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Sharing is Stylish: The World of Recommerce

Sharing is Stylish: The World of Recommerce

This post was written by guest contributor, Charles-Albert Gorra, founder of Trendly.

Closet1 What if f I told you there is $1,500 hidden somewhere in your apartment, where would you look for that? In a safety box somewhere in your bedroom? Under your mattress? You probably wouldn’t look in your… closet! And that would be a major mistake! We all have disastrous clothing habits. We buy way too many clothes and wear only a fraction of what we own. We get bored easily with items and don’t give them the attention they deserve. What about this Armani jacket that you wore only once? Don’t you think there is a better place for it that in a dusty bag in your cellar?

Hopefully, this waste is shortly coming to an end. The rise of online fashion re-commerce businesses is about to change forever the way we dress. The stars are now aligned for these businesses to shine, supported by favorable tailwinds. The Y-Generation has realized that we don’t need to own everything. Younger crowds are seeing the benefits of spending more efficiently. Inspired by Airbnb, Lyft and others, online fashion re-commerce businesses are emerging to help you monetize your closet and get access to fashion at affordable prices.

Collaborative consumption in the clothing space is on the rise. Two types of business models have emerged. On the one hand, companies like Poshmark and Threadflip have rolled out marketplaces. They connect buyers and sellers and charge a transaction fee. They aim to create an “Ebay for fashion.” By focusing solely on this vertical, these companies can propose a unique experience to their customers and create a community.

Closet3On the other hand, companies like Harvard-born startup Trendly adopt a merchant business model. They acquire items from sellers and resell them online. By paying sellers upfront, they can attract those customers who value time and certainty. It doesn’t get much easier: you put your fashionable items in a prepaid bag and receive cash. Trendly does all the work for you. If you love online fashion, Trendly is organizing a fashion buying contest. You can register by October 17th here.

So whoever you are, and whatever type of fashion you like, there is somewhere an online company that can help you monetize your closet and buy great brands for a fraction of the price. So what are you waiting for?

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Top 5 Innovative Pop-Up Shops

Top 5 Innovative Pop-Up Shops

Looking for ideas for your pop-up venture? Check out these five innovators!

When thinking about your pop-up shop, think about how these brands (and band) translated their image to a space / store while also giving customers and fans something innovative and exciting. Some brands are translating something from the web to a storefront, while others are using a pop-up shop to test out a new line or new experience with customers. A number of the brands below worked with other companies to bring concepts to life, which is also something to keep in mind when creating a pop-up store for your own brand.

1. eBay – eBay Christmas Boutique
eBay opened an innovative pop-up shop by combining the best in technology with live displays. Called the eBay Christmas Boutique, the pop-up shop displayed about 350 items that customers could handle for a limited time in the store. What I like the most is that they used the latest in mobile technology to have customers log into eBay on the spot for their transactions.

2. Kate Spade X eBay – Saturday
After its success with 24-hour store fronts, Kate Spade popped up with a street-side kiosk powered by eBay. Now Kate Spade is partnering up with eBay again to offer its Saturday line through four new pop-ups. By focusing customers’ attention on the hottest items, Kate Spade maximizes its trendy impact with topnotch innovation.

3. Disney X Royal/T (and others): TRON: Legacy Pop-Up Shop
TRON: Legacy dazzled spectators as part of Disney’s movie launch innovation with a retail pop-up selling merchandise dedicated to the TRON high-tech 3D adventure. Shining the spotlight on the one-of-a-kind pieces they put up for sale, the TRON: Legacy pop-up shop brought the movie to life for shoppers.

Nescafe

4. NesCafe – Nescafe Nomadic Cafe Center
NesCafe combined innovative strategies by popping up with free coffee in their micro-bistro, then building on the idea by launching The Nescafe Nomadic Cafe Center. Hosted or popped-up, the Nomadic Cafe Center offers coffee in unlikely venues for busy caffeine-lovers, expanding their reach and building their brand.

5. The Flaming Lips X MySpace
The Flaming Lips brought a whole new pop-up experience to life when they hosted their own concert in their pop-up venue. Continuing in the tradition of the pop-up experience, The Flaming Lips also sold limited edition merchandise and CDs in their pop-up to draw attention to their long-awaited release of their album, Embryonic.

As you can see, you can boost your profits by popping up in unique ways and using the latest in technology to make your pop-up shop worth talking about.



Submitted by Storefront, an online marketplace for artists, designers, and local brands to find retail space.

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Webspace to Retail Space: How Storefront Can Help

Webspace to Retail Space: How Storefront Can Help

As ecommerce continues to evolve, online brands are realizing they need to create physical touch points with consumers in order to stand out. However, organizing a pop-up store or event can be overwhelming. Between all the different spaces within a given city how do you know what is available for when you need it?

This is where Storefront comes in. Storefront is an online marketplace for short-term rentals. Here at OSF, we like to think of the company as the AirBnb of commercial real-estate, perfect for companies looking to host events and set up popup shops.

Founded by Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock, Storefront was born out of the pair’s joint experiences in ecommerce and passion to make communities more vibrant by connecting designers, artists, and brands with underutilized space. As Pollock explains:

There are so many ways to open an online store quickly and easily, but nothing for offline.

Storefront makes finding the perfect short-term retail space quick and easy. It’s as simple as typing in a city and browsing through a well curated collection of spaces such as mall stores, restaurant spaces, lobbies, mobile pop-ups, kiosks, street-level, and shelf space. Listings are extremely detailed and include pictures of the venue with a location map, a list of amenities, and calendar availability with price estimates. In addition, users are also given the exact square footage of spaces, information about nearby attractions, and average foot traffic. When dates are selected and the estimated price is generated, all you have to do is click on the contact owner button to make a booking request. Once this is done you will be taken to a confirmation page to review your request. Within 24-48 hours you will receive a response from the owner if your request has been approved. Easy, quick and hassle-free.

Users interested in renting spaces should be aware that Storefront requires every renter to have general liability insurance. If you do not currently have a GL policy do not fret, shooting a quick email to hi@thestorefront.com will result in the site’s team helping you secure a short-term liability insurance policy. In addition, Storefront provides renters access to multitude of other highly useful resources such as support and education for finding fixture rentals, short-term staff as well as a secure payment platform and promotional access to the company’s growing network of 50,000 pop-up fans and reporters.

If you are a space owner wanting to list your space on Storefront the process is equally as simple. Once an account has been made add the details of your space on the List Your Space page. For owners of multiple spaces, after the first listing is made email hi@thestorefront.com for help uploading the additional spaces’ information. Like AirBnb, Storefront offers free professional photography to help promote your space (currently limited to New York and San Francisco).

Storefront offers a truly a streamlined experience for both renters and owners. With the hassle of space management and scouting taken care of you are now free to go back to concentrating on the hundreds of other tasks vying for your attention.

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Get Winning Sales by Championing Your Products

Get Winning Sales by Championing Your Products

We’ve heard it time and again: “the customer is king.” But thanks to what can euphemistically be called a “sluggish” economy, too many retailers and manufacturers are letting shoppers call all the shots. The result is a pretty uninspiring marketplace with safe products instead of innovation. Rather than newness, we’re getting sameness because everyone’s convinced consumers won’t give fresh ideas a sporting chance.

But as any good coach will tell you, the idea is to play your game—and by doing so, force your opponent play it as well. Obviously buyers and consumers aren’t your opponents—in the best circumstances, you’re all on the same team—but the strategy holds true in wholesale and retail. You should be setting the plays. Now obviously retailers and vendors need to listen to their customers, but you also have to guide them to what’s next. Just like a sports team scores by equipping its best players with aggressive plays, you’ve got to use enticing promotions to boost key looks at retail. These days, customers—both wholesale and retail—are skittish. There needs to be a strategy for getting goods noticed. It’s not enough to simply stock the shelves to see what happens.

Short on time and bombarded by choices, buyers and shoppers don’t always really see and absorb what we’re looking at. We need you to highlight your products’ key characteristics. And, lemmings that we are, we need to know that others think it’s amazing too. You’ve got to bless your selection by giving it the most prominent real estate in your store, dedicating an e-blast to extolling its virtues or touting the press coverage it has garnered. By showcasing your product in this way, you make it covetable and worthy.

Sometimes creating a winner is as simple as committing fully to it by buying deeply into a particular product. For instance, one fall it was impossible to step onto the contemporary floor at Saks and not fall in love with a pair of coated jeans—at least momentarily. The store placed them on every table and every other mannequin. The abundance of this product alone served to make shoppers feel hopelessly dowdy if they were wearing anything else. It shows the power of retail to create demand just by taking an authoritative position. Think back to the days of those ridiculously infectious Gap commercials. Those fresh-faced models dancing to Christmas jingles was the chain’s way of saying “Hey you, you need this scarf!” And in response, we all happily snapped them up.

A great example of how a little creative marketing can create demand is the DKNY Cozy. I had one of these drape-y, shawl-front cardigans about six years ago. I loved it because you could wear it in lots of different ways but I never gave it much thought. Then a few years later, I started noticing DKNY promoting something called the Cozy. Turns out, it was my beloved cardigan. Apparently upon seeing the success and possibilities this item offered, the brand took the ball and ran with it. They gave it a fancy name, created viral videos and trumpeted it on social media. Since then, the Cozy has become a “thing”. There are endless permutations and an equally large number of fans. DKNY made my cardi “happen” with a bit of creativity and showmanship, which boosted the product’s visibility and sales momentum.

Supporting a product in this way gives it the all-important perceived value. And with perceived value, you can transform a good seller into a homerun.

Original image created by Kenny Louie.

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How to Get Your Suppliers to be Transparent

How to Get Your Suppliers to be Transparent

Transparency – knowing exactly where your goods are made and who is making them – is the most important element in a Buyer/Supplier relationship. Yet companies in the supply world do all kinds of things that Buyers don’t know about. Factories subcontract processes like cutting and printing to smaller, cheaper shops, without sharing the savings with you, the Buyer. A Trading Company pretends to be a manufacturing facility (so that you believe you are going direct and getting the best price), when in reality it’s two guys behind a computer screen brokering deals with Suppliers. In the US, imported materials are regularly passed off as ‘Made in the USA’ to unsuspecting Buyers.

While camouflaging certain facts may be a bad industry habit, not all Suppliers who do so have bad intentions. The most likely scenario is that a Supplier believes full-disclosure would make them a less attractive candidate, so they are simply ‘discreet’ about what they share. Still, the burden of establishing transparency in a supply chain falls on the Buyer; it’s up to you to do your homework.

Thankfully, doing your homework is less about spending money or leveraging expertise, and more about taking simple, focused steps towards establishing transparency. Knowing the right questions to ask, using your common sense, and performing an inexpensive factory audit are easy tools anyone can utilize to paint a clear, reliable picture.

Before we discuss tactics however, it’s important to note that situations like the ones mentioned above don’t have to be deal-breakers when looking for a partner. For example, few Suppliers can do everything under one roof, so subcontracting is often a necessity. And while crooked middlemen are certainly no good, working with Trading Companies is an excellent way for a smaller Buyers to establish a relationship with a larger factory. What Buyers should concern themselves with is knowing about it.

Knowledge means that you can make informed choices. If you don’t know about subcontractors, how can you perform social audits or pursue any other kind of due diligence in your supply chain? Similarly, in the case of the US Supplier using imported materials… if you’re unsure of where the components in your product are coming from, how can you properly evaluate what is a fair price? While there isn’t one manufacturing set-up that is best, transparency is necessary in order to produce the best product.

Ask Questions

Knowing which questions to ask is your most powerful tool in establishing transparency. In your communications with Suppliers you should be able to identify the location of your production facility, the origin of all materials, the type of business you are working with (i.e. factory, trading company, wholesaler, etc.) and what they plan to subcontract when making your product. Issuing a Supplier Questionnaire at the beginning of your communications will help filter out problematic companies, however you can use any format. Questionnaires simply help to keep you organized and provide an easy format for Suppliers to send information.

Be careful not to overload people with unnecessary questions, especially if your first language is their second language.  They are busy people just like you, and it takes time to translate and craft answers! You also don’t want to offend potential partners by inferring that they are dishonest. Keep it simple and be polite about your requests, and then dive deeper with further questioning if any answers are not sufficient.

Use Your Common Sense

We all get those feelings about ‘something just not being right’ about someone. If a supply partner seems evasive, or makes you feel uneasy, trust your gut! If they reply with excuses or vague answers rather than directly answering your questions, let it be an alarm bell to proceed cautiously.

Basic common sense can also detect ambiguous situations. Does the person you are speaking with have a company e-mail address and listed phone number? If not, it’s unlikely that they are an employee of a factory. Is a Supplier’s business license out of date? Are you unable to find a website or directory listing for the company name being provided? If something is not right about a Supplier, you may take that as a sign for you to steer clear.

Inexperienced new Buyers will often defer to Suppliers whom they regard as industry ‘authorities.’ This may be true on the technical side of things, but when dealing with the nuts and bolts of your supply chain, the Buyer must retain authority. Be confident in your instincts.

Perform a Factory Audit

Factory Audits are used for a variety of purposes such as ensuring social standards, evaluating production capabilities, or just confirming that a factory does indeed exist. During an audit an Inspection Agency will visit your factory (or potential factory) as well as conduct any supplemental research required, and then present you with a detailed report of their findings.

Performing an audit on a Supplier prior to entering into a relationship with them is strongly advised. Many companies also carry out routine inspections after they get started, allowing them to check on a Supplier’s on-going activities and maintain the integrity of the relationship. Further, you don’t have to be a big Buyer with a big budget to pay for audits; many can be performed for under $300. Consider this a small price to pay when transparency is at stake!

Since dealing with domestic Suppliers in your home country means that you have the ability to visit or research yourself, audits are primarily performed on behalf of foreign buyers. Still, some version of having ‘eyes on the ground’ when working with a Supplier is good practice, even if it is just mean you informally visiting your production location.

 

To learn more about Supplier relationships, check out Liz’s Skillshare class ‘Design, Source, and Manufacture Your Product Idea’ or visit her blog at lizlong.co.

Original image created by the Images of Money flickr photostream.

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3 Most Common Questions About Overseas Suppliers

3 Most Common Questions About Overseas Suppliers

Are you looking for an overseas factory for your product idea, or considering moving your domestic production offshore to save costs, or increase volume? If so, chances are that you’ve had (or will have) one of the following 3 questions about your potential Supplier. While looking for a suitable supply partner can be an overwhelming job, deciding on the right one is a lot easier once you understand how to answer the ‘Big 3.’

1) How do I know if I can trust the Supplier?

This is usually the most common concern, since long distances and cultural barriers make getting a feel for a potential partner more difficult. Questions arise about labor practices, the factory’s expertise, and if the person on the other end of your e-mail message is actually in charge of a manufacturing facility, or a scammer looking to take your money and run.

The best way to calm your fears is to physically visit the Supplier in question, and see what’s going on with your own eyes. This isn’t always practical though if you’re working on a budget, or trying to decide between several possible candidates (visiting all of them would be quite an expense)!

Thankfully, performing a professional factory audit can be done for as little as a few hundred USD with a third party certification agency; a small price to pay for the assurance that you are partnering with a qualified Supplier. Enlisting the help of an agency means an inspector will visit your factory and provide a detailed written report on his or her findings. Check out Asia Quality Focus and Sofeast for more information on the affordable audit services that are available.

2) How do I know if I’m getting a good price?

The answer here is to first do your research. Ask 5 similar Suppliers to price the material, process, or product you are trying to source. Their answers should fall in a bell curve, with one at the high end, one at the low end, and the rest in the middle. Understanding this range will give you an educated means of comparing the prices you have been given.

The second step in gauging price is to understand your Supplier’s quality standards. Quality problems present hidden costs, and a low price can sometimes mean expensive issues down the road. To determine if quality control is being performed in a responsible manner, ask to see the Supplier’s Quality Control Manual for the item you are producing, inquire about whether there is a staff member that directly oversees Quality Assurance activities, and ask if you can see metrics from recent quality tests. Keep in mind that some smaller Suppliers may not have a full-time employee dedicated to QA, or if you are making a completely new product, the facility may not have an existing manual. Still, their answers should shed light on the Supplier’s level of professionalism and attention to detail.

3) How do I know the Supplier won’t steal my idea?

The unfortunate answer is, that you don’t. But first, let’s talk a little bit about how knock-offs typically happen. A factory will produce an authorized run of a product (say you’ve ordered 500 handbags), but instead of making your requested quantity, they will add extra units to the order (so the total run might be 700 pcs), and then slip the extra pieces out the door. Because they have to absorb the cost of the additional materials and production, they are more likely to do this with big, famous brands that they know they can resell without much effort. They don’t want to deal with promoting, advertising, or, hard-selling, so lesser-known, smaller brands are not ideal targets.

Regardless, even if you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to exercise caution. One way to prevent knock-offs is to have an inspector on-site, counting finished product while your goods are in production. This can be achieved by hiring one of the inspection companies noted above, at an average rate of $260 USD per day.

A second, and arguably better way, for those especially concerned about imitations, is to split your supply chain so that no one factory has all the information or materials needed to make your product. For example, Supplier A makes Component 1, Supplier B makes Component 2, and Supplier C receives both components and puts them together to make the finished product. Supplier C doesn’t have the means to make unauthorized goods, because you are shipping them the exact number of components needed for each purchase order.

Did you notice that legal documents haven’t been mentioned yet? It is worthwhile to have trademarks and patents in place, and to have them filed by a lawyer who specializes in IP protection in the country you plan to work in. In this way you can press charges if someone illegally imitates you. But don’t you think that the big, famous brands who get knocked-off have rock-solid legal protection in place? Of course they do. The reality of today’s manufacturing landscape is that creatively trouble-shooting your supply chain may prove to be more effective at protecting your ideas than traditional tactics.

Sourcing overseas may never be a simple process, but having the answers to these simple questions will certainly help you navigate foreign waters!

 

To learn more about the search for the perfect Supplier, check out Liz’s Online Skillshare Class on April 15th: ‘Design, Source, and Manufacture Your Product Idea.’

Original image created by Steve Gibson.

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Why Staying Local is Important (and Better!)

Why Staying Local is Important (and Better!)

As delivery dates, Coterie and Fashion Week insanity begins to take over the fashion world, one thing always starts coming up: the shipments are late.

More often than not, that panicked statement comes to us from a designer that has chosen to produce outside of New York (or whichever city they are based out of). Many of them are producing in Asia or South America and are facing a time difference, a possible language barrier and/or the insurmountable issue of never meeting the factory face-to-face. For the ones based in New York on the other hand, they could walk into the factory and bug them until things got back on schedule.

The fact is, producing locally– whether it’s New York, LA, Chicago– is increasingly important in the world of emerging fashion. At Vicaire NY, we take local production into account when we are reviewing emerging designers to be carried on our site. It shows us three major things:

  1. there is higher quality control by the designer
  2. the designer is bringing business back to the US
  3. the designer was business savvy.

Let’s break those things down:

High Quality Control
This is one of the most critical aspects of breaking into the fashion market. If your production run is not perfect, you risk alienating not just buyers but customers as well. One of our designers was loved for making fantastic cigarette pants. The fit was impeccable, the finishing was beautiful – and they were manufactured in a Brooklyn factory. Then, one season, they decided to produce off-shore in Asia. Not only was the production late by a month, the fit of the pant changed drastically. There was no way for them to do quality control because the factory never sent a sample of the production, despite constantly asking for it. Many other buyers cancelled their orders – but we carried the pants, until one of our customers returned them saying “These are weirdly sewn.”

We pulled the pants off the site.

The fact is, as an emerging designer you have very limited times to make an impression. So make it right.

Bringing Business to the US
This may seem lofty to others but it is imperative for emerging designers to bring production business back to the US. Local factories are the ones with low or no minimums per style and without them, many designers would not be able to do a round of production at all. From a consumer perspective it also gives a story to your garment; it’s no longer just a shirt, it’s a movement.

Being Business-Savvy
From a business perspective, when we see that a designer chose to produce locally, a light bulb goes off in my head that says, “They thought this through.” Overseas factories have: (1) higher minimums, (2) tariffs when shipping; and (3) high shipping costs. When doing production overseas, emerging designers often are not able to anticipate the costs that will come up from these additional variables. They can drive up the cost of each garment drastically, making the decision a bad one in the end. The higher minimums also mean that there will be excess inventory (unless of course you have a high number of orders already) – and excess inventory often ends up on the likes of flash-sale sites. It is more prudent to do a smaller production run in the US, especially if you do not have a high quantity of orders, and get your name out in the fashion market slowly but surely. It will pay off much more in the end.

 

In the end, getting your designs to the right customer is the most important thing. And the right customer wants the best quality product, with a good story behind it, and a high design aesthetic. That’s what fashion should be about.

Header image from SpreadShirt.

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The Disciplined Road (or Runway) to Success

The Disciplined Road (or Runway) to Success

It’s time to start fresh again. Hopefully, you have fully regrouped from the holiday selling season, found days of rest and are ready to tackle re-order shipments for spring deliveries.

If you are a small business, such as a design team of just 1-6 total employees, taking the time to assess may still feel overwhelming when juggling this alongside racing against the clock to be ready for 2013. You may still be walking the fine line of where to allocate monetary and time resources for the year ahead. It’s the easiest cycle to start the engines again, gearing full throttle to be everywhere and saying yes to as much as possible, but maybe it’s time to adjust that approach.

Step One: Looking Back
What were your goals for 2012?  Were your goals for the year sales oriented? Were they customer traction oriented? Or were they traffic oriented? And most of all, how did your business perform verse your benchmarks?

Note, the above truly has to be a discipline approach and you must prepare yourself to accept the good, the bad and the ugly. And luckily, when you are small, learning is your biggest asset and you are still nimble enough to adjust rapidly and efficiently. Map out your study- month over month. Does your business have cyclicality? Did selling in certain venues extremely outperform others? Did you learn more about your key customers? What two or three things happened during the year that really turned you on? Have you built the right team that is going to support you so you can shine as the creative mind of your vision?

Step Two: Connect & Analyze the Dots
What do these answers mean for 2013?

Ideally this assessment happens in 2012, but as a small business in early years we are usually working long days against the clock and playing catch up on a daily basis. In order to best tackle step two, you must start approaching step one with the mindset “I will not fulfill my days with busy work, but rather position myself to be a strategic executor with the right team.” Feeling busy can feel like success until you number crunch at the end of the year, so let the data analysis speak to you.

Step Three: Make Your Mark
The essentials to getting to the next level in 2013.

Regardless of what you learned, the key elements will hold true: working hard means working smart. Don’t try to produce everything, but rather make a solid mark with styles that sell the strongest and create a sophomore run with new colors updates, new straps, a new twist on what’s working and if it makes sense drizzle in one or two new experiments. Target venues where your customer shops, online and offline. Invest time in press that influences your customer, being everywhere is just superficial buzz that will leave you frustrated.

 

As curators and merchandisers at LionesqueStyle.com, we consistently find that brands that outperform on our platform are those with niche focus and disciplined business practices. They hone in on something unique and specialize in one or two key areas. They create an understanding for their brand, they work on scaling with price points that work within their market and for their customer, they have a handle on their production schedules and they can deliver to retailers and customers promptly.

In 2012, we were especially proud of the success of our designers like Heather Belle, featured in InStyle Magazine, and GIR Spatulas, that was featured on the Today Show. Now we are looking for more aspiring talent to join our coveted marketplace. If you feel that you are a brand we need to know, please do let us know! We are hosting a 2 day open call for emerging brands at the Lion’esque Style Experience Store.  You can see more details on our criteria here.

We look forward to hearing from you! Helping you grown and connecting you to our community turns us on.

Original header image created by Marn Albano.

Posted in: Retail Education, Vision & Opinion

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5 Ways to Boost Sales on Your Website

5 Ways to Boost Sales on Your Website

My website has traffic, but why isn’t anyone buying anything? Do you find yourself saying this to yourself over and over? I have learned that there are some common mistakes emerging designers make when building a website that may cause them to lose sales without even realizing it. That’s the last thing you want to happen with the holidays right around the corner!

Here are five important tips that you’ll want to implement on your e-commerce site just in time for the holiday rush!

1. Product Descriptions
Product descriptions on a website replace those of a sales associate in a department store or boutique. Did you know one of the main reasons visitors exit a fashion website is due to lack of sizing information? Make sure you list sizing, materials or fabrication, country of origin for starters. That way your customers won’t leave your site asking those questions. Remember you want to put their mind at ease so they don’t have to go to the store to try it on!

2. Offer free shipping to your customers.

If you afford to do so, here are some creative ways you can offer free shipping:

  • Free shipping — to members only. If you have a membership based website or exclusive members this may work for you. Think Amazon Prime. You pay an annual fee to join the ‘club,’ and then your shipping is free.
  • Free shipping with a minimum order size. This one has been making customers buy one more item than they really need but it works!
  • Free site-to-store shipping. This offer one is gaining momentum especially with big chain retailers that have many locations. If you own a boutique this could be an important edge over your local competition!
  • Free return shipping. Nearly everyone does this in apparel. Otherwise, there’s basically no other way to get you to buy the stuff via catalog or online.
  • Flat-rate shipping. OK yes, it’s not completely free, but it sometimes represents a substantial discount over what consumers might have paid for shipping otherwise. So part of the shipping cost is free, and the cost is contained at one low rate can prevent unhappy customers that were shocked over their shipping charges.

3. Who doesn’t like a freebie?
Adding value to a purchase is a great way to have customers return back to your website and also tell others what gift they got for free– it will go a long way.

4. Stock Availability
It is important that the availability of an item be communicated to the customer early in the purchasing process. If the product is out of stock, let the customers know when it is going to be available. Maybe recommend some similar products that they would be interested in if they don’t want to wait.

5. Offer a Contest or Event
A website contest can be an incredible marketing success if you take the time to figure out your goals, develop an easy contest so that both parties benefit, control the cost of your prizes and promote the contest for maximum exposure.

Here’s to a successful holiday season! Happy Selling!

Original image created by marioanima.

Speaking of contests and events, check out Alexandra Genco’s post: How to Win When Running a Sweepstakes!

 

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3 Tips to Maximize Holiday Online Sales

3 Tips to Maximize Holiday Online Sales

Traditional storefronts have a lot to do to prep for the holidays – and we aren’t even talking about inventory planning. Between decorating, hiring seasonal staff, working extra hours and participating in local, community events, their to-do-lists are very long. It (almost) makes exclusive online retailers look like they have it easy. But as any retailer knows, this isn’t the case.

Whether you have a brick and mortar store and also sell online or only have an online presence, be sure to maximize your efforts this holiday season to gain stronger online sales.

1. Provide easy, quick navigation for your users. Create holiday themed navigation areas that highlight your best selling items and seasonal items. Make sure shopping on your website can be done with ease, and help customers navigate easily with a well planned layout of your site. Highlight buttons or banners are a great way to push certain products, announce specials, share shipping rates and more.

2. Incorporate a countdown clock that reminds customers of how many days there are to shop. This doesn’t necessarily mean how many days there are to Christmas or any other holiday, but rather how many days are left for them to buy something AND factor in shipping time. Be sure to identify this clearly during your checkout process, as well,  to avoid any purchases not being delivered in time for a holiday.

3. Know your target search words & metrics. Review analytics from your own site from past holiday seasons, as well as narrow in on popular search terms used in your retail category online. Reflect on trends on your specific retail sector, as well, and be sure to reference these terms, also.

Finally, consider offering some holiday perks, such as free shipping. According to Monetate.com, 55% of online shoppers expect FREE shipping. Considering this is one of every two customers, this is something to consider. If you factor in a deal to get free shipping, such as spend $25 and get free shipping, then this may not be as difficult to incorporate into your holiday plans. Ultimately, do what is best and makes the most sense for your business… But be realistic enough to know you have to compete with the other retailers. The best question to ask yourself, though, is what are your online goals this holiday season? This will help shape your decisions in making your online experience stronger – or simply not as competitive – in the weeks ahead.

 

Original image created by FutUndBeidl.

Batten down the hatches! The holiday rush is coming! Read Elizabeth Canon’s post “Preparing Your Website for Holiday Rush” to learn how to do just that.

Posted in: Retail Education

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