How to sell your Clothing Brand in Stores: a guide for starters
Today there are a lot of people thinking of starting their own clothing line. As the main sales tool they immediately turn to an online store. E-commerce is a very budget friendly way to start selling your clothing (if you have the right partner). But there is one very big part of retail that you can’t ignore: the brick and mortar store. The physical store is still the main place where people buy there clothes. As a starting or growing clothing brand, it is certainly a dream to see your apparel on the shelves of a brick and mortar store.
This is how you get your clothing in the stores
Everything starts with prospection. Prospection is the art of contacting potential stores (clients) in a structured way. Don’t panic! It isn’t as difficult as it looks. In this article we will explain step by step how you can build your store network. Next to that we’ll help you with a couple of insider tips and tricks.
An (clothing) offer they can’t refuse
You need an offer to successfully start prospecting. So you have to come up with an offer that stores can quickly accept without a downside for them. From our clients feedback, we’ve learned that stores are most open to a commission based system to start out with a new brand. This means that you can offer your clothing in their store and they only have to pay you when an item is sold (on which they then earn a commission). This way they can test the popularity of your brand without the risk. If you’re just starting out, try to go to 1 or 2 stores (you maybe even know personally) and suggest this way of working . A commission of 15%-20% on the sales price is acceptable.
A good preparation is essential to help you conquer your spot in your favourite stores. During the preparation you will decide who your main audience is and which stores match this audience. In shot you’ll have to find out who fits your brand.
example: Brand Kailuabeach
- Age 20-40
- Sporty tropical style
- Pricing range: average
With this information you can start looking for stores that match your brand.
Search online or just go for a walk in your town to find stores that match your target audience. These stores will be easier to convince, because you will have the same style and vision.
Example: Surfshops in Belgium
- LaHawaii in Antwerp
- Hono&lulu in Bruges
- King&Surf in Ostend
- Waveslook in Ghent
To help you manage your prospecting as efficiently as possible, you need to set up certain targets. This way you will keep yourself on the right course.
In this example our brand has this target: By the end of this year we want to offer our brand in 16 stores across 4 provinces.
Starting with Prospection
A good prospection list does wonders
Before you wildly start contacting stores, it’s better to build your prospecting list first. This list contains all the contact information from the potential stores . This way you have everything within reach when you start calling the clothing stores. Gather this information for the interesting shops: name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Additional information like the name of the manager or launch date are also useful.
You’ve got mail.
The first important step in the prospection flow is sending an e-mail. In this short e-mail you introduce your brand to the shop owner . The goal of this first e-mail is triggering the store owner to take a look at your website/social media. A couple of days after sending your e-mail, you can call the store. In most cases they will have read your e-mail. What if they didn’t? Then you kindly introduce yourself and your brand on the phone. Try to raise their interest, so you can set up a meeting with them.
Call me maybe?
Before you start dialling numbers, you have to prepare first. Make sure you know exactly what you want to tell the shop manager. Try to tease them just enough with information, but don’t exaggerate. The start of a phone conversation is like the first impression. Make sure you hold the attention of your prospect from the very first second. Sometimes you only have 20 seconds to convince someone.The best times to call clothing stores is Tuesday and Wednesday morning. These moments are not busy, and the shop manager will have more time to listen to your story.
TIP: The Lucifer
There’s a good trick to test the length of your pitch. Light a match and hold it between 2 fingers, and say your pitch. If you burn your fingers, before you’re done, you’re too slow. Practice makes perfect, but be careful.
Finally! You have a meeting with a store. Today you get your chance to show your clothing collection to the store owner. You only have one shot for a great first impression. You’ve already set the tone during the phone call. So make sure you continue on the great flow. Showing that you are prepared is a great method to show you dedication. But how do you specifically do this meeting?
Clothing Brand Owner /Fleur Sabbe- Topwijf.
Webshop/Popup store Ostend
Tip: Just do it.
I sent e-mails to a lot of stores, but without response. Often stores don’t read their mailboxes or your e-mail doesn’t get to the right person. I just visited a couple of stores to show them my collection. Belgium is of course a very small country. Most of the stores follow each other on social media. So when you convince 1 or 2 stores to display you in their stores, the others follow. Every store wants to innovate and offer new brands. Just go to the stores and show some guts.
How to show them your vision
A clothing store will offer clothing brand if they believe in your vision. This is the main focus point for your first meetings. Because a picture is worth a 1000 words.
Develop a lookbook to clarify your vision to the potential stores. Luckily there are a couple of low budget ways to create a lookbook:
If you have experience in graphic design you can make it yourself. Look for great pictures on Pinterest and combine the to build your vision. You can cut and paste it on a big piece of paper or use software to do it.
There are also a couple of (free) online tools to create a lookbook:
If you start to get a bit of traction, you can certainly emphasize your social media channels.
Show your own goods
If possible certainly bring your clothing samples to the store. The quality of your clothing will certainly improve your chances on a great outcome. This shows the shop manager again that you are prepared for the meeting. You can even let them try one of your clothing pieces just so they can wear your vision.
Confidence is one of the main factors that determine the outcome of your meeting . Don’t forget: you’re proud of your clothing label and support it for 100%. Make this clear to your prospects. Extra tip: you can always wear your lucky underpants to boost your confidence! Crazy but it works.
TIP: Toothpaste smile.
Enter the store with your biggest smile possible. Not only will you feel better, but your smile will influence the mood of the store owner. When you’re smiling the message you’re communicating is more positive. Certainly use this tip during phone calls, people can hear your smile.
Sometimes you will have a bad day. There will be people who say “no” to you, or even be rude. But don’t worry, this is never personal. Most of the times the store is just too busy, and your call just came at a very bad time. Also, not every store is looking for new brands. It sounds counterintuitive in this rapidly changing society, but a lot of stores only want to invest in trusted established brands . Don’t forget that you have something very unique to offer. And if you continue to work hard, there will be stores that want to try your brand.
Always support your brand for 100%. Because if you don’t, they certainly won’t. And don’t forget to reward yourself after every successful next step: your first call, your first meeting and every new store. Grab your favourite cocktail, eat a piece of pie and pat yourself on the back! Literally ! Because you deserve it! Don’t forget you already came a long way.
Looking for a solid European partner to build your clothing brand? We offer design, production and logistic services to brands, artists and events. Let us know!