Fashion Buying in the Age of COVID-19
Fashion buying has always been a complex task. But in the age of Covid, getting hold of the right stock has become even trickier for boutique owners. With many supply chains severely interrupted and some businesses on the verge of collapse, fashion indies now have the added worry of whether the right products will reach their stores at the right time – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala.
Some retailers canceled much of what they originally planned to carry at the start of the lockdown, while others are waiting with anticipation to see if their full orders make it to their stores. Much-loved brands could go into administration before the season ends while others might not be able to deliver their full collections.
Some indies are planning to order more products in-season than they would have done pre-pandemic. There are many benefits to buying this way including versatility, guaranteed stock, immediate deliveries, and being able to react to the weather and consumer demand. Short order buying also means paying for stock as you go along, which can help with managing the business’s cash flow.
But it’s not always easy to find suitable brands that offer in-season collections. And with most major trade shows now canceled for the rest of the year and recommendations against non-essential travel, finding new brands and stock to buy in the middle of the season is even more problematic for retailers.
The digitalization of the wholesale model is offering a much-needed alternative for boutique owners and brands. Thanks to a new wave of B2B marketplaces such as TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace it is now possible for buyers to hunt out new products and place orders from the safety of their computer, tablet or smartphone. Many buyers are already used to scouring for new brands online via social media platforms such as Instagram. TradeGala takes it one step further by allowing buyers to browse entire collections and then place orders – all on one convenient site.
TradeGala’s roster of brands is ever-expanding and the marketplace offers a comprehensive line-up to suit myriad tastes and budgets. Standout pieces available to buy via its site include on-trend printed midi and maxi dresses by Zibi London, Liquorish and Hoxton Gal, party dresses, and jewelry from Haus of Deck, and affordable sustainable young fashion designs by Nesavaali. Buyers can choose from casual yet elegant womenswear pieces from Figi and Lenitif, sparkly heels by Glitz Shoes, fashion trainers from JR Artisan Fashion, and intelligent underwear designs by Magic Bodyfashion. There are also beautiful occasionwear pieces such as flowing gowns and bridesmaid dresses from City Goddess and Goddiva.
With a simple order process, retailers can make product selections with just a few clicks. Buyers can refine their search using the site’s in-built filters to find particular colorways, styles, or prices – making it easy to curate unique and harmonious collections from a range of brands. Each product also has its own detailed page with professional photographs and in-depth information, which makes it easy to select the right pieces. And because TradeGala is in operation 24/7, retailers can research and choose products whenever and wherever it suits them.
TradeGala also offers centralized customer service and payment protection so buyers can feel confident when ordering. Many of its sellers offer low minimum order stipulations and sell single garments, so boutiques can make a small trial order to test the brand’s viability with their customer base with very little risk. For brands, TradeGala offers greater visibility and access to new international markets and the latest technologies with minimal commitment. Smaller, independent brands are able to take their first steps into the wholesale market, which may have previously seemed too daunting.
The fashion wholesale world will probably never be fully digitalized given the tactile nature of buying. However, as the country gets to grips with living through a pandemic, TradeGala offers a great way for retailers to access stock safety, conveniently and cost-effectively. This year has been difficult for so many reasons.
Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala