Securing stockists as a designer is a huge and vital challenge to take your brand to the next level.
After all, your stockist will be your representing interface for every customer who buys your collection, and aligning your choice of top targets with your brand image is the first important step. Then there is the challenge of getting larger quantity orders from significant stockists so that you easily achieve the minimums for production, get a broad spectrum of customer exposure, as well as having their seal of approval on your brand which in turn opens other doors.
While the larger stores are very attractive for the reasons above, it has been the smaller ones that for me have been the most responsive in giving customer feedback, which I can encompass to continually improve the brand. The flexibility to try new things, mid season drops on new styles in response to shifts in the market, as well as promotions and marketing collaborations have been welcomed by them. The red tape and bureaucracy with larger stores can be frustrating, as it takes so long to get things through the hierarchical system, that a simple sales promotion will have become defunct by the time it’s been approved. This is my largest market exposure to work with and drive sales with probably the biggest results, but is the least likely channel to work with me. Just getting deliveries through the door can involve mounds of paper work and limited delivery slots, when individual outlets are an easy drop to the shop.
What I am coming to recognise is that with any business you run or are working for, associating yourself with similar sized companies can be very beneficial. A start up will take you seriously as a small business looking to work together, and to be on a level with the big players you have to have mutual interdependence to ensure that both parties are animated to work at optimum speed.
Ideally a good mix in the stockists from small, medium to large is the dream scenario and to focus in the beginning on pushing the smaller stockist to grow with me is perhaps more work for smaller orders, but ultimately if I become their best selling brand they will be loyal and great partners to work with.