Wholesale continues to be significantly more cost-effective for customer acquisition than the direct-to-consumer business model. Namely, brands are able to greatly expand their brick-and-mortar presence while sharing costs with retail stores and avoiding the pitfalls associated with primarily marketing online. However, it isn’t every partnership that is destined for success. Brands are advised to harness the power of data to identify their ideal retail partners, determine the best merchandising strategies and to discern bestsellers and trends.
Work proactively and collaboratively in your wholesale partnerships; ensure the success of your next brand/retail collaboration by incorporating these five steps into your strategy.
1. Determine Retailer Compatibility.
“It’s like dating. It’s really important to meet with as many [retailers] as possible… and think about them being people you can grow with.”
– Molly Howard, Co-Founder & CEO, La Ligne (Source)
Begin by assessing your brand and your competitors:
- What are your price points, categories, and USPs (unique selling propositions)?
- Which brands and which category offerings would make the most sense as your adjacent brands in stores?
- Create a list according to the criteria above and then expand the list by using your B2B e-commerce platform to discover top retailers around the globe.
“We tend to get proof of concept very quickly. There a lot of DTC brands coming and gaining mindshare with consumers that are resonating with our customers. We’re paying attention to what those brands are and working hard to change our model with them.”
– Tricia Smith, EVP and GMM, Nordstrom (Source)
2. Identify Bestsellers and Trends.
One of the most desirable benefits of B2B e-commerce is enjoying a wealth of data and insights at your fingertips. Analyze your sales reports and production forecasts to identify bestsellers and discover category-specific trends.
“Data [are] exceptionally useful to detect when a rising trend is about to hit mass adoption and to anticipate the decline of a trend.”
– Andrea Bell, Head of Insight, WGSN (Source)
Leverage your wholesale contacts too; talk to buyers to uncover their most highly-anticipated trends for upcoming seasons. Use your sales performance history and all of the aforementioned findings to continually identify the most promising categories and SKUs to present to wholesale clientele.
3. Develop a Product Distribution Strategy.
Growing revenue and increasing brand awareness are certainly key, however, it’s important to implement a product distribution strategy that offers different merchandise to different regions, consumer groups, and stores. A one-size-fits-all approach is a quick route to losing prized wholesale partners and bearing the costs of expensive retailer returns. Once you’ve developed your strategy, use your B2B e-commerce platform to set product visibility controls. This will ensure every wholesale account only receives access to the SKUs and options you’ve extended specifically to their stores.
Finally, be sure to reserve a portion of your SKUs for direct-to-consumer sales. These pieces will generate excitement and give your wholly-owned retail channels a special edge. In the same vein, offer exclusive products to a few of your most-valued wholesale clients. They’ll invest additional dollars to market these products and your brand to their target audiences.
4. Send Personalized Sales Campaigns.
Collection announcements aside, it’s almost never a sound idea to mass email your wholesale partners. Use your B2B e-commerce platform to develop dynamic distribution lists for all of your marketing emails, making any necessary changes prior to every campaign. Make it a collaborative effort; create personalized line sheets and sales presentations tailored to specific retailers’ or specific lists’ needs. The more relevant your marketing message is to any given retailer, the higher the odds you’ll make the sale, increase AOV and build upon existing relationships.
5. Adapt and Evolve.
Stay in touch throughout the year- whether via in-person meetings (i.e. during market), phone calls, email campaigns or a combination of these actions. For better or worse, the quality of your wholesale business relies on the quality of your relationships with buyers. Staying in touch is also a great way to stay informed of what’s new. Industry resources can help support this practice so you know when an account has introduced a new category, new stores, events, marketing strategies and more.
Your wholesale relationships should change over time. Analyze your accounts on a quarterly basis to pinpoint opportunities for growth, potential new partners and partnerships that no longer benefit your brand. Maintaining a fresh wholesale business is a recipe for success- for both you and your valued partners.
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