When things get tough it’s often hard to remember why you started. When you’re drowning in paperwork, figures and the latest sales initiatives it can be hard to see beyond the next task at hand. Whether you own a fashion retail chain or a small independent boutique, it’s safe to assume that you started out with a desire to share your love of fashion with the world.
Unfortunately, it’s often all too easy for that dream to get lost along the way. This may seem like a minor issue, a simple fact of life when faced with the reality of running a business. But if you’ve lost sight of who you are and why you do what you do, you could actually be damaging your chances of success, particularly during a worldwide crisis where retailers must stand out from the crowd in order to triumph over the competition. Maybe now is the perfect time to go back to basics and remember what makes you unique?
When calculating sales targets and budgeting stock, it’s often difficult to see beyond the line of figures in the cashbook. But if we want to convert sales it’s vital to connect with our customers on an emotional level. Let’s go back to why you started. Perhaps you wanted to curate the perfect selection of stunning occasion wear dresses, to share with your customers the fun of dressing for a big event or a special day. Perhaps you wanted better options when buying clothing for your kids and decided to source childrenswear brands in line with your vision to help make parents’ lives easier and children’s clothes shopping fun. You more than likely imagined yourself as the customer – how you would feel as you browsed the ranges, or what you would think as you entered the door. Things seemed simpler then (then again, didn’t everything?)
But perhaps we need to simplify things once more in order to get to where we want to be. It’s all very well using the latest window dressing or SEO techniques, sending out carefully worded newsletters, and offering sales and coupons. But customers know when they’re being sold to, and more often than not, it’s a major turn-off. How many times have you deleted yet another sales email from your inbox, or avoided a store assistant’s pushy sales techniques? It’s time you put yourself back in the customer’s shoes. Who are they? What do they want? How do they want to be treated? Talk to them if you have the chance and find out what the problem is that only you can solve. They may just remind you why you started out in the first place.
The fashion and trade sector is always changing and every few months retailers update their stock, bringing out the summer dresses or stocking up on jumpers and scarves. The bell-bottoms that were ubiquitous years ago have been relegated to the backs of wardrobes to give way to the skinny or the wide leg. But it’s not just trends that change. Are you the same person that you were when you started your business? Is society in the same place as it was when you started out? Even if you launched your business just a year ago, the answer to these questions is more than likely to be “no”. And as situations change, if we continue to do what we always have done, we’re likely to get left behind. But how does that fit with going back to where you started? If we’re supposed to constantly be changing and adapting, how can we stay true to our original goals? The key, as always, is to strip things back to the essentials.
Let’s go back to the occasion to wear example. If your original vision was to offer stunning party wear but people are no longer buying glitzy dresses perhaps now is the time to consider what led you to your choice in the first place. Was it the glitter and sequins that attracted you? Maybe you could consider introducing a range of casual wear, but with a touch of your signature bling to stay true to your brand and bring a little sparkle to your customers’ everyday lives? If the reason you went into occasion wear was more about dressing your customers for their special events, you may simply need to reassess the mood of the moment – if sustainability and slow fashion are the buzzwords of the day, perhaps you could source more classic designs which will last a lifetime, or consider an offering a hire service to help your customers live more sustainably while still fulfilling their fashion fantasies? Consider what your original vision can offer to your customers today and be ready to step outside of your comfort zone.
Ever had the feeling that you’re stuck in a rut? Haven’t we all. It’s often easier to source your collections from the same brands year after year – you’ve built up a relationship, you know what to expect, it’s quick and easy. But ease can be an enemy of progress and relying on those tried and tested habits can lead you away from what you originally set out to achieve. If you’ve gone back to basics you should already have a good idea of exactly what you want to offer your clients. Whatever it is you decide, one of the major factors is likely to be “something they can’t get anywhere else”. We all want to be original, and when the competition is sky-high we need to be able to set ourselves apart from the crowd. “Building your own special identity is a long-term process, but it’s worth all the effort.” – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala and chief executive of occasionwear brand Goddiva.
If your customers can find the same styles in another perhaps more local store, or they keep seeing those same old favorites in your storefront season after season, they’re likely to look elsewhere. Do what you did when you were just starting out – trust your instinct and branch out with the up-and-coming designers you happened across at the last trade show. Take a risk on a new international brand you discovered recently on your travels. If you want to be faithful to your brand personality you shouldn’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd – it’s the key to success after all.
We know that sourcing brands and purchasing stock can be time-consuming, and can take you away from that all-important time with your customers. This is why we created TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace we do the legwork, sourcing emerging and well-established fashion brands from around the world, with something to cover your every fashion need. New brands are added every week so there’s always something new, something to inspire! Revisit your vision and find the brands to help you achieve it at TradeGala.