3 Keys to a Successful Retailer-Brand Partnership
Guest columnists Kendra Bridelle and Ashley Davis Sigman break down the importance of familiarity, story-telling, and intention.
Retailers cannot invest in a brand and expect it to flourish all on its own. Like children or a garden, a brand must be tended to and nurtured.
Brands, no matter the level of consumer awareness, rarely sell themselves. Successful sell-through comes from a multidimensional strategic plan that includes buying, merchandising, training, marketing, organization, communication and clienteling.
The retailer/brand relationship takes a significant investment of time and money at the onset.
Once product arrives at the store level, a well-developed plan will allow you to avoid “failure to launch.” That plan should involve the following steps.
Collaboration is key! After ensuring the best assortment/price points are selected, bring together the retailer’s internal teams: inventory, merchandising, marketing, and sales.
If the retailer has multiple doors, include the owners and store managers.
Utilize the corporate brand training and incentives that are offered. Get the team excited about the product. They sell what they are familiar with so create brand ambassadors from within.
Train the staff on the brand’s history, collections, inspiration, materials and construction, warranties, and repairs. Encourage staff to have fun, touch the product and try it on. If they wear it, they will sell it.
When introducing a new brand, demonstrate how to style customers, including layering and incorporating the new line with existing brands that clients already own and wear. Get creative and role play to best understand the selling advantages.
Include members of key departments, not just sales associates. Do not underestimate the power of cross-training departments.
Everyone who works at the retail level is a potential brand ambassador so include the service department, merchandisers, buyers, inventory, administrative and marketing teams.
In peak selling times, non-sales team members become auxiliary sellers. Get to know these silent sellers!
Also, don’t forget to tap into sales incentives and employee discounts.
Many brands offer programs, discounts, and spiffs. View these as an extension of compensation to maximize pay and benefits.
If sellers make self-purchases through store or brand discounts or winning and wearing the product, a natural brand champion is born.
Tell the Story
Tell the story of the brand and its collections across multiple touchpoints—in store, online and through outside entities.
Use visual displays and merchandising, website, email, digital and in-store signage, events and get creative with editorial content creation, all synchronized for the official brand launch as well as future collection announcements.
Retailers need to regularly and consistently introduce each new brand and collection to existing clients, and they need to think beyond the showroom to do so.
Forge partnerships with local lifestyle or fashion magazines that need editorial content.
Collaborate with your community. Form alliances with regional businesses or charitable organizations, which can identify a potential new customer base for the brand and retailer.
Host an in-store or offsite event to generate buzz and create a unique experience for guests for the brand’s debut. Brands should send a representative to participate in these events.
For retailers, case space is too valuable not to perform.
For brands, they need to ask themselves, how much does it cost to do business with specific retailers? When will there be a profit?
At the end of the day, both retailers and brands are looking for their return on their investment.
Often, it is the smaller stores that are most nimble and can better implement the above initiatives. Larger, multi-door regional or major chains more often have a more difficult time meeting these challenges.
It is the store owner’s and buyer’s responsibility to ensure all parties are working together to build a successful partnership. One cannot succeed without the other.
Today’s lesson: take the time to create a rollout plan, engage your entire team, and make it a priority to shine a light on the new brand.
If these steps are taken, both businesses will grow and flourish.
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