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Fashion Buying in the Age of COVID-19

fashion

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.

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Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala

holiday season

How to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season During COVID-19

We’re already getting super hyped for the holiday season. From delicate snowfalls to generous gift-giving to spending time with family and loved ones, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

But if you work in retail, the holiday season can mean something VERY different. Many boutique owners find themselves busier than ever during the holidays. Most years, the holiday season means long lines at malls, loads of crowds, and tons of in-person sales. But this year’s going to be totally different.

Online stores have steadily grown in popularity over the years – but COVID-19 made the shift to e-commerce accelerate at its fastest ever rate. This holiday season will be totally dominated & led by e-commerce stores. Many believe the 2020 holiday season will be the single biggest e-commerce event in HISTORY.

If you own an online boutique, that’s great news for you! It means you’ll have the chance to capture all kinds of new and existing customers looking to buy gifts for their loved ones (and take advantage of the great deals for themselves, too). But it also means you’ve got to brace yourself. Things are about to get WAY busier.

Whether you’ve already made it through many a holiday season as a boutique owner before or this will be your first one, read on to learn how to prepare your online store for the holiday season during COVID-19.

Make it easy for your customers to buy online

Make sure you’re totally prepared to accept online orders – and that your website makes the online buying experience as soon as possible. Go through your online store as though you were a customer and make sure the entire buying process is crystal clear. Take a moment to work out any kinks you find so you can provide a seamless buyer journey. If this is your first time selling online, make sure payment solutions are totally ready by running a few test purchases.

Once you’ve done that, update your website for the holiday season. Update your inventory so in-stock items are clearly marked. Promote seasonal offers and holiday deals throughout your website. Clearly display your boutique’s shipping and return policies, especially if you’ve modified them for the holidays. The easier it is for your customers to make a purchase (and take advantage of awesome holiday deals), the more likely they’ll be to do so!

Plan & stock your inventory in advance

And by “in advance,” we mean ASAP! It’s always a good idea to start stocking up on holiday inventory early, but this year it’s more important than ever. Many shipments have been delayed due to the pandemic, so the sooner you can order your inventory, the better.

Make sure you choose to work with a reliable supplier. While the increase in high demand affects retailers like you, it also affects manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers in a big way. Order early and choose a supplier with great customer service. Supplied is a great option for online boutique owners looking for a wide variety of wholesale boutique items, flexible payment terms, and free shipping (yes, even during the holidays!)

Schedule out promotions

Many customers pretty much expect great holiday promotions from the brands and boutiques they love. Start planning out what sorts of promotions you’ll run and when you’ll run them. Stagger promos and marketing efforts carefully so you have a flow of ongoing sales instead of a few huge peaks. It’ll make it easier for you to fulfill orders and provide great service.

With COVID-19, it’ll be difficult to predict exactly how long shipping times will take. To make it easier for you to ship items out well in time for the holidays, incentivize early buying with sales. Experts predict that Amazon’s October Prime Week will cause many buyers to purchase holiday gifts earlier than ever before. Consider offering a sale during it in an effort to pick up some of that traffic.

You’ll also want to make sure you take advantage of Black Friday. Many of the largest retailers have already announced that their stores will be closed for Thanksgiving weekend, meaning there will be far fewer in-person Black Friday doorbuster deals. Try and capture some of that excitement online by offering a great deal for Thanksgiving weekend.
Expect delays

During the 2020 holiday season, getting packages to arrive on your customers’ doorsteps on time will be tricky. Encourage people to buy early. Be transparent about shipping delays you’re aware of and do your best to manage your customers’ expectations. As tempting as it may be, don’t promise a delivery date you can’t guarantee.

Once the guaranteed holiday shipping deadline passes, offer virtual gift cards that can be instantly delivered and used towards any item in your shop. This provides a way for last-minute shoppers to still support your shop.

Prepare for fulfillment & delivery

A lot of online boutique owners are out there running a one-woman show – but during the holiday season, you might want some help. If you usually do shipping and fulfillment operations all by yourself, consider enlisting a friend or an employee to help with the busy season.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location or a lot of local customers, offer in-person pickup to allow customers to save on shipping costs – and to allow you to package and mail fewer orders!

To sum up – to prepare your online store for the holiday season during COVID-19, you’d best get started now. Start ordering wholesale boutique items now so you have plenty of time to prepare for any delays, update your inventory, schedule out promotions, and allow your customers to order their gifts as early as possible.

Supplied members enjoy up to 75% off of wholesale prices on over 100,000 wholesale boutique items. And with free shipping, flexible payment terms, and no minimum orders, it’s perfect for stocking up quickly in preparation for the holiday season. Become a member (it’s free!) and place your first order today.

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Joseph Heller is a small business expert and CEO of SuppliedShop.com. Supplied makes it easier for small boutique owners around the world to access high-quality, affordable wholesale boutique items, whether to stock their physical store or IG shop.

short order

TK Maxx – The Poster Child for Short Order Purchasing?

In the midst of the global pandemic, with a second wave threatening and further lockdowns looking ever more likely, retail experts have been championing the importance of e-commerce in order for businesses to survive the crisis – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala and owner of online fashion retailer – Goddiva.

Surely these extreme safety measures must have taken a toll on the company’s fortunes? Unsurprisingly, the company made a loss in the first quarter of the year with sales falling by 31%, but while other retail chains are studying administration procedures, TK Maxx has risen to become the UK’s sixth-largest retailer, taking over from the giant that is Arcadia Group’s Topshop. Company directors are reportedly looking forward to the second half of the year with confidence and are even looking to expand their high street presence with more store openings in the near future. So how did this discount chain store buck industry trends and come out of the crisis stronger than before?

The secret to its success, it seems, is in the company’s agile buying approach. Unlike other major retailers which purchase their stock months in advance, TK Maxx follows the short order purchase model, buying “little and often” according to current industry trends.

So while other major retailers were stuck with warehouse loads of bikinis and holiday fashion which was no longer of interest to a consumer base whose Summer holidays had been canceled, TK Maxx was able to reduce its purchasing during the enforced closure of high street stores and quickly react to customer needs, concentrating on more popular product ranges such as homeware and childrenswear upon reopening. Every item purchased goes directly to the shop floor, so there’s no guesswork or forecasting required – the purchasing team can react directly to immediate sales and plan the next investment accordingly. As other stores are looking for ways to offload unwanted stock, TK Maxx is now in the enviable position to be able to snap up deals from retailers around the world and pass these reductions onto their customer base which, in the current climate, is looking for bargains more than ever.

The Coronavirus crisis has clearly shaken up the fashion and retail industries. Major fashion houses are looking to move to more “seasonless” designs, and away from the relentless five-season a year fashion calendar which until now has been at the heart of traditional sourcing methods. The bi-annual fashion weeks predicting trends months in advance, the never-ending trade show seasons around the world, the forward ordering of stock based on what the industry assures us will be popular – these methods are no longer relevant, or even possible in some cases. TK Maxx’s short order purchasing model has allowed it to continue to grow even in these unprecedented times, and the benefits of this agile technique are clear as we move forward into an uncertain future.

Fortunately, it’s not only industry giants that can take advantage of this innovation – with wholesale fashion marketplaces like TradeGala, retailers of all sizes can purchase short order fashion from international brands in just a few clicks. From purchase to store within less than a week in most cases, independent retailers can adapt to their customers’ needs and update their stock without the financial risk. With the best fashion, shoes, and accessories brands from around the world, TradeGala offers buyers womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear at the touch of a button. Make short order purchasing the reason for your retail business success – register for a buyer account today at TradeGala.

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Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala and owner of online fashion retailer – Goddiva.

retailers

Lessons from Retailers that are Thriving Despite the Pandemic

While many retailers are struggling, there are those that are thriving during the biggest period of change in most of our lifetimes. Apple’s Steve Jobs said that “innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity and not as a threat”, so what lessons can we learn from retailers that are innovating and thriving?

1. Digital

As brick and mortar retailing ground to a halt for many, digital became a lifeline. It’s a good start to have a transactional shopping website but it’s not enough to thrive in most markets. You need to provide a smooth digital customer experience – the site must be simple to use, easy to pay, and provide relevant order progress updates. It needs to go further and bring your brand experience to life so customers can see the same values and priorities are at play in both your physical and digital worlds. Then, layer on an integrated social media approach to bind everything together and keep a close connection with your customers that drives sales. All aspects have to be integrated and telling the same story, so separate teams working in silos can’t deliver the business punch that a well-rounded experience and communication plan provides.

Strong brands with a clear proposition are showing us how to do it, for example, sports retailers including Nike, Adidas, and Foot Locker. With engaging website content that goes beyond the products, stores where there is always something new to see, and integrated social media messaging, they are a great model for any business to learn from.

Amazon has extended its lead in retail during the pandemic by being exactly what customers needed when going to the mall was not an option. Amazon is easy to use, offers a wide product range, and gets your purchases to you quickly. With Prime, they go beyond simple retail models and create multiple connection points with customers’ lives. There’s probably only room for one Amazon in the market, yet you can take the lessons from their success and translate them for your own brand. How do you build a tribe of loyalists? How can the customer journey and delivery be made simple and on-brand?

2. What’s your story?

Having a clear proposition and strong customer offer has never mattered more. Clarity on what you stand for makes it easier to have a consistent story across all your customer touchpoints. And don’t forget that it’s always been important to offer customers the right products and services to drive sales. The enduring demand for Apple’s must-have products made their stores a retail destination, with queues outside the door as soon as they were able to open. Are your products compelling enough for customers to make a journey to shop for them?

3. Meet customers where they want to be

In the UK, successful brick and mortar retailers enduring falling footfall have partnered with third party food distributors, like Uber Eats and Deliveroo, to give them a new and easy route to customers. In the US, Target-owned Shipt gives members same-day delivery from a range of local retailers via their app. For the retailers, it’s a clever approach that gives them a new fulfillment route with almost zero effort to set up.

Disney has been innovative in how they reach customers. The timely launch of their Disney+ streaming service has given them a new route for film releases like Mulan, as well as a captive audience of people based at home looking for new content. In early August Disney CEO Bob Chapek reported that Disney+ had over 60.5 million global subscribers; an impressive number given that they launched less than 12 months ago. You don’t have to go as big as Disney, however. My local bakery set up online ordering within a week and started a fresh-baked bread home delivery service with a trailer attached to a bike. They used social media to encourage regular customers to support them by ordering online and provided easy links to start ordering.

What innovative route to customers could be right for your customers and brand?

4. Keep trading

One of the biggest lessons comes from retailers who were able to keep trading because their food offer meant they were able to sell the rest of their ranges too, for example, Target in the US and B&M in the UK. Being labeled an “essential retailer” in the UK meant keeping your stores open and brick and mortar sales coming in. These stores saw an online surge and kept some physical sales too, meaning they had a stronger sales base to help them weather the storm. If the government orders you to close, you have little choice yet if you can find ways to keep trading and stay part of your customers’ lives it is much easier to bounce back. If you shut up shop for even a short while you can quickly lose relevance for your customers, a hard lesson many apparel retailers are struggling with now.

5. Review your efficiency

Retailers who have thrived have been flexible and responsive to change. As the routines of daily life have been turned upside down, new customer shopping patterns have made previous ways of working and colleague rotas outdated. You need to review your operation and make it efficient for the new realities of trading. The best operators use workload models and workforce management systems to calculate the resources they need now and alter shift plans to fit the changed demand. Don’t stick with the way you used to do things, or you’ll spend too much salary budget when it’s quiet and not have enough colleagues available in the busier spells. If you haven’t got a workload model that calculates the hours you need, get one as soon as you can as it will help manage your all-important cash flow. If you wait until things get back to “normal” to put robust workload planning in place, you could be waiting a long time and mismanage your salary investment in the meantime.

In a world of constant change, thriving retailers make constant readjustments and it does feel uncomfortable. The fittest thrive, so make sure your operational core is working well and flexible enough to cope with the demands that variable business levels will throw at it.

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Article by Simon Hedaux, founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity, a world-leading productivity partner that helps businesses to drive efficiency, boost productivity, and optimize budgets. For more information see https://rethinkproductivity.co.uk/

logistics

Technological Advancement in the Logistics Industry

In the last ten years, the rise of over 3.5 billion registered users participating in global e-commerce has occurred. The ease and openness of the e-commerce industry allow individuals and businesses to participate in domestic and international e-commerce trade platform, giving each country the opportunity to scale up its workforce and revenue collection. With the help of technological advances, products are now being introduced by the Internet through social media, live streaming, and many more avenues, rather than the traditional sales marketing and advertising methods. The growth of e-commerce has also affected the logistics infrastructure requirements and needs.

Logistics company owners are left with a variety of problems due to the ever-changing e-commerce world, including proper storage, competitive pricing, quick delivery, and fluctuating quantities and unpredictable changes. Though most are eager to find a solution, many have yet to realize that the solution requires full technology integration. Consistent system maintenance and development, integrating sales, operations, administration, and financial functions, connecting and configuring a variety of endpoints, protection from cyber-attacks, and many other functions are essential to creating a cost-effective and productive company during the internet era. With a complexity of technology system operations, it is best for companies to partner with a trusted technology company in developing a logistics platform that will deliver multiple benefits and develop long-term commercial ties.

The availability of a technology platform that works without geographical boundaries will have a huge impact on e-commerce and logistics users because they will be able to collaborate and cooperate with each other under one platform on every computer and smartphone device. Each user in real-time is able to list detailed logistics requirements and services to include pricing schemes, transportation schedules, warehouse spaces, detailed information operations, and others. Additionally, a working relationship with only particular companies and owning branch offices, warehouses, and vehicles in other countries should be transitioned into more transparent cooperation with local companies. Being able to share resources with trusted local companies will give advantages in speeding up operation processes and minimize cost while reducing investment risks.

Internet commerce trade will reach global sales of 17.5 percent in 2021 with a compound annual rate of 15 percent. As a result, many countries have introduced new regulations for e-commerce items that have created confusion and problems for many companies. These e-commerce regulations are overlapping with non-e-commerce items, resulting in a delay in clearance. In addition, when the pandemic lockdown period is lifted, we will see an increase of international and regional trades with the rise of conflict as a result of slow information distribution, causing delays and missed delivery dates.

We are at a point that it is almost impossible for companies to function properly without technological help in recalling HS code numbers, custom tax code, restriction and document requirements, operation notification and monitoring, and many others. With the availability of a real-time crowd sharing platform that is accessible for users, business and logistics transactions are a click away to finalize. Companies should prepare to meet unprecedented regional and international unexpected trades challenge in the internet era, nothing has ever flourished entirely alone: the logistics industry needs an advanced technological integration platform to flourish in the e-commerce era.

 

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Eddy Syaifulah is the head of Mahyu LLC.

retail

Facing The Challenge of COVID-19 in Retail Sector

TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace was originally created as a digital platform to smoothly connect new and established fashion brands with buyers from all over the world. As a business owner, you try to prepare for every eventuality, but I don’t think anyone could have seen the current crisis coming or the scale with which it would affect businesses globally. We had to move quickly to adapt to the situation, reassessing our processes, slowing things down and working closely with our suppliers and providers to make sure that no-one was left behind.

The community spirit within the industry has surprised me more than anything, as companies have really pulled together to overcome the difficulties we all face. Sales across the whole retail sector have obviously been affected, but traffic has been improving since June and we’re looking to the future with a positive outlook as we work together to succeed.

It is vital for businesses to keep implementing new ideas in “turbulent times” by planning for the future and building a strong foundation. The fashion industry, in particular, has changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s clear the fashion industry has changed completely, as has customer behavior, and we need to make sure we fully understand our customers’ changing priorities in order to give them what they want, how they want it. We’re listening closely to our audience to make sure we stay relevant and in tune with their needs, and we’re investing both time and resources into the latest technologies to improve our customer journey at every step of the way.

In these unprecedented times, entire sectors have fallen prey to the complexity left behind in the pandemic’s wake. Many retail companies have seized the opportunity to reinvent themselves in the digital space, harnessing the importance of free-flowing business as the world evolves to a new way of virtual living. TradeGala has smoothly adapted to the new normal, reassessing continuity plans and addressing valid concerns from partnering entrepreneurs and customers alike. In response to the shock to supply and logistics chains and the fall in customer demand, both Goddiva (our women’s occasionwear fashion brand) and TradeGala have implemented critical changes in strategy to ensure safety from disruption and inclusivity for all the business partners and entrepreneurs using our platforms.

As demand drops, the marketplace community must focus on back-to-basic points; optimizing choice, re-assessment of prices, and managing short term costs, while finding new, innovative, and inclusive methods to provide customers with an unwavering reason to keep shopping.

We know that after the COVID-19 pandemic, start-ups will need the support and experience of mentors and industry experts more than ever. Part of the TradeGala vision has always been to help young and emerging entrepreneurs make their mark in the fashion industry. This strategy will not change at all and the COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened our corporate vision to work even closer with industry entrepreneurs. We must understand that the post-pandemic retail world will be very different; it’s all about taking it with a grain of salt.

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Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala

fashion

COVID-19: The Fashion Store That Stands Out of the Crowd

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.

retail

E-Commerce’s Newfound Role in Stabilizing and Expanding the U.S. Retail Sector

Kenny Tsang, Managing Director of PingPong Payments, comments on the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector, and how global online marketplaces are providing a lifeline to businesses with thousands of new sellers.

In recent months, online marketplaces have taken a huge step forward to become the primary option for consumers with the pandemic forcing traditional retailers to digitally adapt to consumers. As these lockdown restrictions begin to ease, many businesses and retailers are increasingly finding value in utilizing digital marketplaces to support further disruption.

Worryingly, the existing retail space still lost a shocking 1.3 million jobs from February to June with data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in August[1] showing little signs of recovery for the retail industry. With retail being the primary outlet of the U.S. economy supporting one in four U.S. jobs [2] businesses utilizing the e-commerce sphere are experiencing significant growth by recording an 18 percent increase in online sales[3] this year.

Retail businesses that have been sustainable during the economic slowdown over the last few months are showing increased utilization of online marketplaces as alternatives to traditional retail services. Many who have explored, or been forced to adapt to digital avenues, are seeing the potential for temporary digital measures to become permanent as the U.S. continues to demonstrate a seismic shift in shopping habits. Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Rakuten are leading the way, with Amazon more than doubling its valuation so far in 2020 – gaining a staggering $570 billion in market capitalization. eBay has just reported a record eight million new active shoppers, resulting in year on year revenue shooting up 18 percent.

While these numbers may be considered unsustainable in the long term, the 565,000 new merchant signups Amazon has already reached this year suggests the significant growth of online marketplaces will continue to exceed expectations. Many forecasters are estimating the business growth of e-commerce will to continue to reach unprecedented levels in the U.S. – with 1.1 million new sellers expected to join Amazon by the end of 2020.

Accessibility has long been a question for merchants hesitant to embrace the digital market and step out of their comfort zones into new mediums. Online marketplaces that are experiencing the most growth such as Amazon and eBay are increasingly finding ways to engage buyers and sellers to leap into the digital sphere. Thousands of sellers are experiencing natural growth, and the demand for consumer confidence while shopping on digital platforms has never been higher. E-commerce platforms cannot emulate the shop floor, however, we are seeing community-based marketplaces driving international consumer merchants to offer a quality service that delivers high customer satisfaction on primarily review-based models.

Sellers should capitalize on the opportunity to adapt and strategize against the current situation while focusing on understanding how their customer buying patterns were changing, to adjust quickly to demand, PingPong Payments identified the most popular selling categories in the e-commerce space during the pandemic to be groceries, toys and games, educational material and home and garden, while swimwear, travel-related products and consumer electronics such as cameras were no longer in demand.

With more consumer-centric additions, comes more growth, and the need for personnel to respond to the demand has heightened. For many e-commerce sellers, this is unprecedented ground, and it highlights the need for e-commerce sellers to have the right systems in place to facilitate these changes. Traditionally, a bulk of merchants’ operating internationally would spend their time minimalizing cross-border payments in unknown markets that would often lead to unforeseen expenses, long shipping times, and unreliable products. E-commerce sellers partnering with the right cross-border payment companies that specialize in convenient, quick money transfers can take this hassle away while lowering costs with these systems in place.

As consumers return to retail spaces – sellers should continue to utilize the flexibility that e-marketplaces have provided for businesses over the last few months with organic innovation increasing through competition for buy share. From the supply chain to customer-centric models – digital marketplaces are providing a platform to rival in-person sales with a significant expansion focused on retaining customers.

Admittedly, there will be consumers who continue to use traditional methods of shopping, and that will remain an open market for retailers as lockdown restrictions ease. Merchants with better familiarisation of the e-commerce industry should be able to continue to put the right systems and partners in place to maintain a continuous flow of sales worldwide. With added expansion in the industry, economic recovery in the U.S. can help propel pre-existing successful retail foundations into the future.

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[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[2] https://nrf.com/retails-impact

[3] https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-ecommerce-will-rise-18-2020-amid-pandemic

business

How To Grow Your Business After COVID-19

COVID-19 has upset economic forecasts and forced many companies worldwide to rethink their business strategy plan for the future. Finding success during this unprecedented time has been a painful process for many companies. Although the pandemic has brought new hurdles to businesses across the globe, it has also created loads of opportunities for retailers. A change in consumer behavior means more people are turning to online marketplaces for their shopping, which has redefined the position of ecommerce and online businesses in the retail sector. But this positive trend isn’t an assurance for future success. You need to develop a plan that intends the growth of your ecommerce business, in a post-pandemic context. Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Revise Your Current Marketing Strategy

Assess your current messaging process to establish whether you’re relaying the right message and positioning your business in the right way to succeed after the pandemic. This step will help you identify and get rid of marketing materials that don’t resonate with the current economic and social situation. Shun sending emails, updating on social media, or engaging in any marketing campaign that may seem insensitive.

Adjust your brand’s messaging to be in line with the unique needs and demands of your customers. Your message should show to both existing and potential customers the value they’ll get from buying your products or services. Offer appropriate, concise, and meaningful communication. Be sure to address the COVID-19 impacts, and the steps that you’re taking to bounce back big time. If you’re thinking about marketing your products to overseas consumers, consider entering a strategic partnership with a professional globalization partner. Optimizing your Global PEO strategy will always benefit your business’s revenues and will help you smoothly navigate your workforce abroad right after the pandemic.

2. Provide Unparalleled Digital Customer Experience

In a rapidly expanding ecommerce landscape where many sellers are providing the same products and services, offering better digital customer experience can set your business apart from your competitors. Some of the things that can help you deliver unrivaled digital customer experience include a smart and user-friendly interface, excellent support, efficient payment options, and the right technology infrastructure.

Poor networks and lack of strong data protection measures can easily damage an otherwise well-built customer experience. Websites and payment portals with poor loading speeds will drive customers away. Consumers will also avoid companies that are vulnerable to hacking and security breaches. So laying a solid foundational infrastructure for your ecommerce business can help it grow in leaps and bounds in the future.

3. Optimize Your Website and Incorporate Live Chat

Ensure your website is as responsive as possible and accessible on a wide array of devices. Enhance your website’s speed and ensure it’s extremely easy to use no matter the device the user is using to view it. Around 48 percent of people use mobile devices to search for product information and to shop. On top of that, 47 percent of digital shoppers prefer a site with a load speed of below two seconds. Avoid driving leads to competitors by creating a highly responsive and user-friendly site.

When a consumer is gathering product information while shopping, they expect answers to their questions right away. If they can’t get a quick response, they’re likely to move on to another online store. Live chat is almost equivalent to in-store customer service due to its ability to bring the advantages of human interactions. It adds a human touch to digital shopping. Most importantly, it can be done remotely.

4. Build Reliable and Diversified Supply Chains

The pandemic has demonstrated that the global economy relies extremely on supply chains, which are susceptible to disruption. With the increasing attention to digital customer experiences, ecommerce and online businesses must invest time and effort into consistently delivering products to consumers if they want to survive after COVID-19. Supply chain interruption can result in shipping and manufacturing setbacks if a company lacks a flexible plan to address ongoing demand.

In addition to investing in excellent network uptime, ecommerce businesses should look for multiple options for obtaining materials and labor. The best way to do this is nurturing relationships with a variety of suppliers, all of whom should have the capacity to comply with the intricate compliance requirements of different sectors. A globalization partner can also connect you with the best local vendors who’ll help you reliably deliver your products to your global customers.

5. Prepare for Capacity Growth

Invest in adequate technology infrastructures, such as servers and bandwidth, to help you deal with more eCommerce traffic. Do a thorough review of your past performances, revised marketing strategy, and latest ecommerce trends to gauge the amount of traffic you’re likely to attract. This information will be important in a proper estimation of demand, and building the right capacity to exploit it.

Adopting cloud computing can help your business provide the best digital customer experience and react to ecommerce trends rapidly. It’s easy to upscale or downscale cloud computing capacity to handle growing demand quickly and effectively. For better control and flexibility, you can invest in a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

6. Be Transparent with Pricing and Consider Lowering Delivery Charges

Post-COVID-19, customer loyalty will be extremely crucial for your company. Consumers share their experiences, both positive and negative, on social media and review sites. Negative reviews can have a major negative impact on your profits margin. Avoid concealing extra fees or details that may come as an undesirable surprise during the final stages of finalizing a purchase.  Be transparent from the initial stages to keep customers pleased and loyal.

A large number of regular online shoppers end up making more purchases when shipping is free or considerably low. Lowering or doing away with delivery charges could result in a significant uptick in sales. If your current profit margins can’t accommodate this, consider value addition. You can give a discounted delivery on purchases exceeding a specific value.

Conclusion

The high ecommerce demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to become permanent even after brick-mortar stores resume operation, especially if it follows the normal trends of online shopping habits. Companies that adapt quickly will stand a better chance at growing their businesses and expanding their profit margins by exploiting this great opportunity. The above 6 tips will help them grow their businesses even in post-pandemic circumstances.

retail

The Art of Successful Multi-Channeling in Retail Sector

Headlines seem to be nothing but doom and gloom for the retail industry. Footfall on the UK high street was down 40% in July. Thousands of staff have been laid off by companies many would have considered unbreakable. Major high street names are closing stores by the score, and many others have started administration procedures. And yet, in the worst retail crisis of a generation, there are those that see an opportunity for the future – and that opportunity is e-commerce. While it can be tempting to adopt a “wait until this is all over” attitude (particularly when it comes to investing in new projects when budgets are already tight) the businesses that are leading the field in these difficult times are those that are making the most of this time to rethink and reboot their online portfolio.

It’s clear that in the current climate it’s vital for any retailer to have their own online store, but with more than half of B2C e-commerce transactions taking place on marketplaces, any successful e-tail strategy will need to involve multi-channeling. But it’s not as simple as listing on as many marketplaces and possible and just expecting buyers to start appearing – in order to gain the most benefits, retailers need to dedicate as much time and effort to multi-channeling as they do with their own e-commerce store. This may seem like too much hard work, but when you look at the benefits of marketplaces you may want to re-evaluate your priorities.

No matter how high your website appears on Google rankings, if you don’t offer your products on marketplaces you may be missing out on potential customers. Based on a recent 2019 survey, up to 49% of users start their search for products on Amazon compared with just 22% on Google. Many of these go on to make their purchase straight away – even if they’ve never come across a brand before, the level off trust provided by the marketplace itself gives consumers the confidence to try brands that they may otherwise not have considered. Other users search for products on Amazon before researching brands off the platform and may often decide to purchase from the brand page directly, so this sense Amazon can also work as an extra marketing channel to raise awareness of your brand.

But despite its apparent monopoly over the e-commerce sector, it’s important to remember that Amazon may not be for everyone. Particularly in the fashion industry, many retailers believe selling on Amazon may cheapen their product image due to the fact that so many Amazon retailers are from the low cost, super-fast fashion sector. Which brings us to one of the most important parts of your e-commerce strategy – choosing the right marketplaces for you.

When sales are struggling it can be tempting to sign up to as many platforms as possible, to go for the most well-known sites or the largest potential audiences. However, this tactic will only result in spreading your portfolio too thin and it’s all too easy to neglect under-performing sites. More effective use of your time and effort is to first analyze which marketplaces are best for your brand. Think of them as a department store – your products might be a great fit for John Lewis, but you wouldn’t necessarily want them displayed in a Walmart. And vice versa – Walmart brands are unlikely to enjoy much success by stocking in John Lewis stores. There are also a number of niche marketplaces that might be a perfect fit for your brand and allow you to access your ideal audience without the excess competition of the major players. Research each platform, look at what type of brands use them, consider online reviews and check customer testimonials. Investigate their terms – are they compatible with your own? Do they offer advertising options and detailed analytics? Finally, if looking at the attractive expansion possibilities of the international market, bear in mind local legislation.

While it may be tempting to access the huge potential of the Chinese e-commerce scene (worth an estimated $1.94 trillion USD), export laws and duties are much more complicated (and regional rather than national in some cases), so unless you have a native Chinese speaking e-commerce expert on your team you may want to leave this on the back burner.

Once you’ve chosen your selected marketplaces it’s time to optimize your listings. Bear in mind that it shouldn’t be a case of simply copying and pasting the same product descriptions for every site – this can have a negative effect on your SEO and you’ll be competing against your own online store. While it’s time-consuming, it’s highly recommended to create SEO optimized product descriptions for each marketplace you use. Look at your top competitors – what keywords are they using? How are they pitching their product? Where can your products stand out from theirs? It’s not a case of simply listing as many keywords as you can, try to create an attractive product description that will entice potential customers, but also provide enough detailed information so that there are no unexpected surprises (this should also help you reduce the rate of returns).

Where possible, you may want to dedicate some of your marketing budgets to platform-specific advertising to make sure your products are seen first, particularly when you’re new and there is a lot of competition to deal with. Many of the larger marketplaces offer assistance in setting up campaigns to make sure that your advertising budget is well-targeted, so you may even see more success than with traditional SEM.

So you’ve set up your listings, created advertising campaigns and you’re waiting for orders to start flooding in. But that’s not the end of the story. Maintenance of your channels needs to be a top priority, and the ability to react quickly to trends is the key to success. You’re unlikely to create the perfect listing straight away, but by looking at trends and reviewing your search analytics you can make small amendments to increase visibility, bring more consumers to your products, and convert more sales.

Rather than attempting to improve all of your products at once, it may be worth testing an update on one or two products and checking it’s a success before moving onto the rest. You don’t want to waste time and energy updating your whole portfolio only to find that your update actually has a negative result! As with all marketing, it’s important to be open to trial and error and to stay abreast of changes in the market and how they may affect you.

With so much preparatory work involved, it may sometimes seem like an impossible task to keep your marketplace portfolio under control. But one of the benefits of working with marketplaces is that there are a number of time-saving services that they offer which can reduce your in-house logistics and offset the time you invest in your listings. Many of the major marketplaces offer warehousing and fulfillment options, while even low-cost marketplaces like eBay provide centralized shipping solutions that can take the hassle out of pricing, particularly for international orders. With logistics being one of the most time-consuming and costly parts of the e-commerce process, having access to some of the most advanced shipment and logistics solutions available can quickly improve your customer experience and protect your investment.

With an ever-growing proliferation of e-tail stores online, the centralized accessibility provided by marketplaces is gaining ever more traction and is estimated to grow to up to 65% of the e-commerce market by 2022. And with the simple set up and low investment required to start out, they provide an invaluable service to retailers of all types looking to expand their reach. The current crisis has adversely affected sales throughout the industry as never before, but perhaps we can use this lull to our advantage and give our retail businesses the opportunity to reach a wider audience than ever before?

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TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace has taken the user-friendly marketplace platform and reimagined it for the wholesale industry. Brands and retailers can now connect online with the same ease as ordering a weekly shop. TradeGala – the future of the wholesale fashion industry.