More Customers For Your Online Store – Part 1

What types fashion marketing activities are effective for your online store?

As an online fashion retailer of cosmetics, shoes, jewellery, clothing or fashion accessories, you probably don’t have a lot of money to spend on fashion marketing and advertising.

So what can you do to increase sales?

fashion marketing online store

One way is to focus on your most popular items (say the top 10) and examine where the sales enquiries (or visitors) come from.

For example, you may be a stockist of a particular brand and most of your web traffic for that brand comes via the company’s website where your link is listed as a retail supplier.

To find this out check your website statistics or your Google Analytics account.

 

Oh, by the way, if you are an online fashion retailer, you really should have Google Analytics installed (ask your website person for assistance with this).

STEP 2 – Increase website traffic

The next step is to see how else you can increase traffic (and the sales) of those top 10 products.

You can do this by:

  • Improving the SEO ranking for those product pages
  • Utilising social media such as Facebook
  • Using directories and other relevant fashion website to produce traffic
  • Maybe look at paid online advertising as long as it makes you money

If you would know the specifics of how these strategies work in more detail then check out our fashion marketing secrets mini-course, CLICK HERE for free access.

 

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!

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!

What Are QR Codes And How Can They Be Used In Your Fashion Business

Business marketing Perth using QR codes

What are QR codes? Well, they’re similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The main difference between the two is the amount of data they can communicate.

Traditional barcodes which I’m sure you’re familiar with use vertical lines and can only hold up to 20 digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) and can hold much more information.

When a customer scans or reads a QR code with their iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, the phone can automatically:

  • Be linked to a web page (for your shop, or fashion business)
  • Activate a number of phone functions including email, messaging or SMS
  • Directed to an online video (Youtube, etc)
  • Display prices or other data about a product, etc

Really it makes it EASIER for a customer (or potential customer) to obtain further information about a product – WITHOUT having to enter in information (e.g. your website address). It’s a good fashion marketing and sales tool.

I’ve recently seen a big goods retailer use QR codes as a ‘teaser’ for advertised specials. So it will be interesting to keep tabs on the varied (and creative) uses for QR codes in fashion retailing and business.

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!

You Need Deep Pockets Using This Type Of Fashion Advertising

This is a classic example of the "image" style of fashion advertising which I saw in a magazine recently…

fashion advertising mens clothing

Why do I say you need deep pockets to run this fashion advertisement?

Someone has paid a large sum of money $1,000 or more to run this advertisement to ‘brand’ their clothing label and fashion business.

This "image" style of advertising, unless run frequently (at a significant cost), often will not have an impact to the sales of the fashion business.

Deep pockets = lots of money wasted … ouch!

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!

Does Facebook Own Your Fashion Retail Business?

"I want to save money on marketing and just use Facebook instead" – was the incredulous reply to a conversion I had with a Fashion Retailer recently. The reason I was so amazed at the response from this retail store owner was not the fact that he was using Facebook to market his business – actually I recommend fashion retailers to ADD Facebook to their marketing mix; but that the store owner wanted to rely on Facebook marketing exclusively!

Fashion marketing using Facebook

Facebook and Facebook fans are a great way to market your fashion business – but it’s not your customer database!

Facebook is a third-party company. The list of people (fans) are CONNECTIONS developed within the Facebook environment.

However, a Facebook account is not a retail store customer database. You don’t own a Facebook list – the Facebook company does.

When you want to communicate to a certain segment of your customers or find out how much they spent – Facebook can’t help you. You need to have your own customer database linked to sales history. That way you can be much more effective with your fashion marketing and achieve MORE SALES.

And as I’ve mentioned before, a customer database and the relationship with those customers is one of the most important assets in a business. It adds a substantial amount to your business goodwill.

SUMMARY : Add Facebook to your marketing mix, but it isn’t a replacement for a good customer list. Facebook is a complementary medium, use it to further promote your fashion store.

By the way, if you don’t have access to a good customer marketing system – Click here to test drive our Lifetime Customer Program (included in the Fashion Retail Insiders membership).

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!

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!

Will A Web Site Make You More Money For Your Fashion Business?

I’m sure every fashion retailer would be in favour of having a web site for their business – but not every retailer actually has one. Why is that?

Fashion Advertising on the internet

As always, I believe the question comes down to cost and return-on-investment (ROI). Websites aren’t cheap. There is a cost to designing an unique site and the hours of graphic and web programming involved.

In order to figure out the return-on-investment for a fashion retailer, let’s look at the some of the benefits of having a good website :

  • 24 / 7 convenience : A customer or a potential new customer can browse your website to look at the latest styles and fashions you have available.
  • Customer assistance : A customer or a potential new customer can look up your contact or location details. They could view the outside of your store, it’s location on a Google map, or find what your opening hours are.
  • Mailing list : A customer or a potential new customer can sign up for your fashion eNewsletter which is a great strategy for increasing sales.
  • Web search : A potential new customer who has never heard about your retail store before comes across your website after a search for a particular brand.
  • Recommendation :A friend of a potential new customer recommends your store and that person visits your web site to find out more.
  • Branding : If you are seeking to build your brand, a good web site will assist in the brand-awareness process.
  • Publicity : Someone browsing the internet, comes across some news or information about your store on another site and then visits your website.
  • Credibility : A good retail web site lends credibility to the business.
  • Online Advertising option : A web site is a requirement for online fashion advertising. Online advertising is an effective way to bring more customers to your business.
  • Online sales : Generate sales 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. People visit your site and make a purchase. Generally speaking, online sales are better suited to fashion items like jewellery, footwear and accessories. But, clothing can be sold too.

I’m sure you’re now impressed with some of the major benefits of having a fashion store web site, but in order to maximise those benefits the web site needs to be designed in a certain way. Keep an eye out for my next post…

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!

Should You Let Your Accountant Run Your Fashion Store?

I usually have several conversations a day with fashion retailers… existing clients and people enquiring about our marketing services. One such conversation with a prospect business (not a client) last week (early March 2010) was with an owner of a small fashion store who also managed an accounting firm with his wife. One of first things he said (I won’t mention his real name – but let’s call him Peter) … was "The store isn’t doing well". Peter’s comments weren’t anything new… I’ve been hearing about slow retail sales from mid-January this year (2010).

Fashion Store Accountant

 

When Peter said "The store isn’t doing well", to be honest, I was a little annoyed. Peter and his wife had contacted me in January I had given them one particular strategy to increase sales. Guess what? That’s right, Peter didn’t implement it at all. Two months later he calls to tell me how lousy sales are.

Now this particular strategy had zero cost – yep … zero cost!

Peter’s reason for not implementing the strategy was…. drum roll … "…we were too busy...". Yes, too busy losing money.

Don’t get me wrong, I have good friends who are accountants, but an accountant’s mindset about running a business … is 1) Financial management, and 2) Cost cutting.

Accountants don’t know much about marketing and sales – they foolishly see it as an expense rather than an investment. That’s why big businesses have an accounting department separate to the marketing and sales department. You and I, as entrepreneurs, value accountants for 1) Minimising tax, 2) Preparing accounting statements and keeping the ATO happy, 3) Giving advice about gearing and balance sheets – that’s it – don’t ask an accountant if you should spend more money on marketing!

If you, or anyone else in fashion retailing, is hurting (financially) make fashion marketing and sales your top priority.

About the author. I’m Mark Fregnan, founder of Kinetic Media & Marketing, an Australian consulting business that focuses entirely making our clients MORE PROFIT WITH LESS EFFORT. We understand the financial and time pressures felt by small business owners especially in a competitive marketplace. We rely on our proven marketing and business strategies along with smart systems to produce and maintain a healthy increase in sales and profit for our business clients.

Fashion Merchandising Tips To Increase Sales

Fashion merchandising

Visual merchandising is the activity of promoting the sale of goods by their presentation. Here are some of benefits:

  • Improve your store brand
  • Increase store traffic
  • Increase sales

Where and how fashion clothing, accessories, jewellery and footwear are displayed can make a big impact in a number of ways, including:

  • Style. Establishing visual elements that are consistent with the store brand. For example, signage colour and sizes, lighting, and even the shelf racks say something about the store.
  • Entrance displays. Effective displays will increase store traffic as people walking by will be ‘drawn’ in.
  • Presentation. Sales will increase if the fashion merchandise presentation is appealing to customers.
  • Location. The front of the store, middle, back, side, etc; can make a massive difference to sales of particular items. That’s why most fashion stores change their layout frequently.

But, don’t forget to monitor the effects on sales after changes to the visual presentation. Otherwise the process becomes subjective, rather than scientific. The visual merchandising main aim is to increase store traffic and sales, not to create extra work for your staff in your fashion retail store.

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!

Image and Branding for a Fashion Business

Image and Branding is a strong motivator for fashion retailers but what do these concepts actually mean?

Simply, ‘Image’ is the perception (picture) that consumers have about a particular business at any one point in time. Whereby, ‘Brand’ is the relationship between the business and the consumer’s values. For example, when a consumer looks to purchase a running shoe they may think of Nike because of it’s alignment with winning and achieving.

fashion business marketing brand

Image and branding has everything to do with identifying your target market, identifying the values that are important to your target market and then creating an image and a brand that relates to those values.

Trying to cover all demographics and values is not recommended because it would be very difficult to achieve effective branding economically. The consumer will be disappointed with the product and the business.

For example, promoting luxury airline tickets whilst actually hearding travellers into small seats and delivering poor customer service will upset those consumers and word will get out and damage the ‘Brand’. Conversely, entering the marketplace promoting high levels of service at a cheap price, will hurt margins for the business and will unsustainable in the long-term.

Typically a brand will consist of an unique mix of values for a fashion business, such as :

  • Consumer benefits,
  • Style,
  • Durability (clothes, shoes and jewellry)
  • Quality,
  • Price,
  • Consumer age target (e.g. children, young adults, mature adults, Generation X, etc),
  • Image projection (conservative, hip-hop, professional business, modern, sportswear, etc),
  • Culture,
  • and so on.

Branding can also be broken down into ‘external’ and ‘internal’. External branding is prodominately used to create new customers for the business via mass advertising, such as print, internet, radio and television.

Internal branding is reminding existing customers that you value their business of which the aim is to increase repeat sales from those customers. Internal branding will typically use such media as email, SMS, direct mail and the telephone.

Creating an image and a brand for fashion retailers is not about flashy and slick advertisements. It’s about getting your key customers (target market) to recognise your business as their prefered choice for the products you provide.

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!

27 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying A Fashion Retail Business

I met the husband and wife owners of a small retail shop recently. The business was running at a $65,000 (approx) annual loss. They had purchased the business over 12 months ago and had been steadily losing money. I looked briefly at their books and realised they had paid too much for the business. On top of that, both of them had no retail business experience and they had decided to cut out all of the advertising that the previous business owner had been running – due to cost reasons only.

I asked them how much research and due diligence had they conducted before buying the business. I was shocked by their response…

Don't sign to purchase a fashion retail store without doing your homework

"We asked the solicitor who was performing the business settlement service if the business was a good buy."

In otherwords, they asked after the sale… Talk about throwing money away. Needless to say, they no longer have any available capital to invest in marketing or anything else. The outcome will be to close up shop and accept the loss, and the lesson.

 

This is real important…

I’ve spoken to and met with many business owners who have paid too much for their business (and not just fashion retailers – all types of businesses). It’s like paying $100,000 extra for a house. The problem is that usually the extra capital has been borrowed which puts a strain on the business cashflow. Often it’s very difficult to recover from this situation.

To gain $100,000 in net profit in a fashion retail store may require at least an additional $800,000 in sales revenue (i.e. on a 12.5% net profit margin).

$800k in ‘additional’ (over and above existing) sales revenue which isn’t a very easy thing to achieve in a short-time frame, i.e. 12 months.

So how do you actually avoid this type of business disaster?

Do your homework – Ask yourself these questions…

1. What do I want from being in business?

  • Freedom to do ‘my’ thing?
  • Be an entrepreneur?
  • To make more money than being an employee?
  • Work fewer than 30 hours a week?

2. Why am I going into a fashion retail business?

  • For lifestyle (to work fewer than 40 hours per week, with the freedom to go on holidays whenever you choose)
  • To make a profit by building the business up (increasing sales) and then selling it.
  • To generate more cash-flow than than a 9-to-5 job.

If your reasons are not listed above (lifestyle or profit) – don’t buy the business. If you want to be involved in retailing out of interest and passion for fashion – honestly it’s much safer to be an employee.

3. What will be my exit strategy to get out of the business?

  • Sell the business for a profit
  • Sell the business to a major shareholder(s) and become a silent partner
  • Pass the business down to a family member
  • Franchise

4. What skills do I have that will make me successful in this business?

Please don’t think that all that is required to ‘improve’ the business is cosmetic – by changing fashion labels or re-designing the store interior. Unless the store has poor stock and an ugly showroom – these ‘improvements’ won’t double sales.

Only very good marketing, a good sales team and good systems will increase sales significantly. Sorry, I’ve seen many business owners take over an existing fashion retail store – changing labels and interior perhaps at best has increased sales by 30% initially and then nothing after that.

5. What skills will I have to “hire in”?

  • Sales staff/assistants
  • Bookkeeper
  • Fashion buyer/consultant
  • Sales trainer
  • Outsource marketing?

6. What monthly cash-flow do I need?

  • To pay myself a decent wage
  • To cover all the retail business expenses
  • To cover the repayments if I borrow to purchase the business
  • Additional business profit

7. How much working capital do I have access to?

Can I get an overdraft to cover seasonal buying?

8. Will this business suit me i.e. hours, type of operation?

To ask the vendor who is selling the business…

9. How long has the business been operating?

10. How long has the current owner had the business?

11. Why is the current owner selling?

  • Worn out from working long hours for little money?
  • Couldn’t make the business work (perhaps in it’s current location)?
  • Actual legitimate reasons such as retiring, moving to another state or country, or looking for another challenge in another business?

If it’s retiring – also be aware that may business owners in their 50/60s hang on to a unprofitable business (maybe paying themselves a very basic wage) because it was too difficult for them to have sold earlier and got a job.

12. What is the Cash flow and Profit (Gross and Net) for the business?

13. What is the business owner paying him/herself?

14. What do the last 3 years of financial accounts show?

15. How has the business been valued?

16. Who are the key customers, suppliers, staff?

17. What are the terms and length of any leases?

18. Will the current owner stay on and assist for a period of time?

Ask them to put this period in WRITING!

19. What areas of the fashion retail business are systemised?

For example:

  • Point-of-sale (POS)
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing / customer marketing systems
  • Website / social media (e.g. Facebook)
  • E-commerce website

20. Is there a business plan?

21. How many hours a week does the current owner work in the business?

22. When was the last time the current owner took a holiday?

23. What is the marketing systems like? Do they make money for the business?

Review all advertising material, the customer database, the POS systems, any loyalty programs, special promotional material, etc.

24. What facts support the "story" of the business?

25. How secure is future income i.e. contracts with customers and suppliers?

26. How dependent is the business on the current owner?

27. What will it take to grow the business so I can sell it for a profit?

Fashion stock

Often this is the BIG ONE – many fashion retailers overcapitalise in stock in relation to the store sales annual turnover. Ask your accountant is there is too much capital tied up in stock on the balance sheet. If there is – don’t buy the business!!! Tell the vendor. You can either wait until they sell down the surplus stock at regular prices, or they can offload it at cost. Don’t let their past buying decisions become your problem!

Before you make an offer

1. Get your accountant to check the financial accounts

Obtain actual lodged tax returns with the government, not the business owner’s printout or handwritten bookkeeping summary.

Your accountant will ensure that the business has cashflow and is not over-capalised.

2. Hire a solicitor who is experienced in buying fashion retail businesses like the one you are looking at.

Your solicitor will ensure that the contracts with suppliers, the landlord, etc don’t have any surprises.

3. If you are spending over $250,000 on the business, or even if you want to be extra careful, pay for a business valuation.

Pay a licenced valuer to come in and audit the business. Even if you have to spend $7,000 for the valuation, it’s still much better than paying $50,000, $100,000 or more than you should have to buy the business.

You may even be able to ‘use’ the valuation to negotiate a better price.

The lesson

Homework always pays off in business. Sure, there is a lot of questions (above) – but, like with real-estate, the profit often is made when you buy the business, not when you sell. Taking shortcuts and buying a business on emotion often lead to regrets. Don’t let this happen to you.