Kristel, our Business Development Manager, has many years of experience in the fashion industry, both from the brand and retailer perspective. She brought her extensive knowledge and expertise to FashionTrade.com 8 months ago and since then, has travelled across Europe to connect with brands and have conversations about how FashionTrade.com can help ease some of their current burdens.
I am meeting with brands almost every day. Whatever the country, size or segment, all fashion brands are currently facing similar challenges. My job is to listen to them and figure out together how fashionTrade can help them be more efficient, says Kristel.
What are the most striking pain points that brands discuss with Kristel? What is holding them back in the current market? And how can fashionTrade help them?
Challenge #1. So many customers, so little time
This is the first thing that Kristel hears all the time: brands simply don’t have enough time to properly sell their collections to all their customers. Retailer portfolios are getting bigger while selling times are increasingly shorter – especially with the addition of popular new capsule collections. In such contexts, sales teams are finding it hard to keep up.
When there are simply too many customers to spend quality time with, brands will focus their time and efforts on larger accounts – often to the detriment of smaller ones. This is not only frustrating for sales representatives but also means that the brand is losing out on potential sales, in both the short and long run.
Even if a retailer only accounts for a small part of current sales, a brands’ mentality should still be to provide them with the best assortment and customer service possible. A small account today can be a critical one tomorrow… The same applies to prospects. Many brands don’t have enough time to connect with their newest retailers, which can harm their future development.
In this scenario, fashionTrade gives brands the possibility to easily present and communicate their collections to a wider network of retailers. Our marketplace allows you to:
- Create and update your own digital showroom,
- Update your price list whenever you need to,
- Easily find and connect with new retailers and invite them to use your digital showroom,
- Notify your retailer portfolio about promotions or capsule collections,
- Receive and manage orders online.
FashionTrade is specifically designed for the needs of fashion professionals. It is easy to use – and we are also here to guide you along the way.
Challenge #2 the trade show dilemma
More and more brands are questioning the current state of fashion trade shows. The number of visitors is dropping while costs remain the same. In this context, they struggle to get a sufficient return on investment. Trade shows are also very time-consuming for sales reps. They are great places to connect with customers but don’t allow for the placement of orders in an efficient way.
‘Writing down orders on paper takes time, but is also very inefficient, as sales reps have to re-enter everything again in their system once back at the office’ says Kristel.
Not mentioning the possibility of losing your precious notes or not being able to read them afterwards (trust us, that happens to everyone). And – once the shows are over, sales reps have to follow-up by email or phone to finalise and amend orders. A time that could be better invested if things were done more efficiently during the trade shows.
At fashionTrade, we don’t aim to replace physical trade shows: we just want to make sure you are as efficient as possible when you go there. With fashionTrade, you can:
- Share your collections with your retailers before the trade shows, maximising your face-to-face time with them.
- Allow them to scan the products they want to purchase at your booth: you immediately receive their orders on your account.
- Check your stock levels and your order history.
- Review and amend orders easily on your desktop once you are back at the office.
Challenge #3. Lack of time to invest in digital solutions
Many brands are aware of the opportunities brought by digital. But they are ‘trapped’ in their present methods. There is a fear that if they spend too much time on a new digital tool – like FashionTrade, they might lose current sales.
‘I understand their concern says Kristel, ‘but my objective is to tell them that FashionTrade is very intuitive and simple to use. Any time spent on it now should also be seen as an investment aiming to maximise their future sales’.
At FashionTrade, we thrive to make it easy for all our customers. This is why every brand works closely with one of our Customer Success Managers (Amanda or Maaike), who are there to guid them every step of the way.
Challenge #4. Developing internationally
The aim of every brand is to grow. But going international is always a costly challenge. This is why many brands choose to work with distributors. A distributor typically buys a part of the brand’s stock and is responsible for selling it in designated markets.
This is definitely an interesting option for brands who cannot invest in sales and marketing internationally. The fallback is that it prevents them from developing their own strategy in these markets. Many of them deplore the fact that they lack control once the stock is sold to the distributors.
While fashionTrade doesn’t act as a distributor, it does allow you to reach out to new retailers across Europe easily yourself. Customise your digital showroom according to your strategy and connect with international customers. They will be able to browse, place orders and receive updates about your collections or any promotions. This will definitely help you develop in new markets while giving you the whole control over what you sell where. You can even continue working with your current distributors and test FashionTrade at the same time in a different market.
Challenge #5. Expensive IT solutions
Working with the right tools is key to the success of any company. IT solutions need to be adapted to your needs and make your work as easy as possible – all within your budget.
‘Unfortunately, many brands are being held back by their IT solutions, which damages their efficiency’ says Kristel.
Two things can go wrong: either the solution is not tailored to your needs in the first place or it’s not flexible enough to adapt to your ever-changing business. Too often, brands find themselves stuck in the middle: their current solution slows them down, but changing it would require too much budget and manpower.
At FashionTrade, we are both tech and fashion oriented. What does it mean for you?
- Our platform is specifically built for fashion brands and fashion retailers. We know your needs and we work every day to make you more efficient.
- Our solution is built in the “cloud”. This mysterious cloud simply means that you can access FashionTrade.com anytime from anywhere, providing you have an internet connection. To join our platform, there is no need to ‘buy’ very expensive software or install and/or update anything on your laptop, tablet or phone. Just go online and login, from any device you like! The fact that our platform is built in the cloud also means that it’s highly flexible. We work on improving it every day so it stays relevant for your changing needs. Whenever a new feature or improvement is ready, we push it live without any disruption to your current way of working. No need to update anything on your side, we do all the IT work for you!
Challenge # 6. Inappropriate sales tools
As a brand, you work hard on your collections. You make sure everything looks perfect, even the smallest details. But when you have to share it digitally with customers, you end up copying and pasting images in a bad-looking and very heavy Excel sheet. This is time-consuming and inefficient, both for you and your customers.
‘Many brands wish they had a better tool to present and share their collections’, says Kristel.
This is why we developed our digital showroom solution. Specifically designed for fashion brands and retailers, it will display all your product information (including images) and allows retailers to order the styles, colors and quantities they need with ease. Collections are simple to upload or update: you can use a CSV file or the FashionTrade API.
Challenge # 7. Small manual mistakes = big impact!
‘On a daily basis, I see that a lot of things are done manually, which causes mistakes’, explains Kristel.
Writing down orders manually and then entering them in an online tool is a good example. Unnecessary items are often ordered and produced, leaving brands with extra stock that will never be sold. On the opposite, items that were originally bought by a retailer were never produced nor delivered, which is a missed opportunity for everyone.
Here again, FashionTrade reduces the risk of manual errors. Orders are entered once in our easy-to-use and fashion specific app. They can easily be reviewed, amended and shared with your customers before production starts.
Fashion brands are currently facing a variety of pressure points when it comes to wholesale selling:
- Not enough time to properly sell their collections or invest in new digital solutions,
- Lack of return on investment when visiting trade shows
- Difficulties to reach out to new customers, especially abroad
- Inappropriate and expensive sales and IT tools
- Lack of efficiency and accuracy in daily processes
Big thanks to Kristel for sharing her insights with us. Would you like to know more? Feel free to email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.