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Hybrid wholesale: a necessity or a luxury?

As times change, and brands continue to adapt on how they do business to serve their customers in the most efficient way, there is one thing that has become clear for the wholesale industry: hybrid sales is the new way of selling collections in the future.

A hybrid sales model means that you can use technological tools inside your sales journey to enable everyone within your business - retailers, sales reps and sales agents - to use their time wisely to maximize their impact and commercial results.

Mapping the challenges in wholesale

In the past 3 years, Colect noticed a couple of challenges for B2B fashion and lifestyle brands.

First and foremost, working with physical samples has always been a struggle for most brands. To get them produced, shipped and delivered into the multiple showrooms before the beginning of the pre-order season was a recurring challenge. Undoubtedly, this also came with high costs, effort and a large carbon footprint.

Additionally, Colect detected that a lot of branded, marketing and product content that was created by the brands and was presented to the sales teams during new line launches, was not used in the customer journey of the retailers.

As a result, the Colect team was triggered to start exploring how to solve these pain points and improve the customer journey - especially for pre-ordering - by adding digital assets in this process. The goal was simple: maintain the power of being able to feel specific fabrics and fits, while empowering human interaction between buyers and sellers.

The hybrid showroom was born!

A vital need rather than an upcoming trend

For everyone who works in wholesale, it’s not a secret that currently, all processes in the supply chain are under pressure. Efficiency and a short(er) time-to-market are crucial drivers of success. Besides that, consumers have developed a growing focus on sustainability. Therefore, brands aim to reduce their carbon footprint to contribute to that.

Digital support of the physical in-showroom interaction between brands and their retail partners helps to address these topics and actually turns these challenges into opportunities.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of a hybrid showroom setup are numerous:

  1. Cost reduction.
  2. Time to market reduction for new (pre-order) collections, flash assortments down to specific items and colorways.
  3. Carbon footprint reduction.
  4. Flexibility increase.
  5. Sustainability improvement.

On the sales side, it puts the sell-in process to a new level by integrating brand building, storytelling and key look presentation seamlessly into the sales process of customer specific assortment and order building. In fact, this shift from product selling into consultative selling speeds up the ordering process and results in better balanced orders which reflects the specific story behind the collection and the individual products.

“Besides cost and time savings, buyers really look forward to visiting us and have much more fun in the buying process.”

What are the preconditions for brands to adopt an approach like this?

Important pre-conditions to successfully implement a hybrid showroom is an open mind, forward thinking and putting together inspirational & educational content. Luckily, most of this content is usually already available like inspiration memo’s from the product and the design team, lookbooks, brand movies as well as model and product videos. In some cases, brands reshape and pull forward their content creation process to be able to add more inspiration to the pre-sales journey.

As a strategic partner, Colect supports brands in this process of change management by sharing knowledge, experience and best practices.

What is the best practice to adopt a hybrid approach?

The journey towards the adoption of an approach like this, starts with small and simple improvements that are focused mainly on content.

With the help of powerful visuals, sales reps can immerse clients into the story of the brand and the new collections while explaining the colors, designs, fits and fabrics which are carefully selected to create beautiful items.

“Adding extra digital content to the traditional showroom sales, we have been able to inspire our customers far more and made them better understand the brand story and our concept”

If you feel you need some help in this, look for best-of-breed solutions and team up with a strategic partner which can support this journey. And finally, continue to build on top of each success’s next step.

What are tangible results after using hybrid sales?

Brands that Colect has supported in implementing a hybrid setup have achieved multiple results. One of the biggest highlights is that they were able to reduce their sample costs by 30% to 50% saving up to hundreds of thousands of euros. In some cases even millions.

What’s more, a digital showroom in a physical environment also made brands more flexible in adding new items and colorways during the pre-order campaign and helped to reduce their carbon footprint significantly.

Last but not least, Colect also registered a strong growth of sales for example in up and cross-sell by presenting key assortments and key look and improved sell-out.

A new opportunity for growth at your doorstep

As we look to the future, B2B fashion and lifestyle brands of every size should invest in a true hybrid sales approach. It starts with a change of mindset and ends with maintaining long-lasting, trusted and more profitable customer relationships. If you are curious to explore more about Colect’s hybrid showroom and examine all the possibilities for your brand, download our free brochure below.

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