Category Archives for "Sales"

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.

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.

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