Big Opportunity For Savvy Fashion Retailers

Owning any retail business (including fashion, clothing, footwear, jewellery) in the current economic climate is a challenge. However it’s also a ‘golden’ opportunity.

What would you rather do? Purchase a fashion business at the peak of the market (last peak was 2007) and pay the ‘peak’ price. Or obtain a bargain at the bottom of the market which can only move up?

Although I’ve included yet another article from "Gerry Harvey" – love him or hate him, he certainly knows the retailing trends in Australia (see article below).

Underperforming retailers are closing – often business owners have seen a decline in sales from 2008 to now – and they’re worn out, frustrated and tired.

A perfect time to make them a ‘fair’, yet realistic offer.

The challenge for you – if you decide to purchase a fashion business right now- it to be able to maintain a positive profit figure in the current consumer market. Certainly paying too much for the business and stock won’t help.

However, if you have bought well, kept a very close eye on your stock levels and marketed your store using some of our low cost marketing strategies – then you’ve really got a lean and profitable store with good sales growth potential when consumers return to spending (which they will). Not only will you take advantage of the increase in cash-flow, but also capital growth too!

Gerry Harvey Fashion Business Retail

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Fashion Retail Sales Slowdown Australia-wide

Consistent with the emails and phone calls we receive from fashion retailers all over Australia is this last weekend photo in the Weekend Australian (30-31 July 2011).

"Kira Stutton has seen a steep decline in sales figures for the shop she manages in Adelaide."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has confirmed consumers are saving more and spending less. I believe many fashion retailers became lazy and complacent with their marketing over the ‘boom’ years and now as store traffic has declined they are feeling the pinch. The need for good (if not, great) fashion marketing is more important than ever to bring customers into your store!

Fashion business sales adelaide store

Photo source: Weekend Australian (30-31 July 2011)

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

How To Advertise Your Fashion Retail Boutique Store

Imagine – today a small boutique fashion retail store opens for the first time. How does the owner attract people and potential customers – where no store brand, awareness or recognition existed before?

fashion advertising for boutique retail stores

If, like most fashion retail store owners – they buy $50,000 to $200,000 in stock, make the shop nice, and then open the doors hoping to attract customers.

Perhaps, if they have any money left over – they place a few fashion advertisements, showing off a new season garment, shoes, jewellery or accessories.

This is a very slow way to advertise and market a fashion retail store.

I’ll let you in on a little ‘secret’…

Most retailers, want a customer to make a sale (i.e. to make profit). Whilst the smart retailer, wants to make a sale to get a customer!

This is profound. I hope you see the distinction.

If a fashion store can build a strong clientele base quickly – the store can achieve profitability much sooner. The alternative however, is years of slowly rising revenue using traditional fashion advertising which in most cases is not very effective.

Most fashion retailers still rely on the same techniques to advertise and market their store – where ‘smarter’, more efficient methods are available today.

About the author. I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Will Mobile Phone Shopping Affect Fashion Retailing & Marketing?

Mobile Phone Apps and Fashion Marketing and Retailing

What do you think about the above article from the Wall St Journal? It’s an important shopping trends not only for US consumers but for Australian shoppers as well.

Fashion retailers, importers, designers, wholesalers, manufacturers and anyone that sells a fashion ‘product’ will be affected by the growing trend towards researching and even purchasing fashion online.
Once wary and shy consumers are now experienced online consumers by the use of ebay, Google, Gumtree and even Facebook.

Whilst many traditional brick’s’morter fashion retailers look at online shopping as a possible way to reduce their overheads (offering more stock without increasing floor space and reducing staff costs) it means they are now competing even more.

Whilst fashion retailing is less exposed to the move to online shopping due to the need for consumers to ‘try-it-on’ – certain fashion merchandise and products could be – such as shoes, bags, belts, hats, jewellery and so on.

Fashion marketing, branding and the retail experience for the customer has to be even better so that consumers WANT to make the trip to a retail store. This factor has become more and more important and may mean the difference between success or failure in fashion retailing.

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Fashion Retailing Meets The Titanic

I get correspondence from a surprising number of fashion retailers who own smaller stores where the annual sales revenue is ‘stuck’ at $200k, $300k or even $500k per annum. I’m told that not only have ‘sales growth’ have been stagnant this year, but for many years.

When I write back to ask them what fashion marketing, advertising or customer relationship activities they are working on – I usually get this response…

"Oh, we need to buy some new stock and move our displays around. We should have this all done soon. Maybe we can look at marketing next year."

Talk about "Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic!"

Running a fashion business like the titanic

If 100% of fashion marketing ‘activity’ is stock ordering and moving it around the store…

Beware!!!

It’s like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a difference result".

Yes, buying new stock and making the store displays attractive is important. Good visual merchandising does lead to increased sales. However, it can’t occupy 100% of the fashion business owner’s time.

At least 1-3 hours a week should be devoted to fashion promotion and working on the marketing calendar. You can’t expect store sales growth without this activity. It just won’t happen.

So when I get the ‘deck chair replies’ – I say to myself … "Insanity"!

If you are a fashion retail store owner and do spend 1-3 hours a week on ‘non-titanic’ activities – well done.

If not, or if you don’t know how to break-through to higher sales revenue, contact us about our fashion marketing programs. Not only will you save time and money ‘experimenting’, you will get actual proven and tested promotions ‘ready to roll-out’ for instant sales and more cash in your bank account.

Click here to contact us, or click here to join our entry level Fashion Retail Insiders program for only $47 per month.

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Using The Mailbox Flyer Fashion Marketing Strategy Successfully

"Fashion Retailer Brings In An Extra 51 People In One Week!" – but, first a little background information…

Shoe store fashion marketing logo

Often fashion retailers approach me and say they don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising. If their fashion shop is in a residential area, or in a suburban shopping centre, I often recommend the mailbox flyer marketing strategy.

A mailbox flyer is a one page pamphlet stuffed into residential mailboxes (letter boxes).

Many retailers may have tried flyers in the past, but stopped because they didn’t get a good result. However, John’s Shoe Store brought in an additional 51 people in one week last month (they tracked them) using the flyer from our Customer Marketing Sales Kit.

Getting a good result from a flyer design down to simplicity with a marketing message that entices the reader to visit the store.

Often retailers will focus too much on a ‘branding’ message rather than a design focusing on new styles and looks. Sure, you can achieve a similar result from Community Newspaper advertising, but occasionally I like to ‘mix-up’ the marketing to reach local, surrounding homes for stronger store recognition and branding.

Oh yeah, a tip: I prefer the A5 size (1/2 A4) as it doesn’t require folding (as you would need to do for the A4 size), you get double the amount of flyers when printing, and the A5 size is easy for someone to put in letter boxes.

Fashion marketing with mailbox flyers

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Getting Good Results From Your Fashion Advertising

Having a quiet week? Want to bring in more store traffic – right now?

Good, consistent store traffic year round is the holy grail of fashion retailing. There’s no point spending money on good stock, hiring the best sales staff, having the nicest store with the best customer service if people don’t come in. Ensuring regular people traffic is one of the major challenges for most fashion retailers.

Message branding advertising

Our Fashion Retail Insiders know the twelve (12) specific ways to bring in more traffic to a fashion store and they understand the specific tactics that make them successful.

Many of the twelve traffic strategies will be familiar to you, like … print media advertising, internet fashion advertising, good building signage, referral programs, and so on…

However, in order to get a good result from any fashion advertising or marketing campaign, a specific tactic or marketing message, is required.

For many smaller retailers especially (and larger fashion retailers too), the focus needs to be on generating a customer. Yes, absolutely branding is important, but if it’s the sole message in the advertisement, it will be a costly expense for the retailer – as we say in the marketing game – "you need deep pockets". A better way, is to employ a marketing message that brings in paying customers AND builds your brand at the same time. That way your fashion advertising and marketing will pay for itself.

Take for example; Fashion Retail Insider  Gill from John’s Shoe Store. Gill took one of our designs and tested a very small advertisement in the local community newspaper – it brought in $1,382.70. Granted it was a very small advertisement and dollar sale, but you can see the potential of running a similar advert weekly. i.e. $1,382.70 x 52 weeks is $71,900.

I’m sure adding almost $72,000 in annual revenue would be welcome by any fashion retailer.

Not only is the revenue important, but see what else happens :

  • 12 new customers were introduced to the business (from one week) – that would be 624 new customers a year. Those customers would return to make additional purchases and refer other people to the store, and,
  • The retail store would achieve brand awareness with the readers of the local community newspaper.

And that’s a good result from fashion advertising!

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Why Oh Why Are We Not Meeting Our Fashion Sales Targets?

I had a call this week from a fashion store owner who doesn’t work in the store himself (it’s under management). He was frustrated with the low numbers of paying customers even after placing "Up to 75% off" signs on the store windows. This business owner was convinced that the shopping centre was doing a lousy job of attracting people.

But you see, there are two aspects to obtaining paying customers… 1) Store traffic and, 2) Sales conversion.

Fashion retail sale sign

I had a feeling that the staff weren’t doing such a good job of selling.

The only way to find out is to measure TRAFFIC AND SALES. From that the sales conversion can be worked out.

For most fashion retailers the sales conversion rate will be between 10% to 40%. That is, out of 10 people that walk-in, one to four will buy.

Whoa, I bet you’re telling me your sales conversion is much higher. Okay, prove it!

Below is a sample store browsers chart. Rule a single page with 6 columns and mark one line for each person that walks into the store every day over one week (count a couple and families as one person).

Then check your sales numbers at the end of the week (from your POS or till). Divide # sales / # browsers and multiply by 100. That’s your conversion as a percentage.

Then you’ll know if your staff are doing a good job or not. If your conversion is below 10% you’ve got a BIG problem!

P.S. The more accurate way of obtaining your store traffic numbers is to install an automatic people counter – I have discussed this on a previous post on this website.

Fashion retail store success

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

When Is The Right Time To Open Your Next Fashion Retail Store? Part 2

I know, I know – you’re itching to open your next fashion retail store.

If your next store is store number 3 (or more) – I reckon you must have created a very good store opening process, so I would say go for it.

However, if it’s your second store – BEWARE – there are pitfalls.

Fashion retail store fit out

Many single store owners are tempted to open a second store because the first fashion retail store may not be performing that well and an opportunity arises to have another store in perhaps a better location.

Watch out – not only could this be a money trap, it can be a time trap as well.

I’ve personally met ‘stressed-out’ fashion retailers who try very hard to keep two stores profitable, by cutting staff time and working unrealistic hours, running back and forth between the two retail outlets. What often happens (and I’ve heard this first hand on the telephone from these poor retailers) is that they will finally close one store and be stuck with a big financial loss, excess stock, and excess store fittings. This extra burden puts more pressure on the cash-flow of the remaining store and often the retailer will close that store too, and be out-of-business!

It’s a heart-breaking situation, but unfortunately all too common in the fashion business world.

Here’s how to avoid that situation…

Guidelines for opening your second fashion retail store

Your single store MUST be able to stand on it’s own. That is, the store needs be profitable by being staffed without you being there. That is, your full-time staff member(s) and casuals cover 100% of the store hours. Another way to look at it – could you take three months off and still have an open store when you got back?

If not, please don’t open that second store – you’re not ready yet!

When you open your second store, you’ll need to give it your full attention for perhaps several months – to get everything right so it’s a profitable store too – you can’t be worrying about your original shop.

To have a fashion retail store that is profitable without you requires good marketing systems, good sales systems and good procedures for the staff to follow. Not only will this information make your first store very profitable, it will essentially form the basis of a ‘cookie-cutter’ system which will allow you not only to open a second store, but many others too.

For more information on good fashion marketing take a look at our FREE mini-course (click here).

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

When Is The Right Time To Open Your Next Fashion Retail Store? Part 1

Oh boy, this is literally the million-dollar question.

When it comes down to it, there is only so much sales revenue and profit you can generate from one fashion retail store. You are usually limited by floor space and how much stock you can display.

However, you can generate a lot more revenue from one store than you might think. I love this real-life business story…

Beechworth retail store

“Tom O’Toole turned a failing little bakery in an isolated and dying Australian country town (Beechworth, VIC) with a population of 3,000 into a company with an annual turnover in excess of $12 million, serving over one million customers per year.”

“A bakery that has become one of the highest earning single bakery retailers in Australian history.”

So how do you grow your revenue in your existing fashion store. Again, in a nutshell, it comes down to good branding and fashion marketing, good products and great customer service.

You may have read or heard of my comments about branding – essentially I subscribe to the Dan Kennedy marketing rule… “Branding should be a by-product of good marketing”.

In other words, advertising or marketing that generates customers at a profit and pays itself – should always be your primary goal. We’ll discuss this further at another time.

So, to summarise – you don’t always need to open that next store, right now. You can squeeze out a lot more profit out of the store(s) you own already. But, if you’re still thinking about that new fashion store – I’ll go through on my next post some very important things you’ll need to consider before you put down a deposit on that new lease. Watch this space.

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Retail Shopping Centre Fashion Advertising

Shopping Centre fashion retail advertising

Do you have a retail store located in a shopping centre? If so, I’m sure you’re familiar with the extremely high rent and outgoings bill you receive every month.

Besides the building and services component – a portion of your monthly fee to the shopping centre company also covers centre promotion and advertising. It’s the shopping centre’s role to bring in people so they can charge the retailer a fee for the space. Nothing new with that.

However, it’s actually a good idea to know how much of your annual rent is attributed to receiving store traffic (browsers and customers).

Let say you have a 30m2 store. Figure 1 : Your current shopping centre rent (let’s use $50,000 per annum for simpicity). Figure 2 : The cost of renting a 30m2 office in a street in the back lots of an industrial area (let’s say it costs $15,000 per annum). The difference $35,000, is the annual cost paid for the ‘better’ location (shopping centre v.s. back lots).

Some retailers choose to have a store located in a quieter street location and not in a shopping centre, but in order to create the same revenue, much more money needs to be spent on fashion advertising.

i.e. Shopping Centre = high rent, lower individual store fashion advertising expenses.

Quiet location = lower rent, higher individual store fashion advertising expenses (in order to produce a similar annual revenue).

There is aways that trade-off. Whether one option is better or not for your store really comes down to your level of experience in fashion retailing, your brand and sales system.

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Fashion Advertising : How To Get People To Visit Your Fashion Store Website

People visiting your website (or traffic as it’s called in the internet world) can be a source of new customers for your fashion retail store.

Fashion retail store online advertising

In my last post, I talked about the advantages of having a website for your retail store. The next step is to discuss ‘traffic’.

Just like in your physical brick’n’morter store, the more people that visit your website, the more new customers and sales you will generate. Before we can look at ways to increase traffic to your retail store website using advertising, let’s examine the ways people usually search for, or come across a website…

Method 1 – SEARCH) They search for an existing brand using a search engine. e.g. They search for "Nike".

Method 2 – SEARCH) They search for an existing product using a search engine. e.g. They search for "Nike SB".

Method 3 – NEWS / PUBLICITY) They skim the news topics in online, or in traditional media, find an interesting fashion article, read it, and then visit your web site.

Method 4 – ONLINE ADVERTISING) They see a product they like advertised on a portal / directory / web site they visit frequently.

Method 5 – OFFLINE ADVERTISING) They see a product they like advertised in traditional media like newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, etc. Then they type the URL of your web site into their web browser, or search online for your store name.

Method 6 – ONLINE LIST ADVERTISING) The product / brand / label is promoted via email to a list of people who have subscribed to receive an e-newsletter. The link in the e-newsletter takes them to your website.

Method 7 – DIRECT) The prospect / customer visits the retail store and at some point visits your fashion web site by typing the URL into their web browser.

These are the main methods of bringing traffic to your retail web site. Most retailers will need to look at utilising several of these marketing methods, not just one. My recommendation is to take some time to sit down to think about and create an online marketing plan and how that plan ties in with your current website design and sales strategy.

For example, are you using your fashion store website to get people to visit your store, or to make a purchase online, or to subscribe to your online newsletter?

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!

Fashion Industry Contacts – Associations

Australian Retailers Association

I recently received an email request for assistance with finding fashion industry contacts. My advice was to visit a number of Australian association web sites. After sending the reply email, I thought other people may benefit from a list of Australian associations involved with fashion. So here they are.

P.S. If you come across any others or have updated information please make a comment on this page and we’ll update our list.

Fashion Industry Association List. Dated (23rd April 2010).

Australian Fashion Council (AFC)
www.australianfashioncouncil.com

Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia Limited (TFIA)
www.tfia.com.au

National Retail Association (NRA)
www.nra.net.au
NRA has a lot of fashion retailers

The Retailers Association (TRA) – now called United Retail Federation

United Retail Federation
www.unitedretailfederation.com.au
Membership Australia-wide.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA)
www.retail.org.au

Fashion Technicians Association of Australia (FTAA)
www.ftaa.com.au

About the author: I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Smart Fashion Marketing (Kinetic Media & Marketing) – an Australian consulting business that assists fashion retailers to increase sales and improve business value. Because we have a passion for marketing, our retail business clients enjoy better store and label brand exposure, greater cash-flow and more time off to enjoy the finer things in life!