7 Bottlenecks in Fashion & Lifestyle Wholesale That Slow Down Your Sales

After being present at the fashion & lifestyle wholesale industry for over a decade, there are several challenges that we have seen brands come across. Whether it is the systems or tools they use and their capabilities, or the sales approach they follow, there is only one thing for sure: traditional sales methods are still present in the wholesale industry, leading to repetitive tasks and slow revenue streams.

1. Centralize all data, manage & distribute in one place

Systems. Brands in fashion & lifestyle wholesale have plenty. Some of them help them find visuals of their collection, while other tools such as ERP systems assist them in inventory management, product info, order management, production/purchasing, and at last, customer relationships. And the biggest struggle? Everything has to be connected to each other. The result is pretty obvious on a day-to-day basis: a lot of time and effort to go through the maze and find the respective information (product content, order data etc) you need for your clients.

But things don’t have to be so daunting. There is a possibility to bundle all systems together and manage your data, visuals, and materials from one single place. In one single source of truth. Colect, is taking this integration to the next level. Not only do we connect all channels/systems together, but building upon this philosophy, we make sure that all data your team see is always updated.

2. Create consistency & guidance in the wholesale journey

So far, we have noticed that whether you are a sales rep in a small or top brand, you normally do everything yourself. From storytelling to presentations and order assortments. This often creates an inconsistency:

  • In the storyline of the collection.
  • The marketing materials used.
  • The sales approach for every client.

Having centralized data in one single place, though, not only helps sales reps to find data on orders and product availabilities, but also gives them guidance. Guidance on how the entire customer journey should look like. Having a sales tool in place, give brands more control over the entire process. From beginning to end. For instance, what content products should be shown in every step of the customer journey, how should the order be built and how the order is shared with the client. The best part? Everything can be tailored based on the company identity and in one single place. This is how brand like Marc O’ Polo, GANT and Denham make sure that they provide the same quality and consistency in the sales process from the initial idea to go-to-market.

3. Let buyers and sellers work together

Another bottleneck that we have seen in the industry is the fact that buyers and sellers work separately. Most of the time, the client decides to select different products from a collection catalog and sends their preferences to the sales rep. No real interaction between them. No pro-activeness from the sales rep. This loss of interactivity is only the beginning of the domino effect: sales reps miss the chance to provide personal guidance on order proposals, create personalized offers, and build assortments based on historical orders.

But there are plenty of intelligent solutions out there that can help wholesale brands save a lot of time and actually work together with their buyers as a unified team. When you employ a B2B wholesale platform for your sales reps, the customer always receives a unique experience as the process of ordering is fast and simple. Long gone the days when you had to waste time back tracking, going through previous customer reports, flipping through files to find historical records while in the meeting. With a click of the mouse you can visit your tailored dashboards, check all analytics and have instant access to previous interactions, and sales order history. And to make things even more interactive and modern, while presenting the new season’s collection, you can immediately add products to the cart, design multiple sets, take digital notes or even print lineplans and share them via WhatsApp. A concrete example is Colect’s Sales App and Brand Portal. Sales reps and clients work closely together on the same assortments and orders while optimising the communication and relationship building.

4. Empower hybrid & remote selling teams

Not all accounts require high travel costs and high effort in visiting them physically. Just like in marketing, smaller accounts should be treated differently than key accounts. So far, this distinction lacks in the fashion & lifestyle industry for one main reason: brands lack the capabilities of offering remote selling options. The results are very much costly: long hours of travelling with big amount of samples around a country, Europe, or even to different continent. In such a digitalized era, sales teams should be able to work smarter and not harder, always with a touch of personalization to make every customer feel unique. How do you do that?

You combine the best of both worlds in your strategy. Depending on your channel capabilities and brand’s direction, you should be active in all channels. Supporting the digital with the physical world will give you a smarter direction on your way of working to convince the customer to buy your new summer collection!

5. Bring collection presentations to life

Fashion is all about emotions and visualizations. Most of the time, we notice that brands in wholesale “avoid” going fully digital, afraid that they will “lose” the client due to lack of emotional connection. But going digital doesn’t mean you take away these two strong components.

Going digital means that you build upon your presentations to make them more complete and easy to use. In fact, adding inspiring live videos and model shots can only make your order and pitch more convincing and stimulating for your clients. But more importantly, you become faster, while creating a bigger interaction with the client. Adding a technological and digital angle to your collection presentation will only give more sense of control to the retailer. And together, you can build the perfect order.

6. Personalize assortments based on your buyers

Personalization can be distinguished in two categories: order personalization and tailored access. The former is simple. Just like in retail, not all buyers are interested in the same products from your collection. Very often, due to lack of technological tools, sales reps are just sending the entire new collection to customers and then let them choose. However, when giving customers hundreds of different options without guiding them, it might make them feel a bit confused and overwhelmed.

And then there is the issue of data safety and security. In a lot of cases, multiple retailers are seeing the orders of other customers just because the access rights are limited, and everyone is working on the same sheet or presentation. And in an era when everyone is concerned about their own identity online, creating this visibility around your entire clientele can cause a negative impact on your brand name.

At Colect, you can solve these two issues quickly and efficiently. Firstly, our sophisticated features can help sales reps build a clear and custom overview of the most relevant product groups for each customer. This means that they can create product groups based on previous purchases, filter their assortments based on client name, or even match pre-selected items with these of the customer’s favorite selection during the assortment building. Regarding the data security issue, it is possible to give different access rights on individual products/collections for different buyers. Hence, no one can wander around the assortments of other clients or your presentations.

7. Display your brand and collection identity in all orders

Personalization has long been hailed as the secret of modern sales. However, what sales teams are missing sometimes is their collection identity. Sales reps are visiting clients trying to make personalized orders, missing the bigger picture: the story and uniqueness of the collection. Instead of selling pieces separately, they should be aiming at creating key looks with a special narrative or philosophy behind them.

The reason why? As mentioned before, it’s all about emotion and immersing customers into the entire collection concept. Consumers in fashion & lifestyle buy concepts. And helping retailers to do so, they can easily sell it to their own clients in the store. Especially now, that physical stores are back in fashion - based on a Shopify research - wholesalers should empower their clients to sell more. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, after all.

How a SaaS solution can make a difference Tech can be the facilitator of change even in a traditional industry such as wholesale. Thanks to Colect’s solutions - Brand Portal, Sales App, Digital Showroom - more than 450 fashion brands were able to adopt a structured, data-driven, and sustainable way of presenting and selling their collections leading to an interactive relationship with their clients.

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