopping online via desktop or mobile device or at a traditional retail store.

I believe in the advantages of having several business silos because they form a synergy that multiples you sales.  That is why it is advantageous to sell at physical stores as well as on line.  The more exposure you have the more the consumer gets to know you and the more opportunities there are to increase you volume.

What is important to note here is that being in a brick and mortar store also helps build your brand.  I’ve read that it takes 9 points of contact before a customer purchases a product.  The truth is how many points of contact you need depends on many factors.  However there is data that supports the idea that there needs to be several touch points.

The great thing about being in a traditional retailer is that a customer can touch and feel and try on your product before they buy. Many people prefer to shop that way.

It is a smart strategy to be in many brick and mortar stores in order to build your business and get your name out.

With the advent of the internet more and more brands are focusing on website sales, sometimes to the detriment of their volume.  Don’t be short sighted.

 

Jul 17

5 Ways To Increase Your Fashion Business Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Fashion entrepreneurs have one thing in common.  They always seek to grow their businesses.  They see themselves as a major brand and rightfully so.  While they may not necessarily want a billion dollar brand a $20 million brand can make them very happy.  So how do they do that?  Here is what I suggest.

  1. Expand on seasons deliveries – I have worked with brands that do most of their business in one season.  For example a cashmere line that ships 90% of their product in the fall.  I have them add spring fabrications so that they can increase sales by shipping more for spring then ever before.  For brands that do business for fall and spring I have them add additional groups to ship in other months.
  2. Grow your sales team –  Adding additional sales reps, both showroom sales and independent reps can make a significant difference to your volume.
  3. Increase your marketing – Are you doing all you can to get your message out?  Review your social media, email marketing, retargeting efforts, and PR with an eye to expanding on what you are doing.  The idea is to create more buzz in order to drive customers to your site with the goal of internet sales or having them look for a store where they can buy you product.
  4. Broaden your product assortment –  If you make sweaters, perhaps you can add some bottoms to work with them.  I have a tie company as a client and we added pocket squares.  I also have an activewear client and we added sports bras.  There are many natural adjacencies to product lines so just figure out what makes sense for your brand.
  5. Rework best sellers – When I ran Jessica Simpson we had a coat that sold very well at retail.  Our first season we sold 500 units.  We took the body and reworked it by offering different lengths, different sleeves, changed the collar, and offered it in plus sizes.  We must have sold 50,000 units of that coat in all the incarnations and it always sold well at retail.
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.

1 2 3 4