This post is by Traceena & Lauren of The Sales Concept
When one thinks about sales and merchandising separately it’s a bit difficult to explain why these two topics combined make the best formula to grow your business. You cannot be great at one without the other.
Even if you have a stellar sales strategy or salesperson/team, if your merchandising is not up to par, then it’s pretty pointless. The same goes for merchandising. Even if you have the best designs and amazing assortment, unless you have a salesperson or team that understands exactly how to sell, your products will never get sold.
Of course there are marketing strategies and tactics, but what most people may not realize is that merchandising is pretty much the backbone to every single business.
Merchandising isn’t just about making things look pretty. It also involves pricing strategies, inventory management, and essentially everything having to do with actually making money. If your pricing structure is off and you’re not making any profit, then something about your merchandising strategy is off.
Just like visual branding is such an important part of growing successful business and attracting a loyal following, you’ve got to create profitable assortments that are not only visually and aesthetically pleasing, but in line with your target market, what customers want, current trends, and that also make money (the most important part!).
Here are a few key tips you can take to grow your business through sales + merchandising strategies.
01. Figure out exactly who you’re trying to target
These days it’s far too vague to say your target customer is a female aged 21-35 who loves fashion. Not only do you need to know her demographics — how much money does she make? where does she live? what does she like to do? where does she shop? which brands does she like? — but you also need to truly understand her buying habits and what is ultimately going to get her to purchase from you.
You need to ask additional questions such as:
- How much is she willing to spend on the product?
- What is important to her when buying it (value, branding, sustainable/eco-friendly, etc.)?
Once you’ve established this, you can start researching where she shops in order to target key stores/accounts you want to reach out to.
When you start out selling wholesale, your first impulse might be to want to sell to everyone, but a better and more strategic way of selling is to look at stores where your exact customer is already shopping.
02. Figure out who your competition is
The best way to do this is to research stores that you would absolutely love to sell in and figure out what brands they are currently selling.
You really need to do some detailed research here to determine: what their average price point is, what types of designs do they sell, what kinds of fabrics are they using, where are their garments made? This will help you identify who your true competition is.
The key here is to be able to differentiate yourself from that brand and be able to convey this to a buyer. The ultimate question is why would a buyer buy from you as opposed to your competition. If you can’t answer that question you need to figure out a way to either niche down further, work on your brand’s message or reevaluate your core audience/customer.
03. Research before selling
Many brands forget that the whole selling process takes time. You can’t expect to walk into a store, meet the buyer and sell them your collection. You might get lucky every now and then, but it usually does not work that way.
Think of the whole sales process sort of like dating. For example, you would never agree to marry someone before dating them, right? When you sell something to a store, you are creating a partnership. The store is taking a risk on you financially, so don’t just go into a store and ask a buyer to buy your collection right off the bat.
The first step is to find out the main buyer’s info — name, email and phone number — and put this all into a spreadsheet. Browse their website or better yet, go into their store and check out adjacent brands and similar price points. Compare your product to see if fits well with the store’s current assortment and aesthetics.
04. Approach the buyer in an organic way
The best way to approach a buyer is to first create a rapport with them. Visit or call the store depending on your proximity, and start off a conversation. It’s great to ask open-ended questions or compliment their store.
When speaking with the buyer, DO NOT sell your collection. This call is to collect information from the buyer to detect if your brand sits well in their stores. Just remember you are having a conversation; let it flow organically instead of thinking what you’ll say next.
Once you’ve made that first connection, send over a short email with a custom line sheet, press, your website, or a helpful tip. But still, do not sell. Two to four days later call the buyer and strike up a light conversation; ask for feedback about the items you sent in the email. If it’s positive, ask for a meeting.
Remember, selling into an account takes time but with persistence and consistency you will open the right account.
These are just a few tips and strategies we’ve used to grow brands into the multi-millions. The key to having a great merchandising and sales strategy is research research research, and also stay consistent and persistent. By following these four tips you are bound to start seeing some traction and better results when it comes to your sales.
The Sales Concept is a fashion consulting agency that helps brands sell their collections at the wholesale level. Traceena & Lauren’s combined 25+ years of fashion industry knowledge helps clients understand what it really takes to grow their sales + profit margins by using a combination of sales & merchandising strategies. Sign up for their free 5-day course “How to Sell Your Fashion Line into Retailers”.