Don’t Cut Ties with Wholesalers – Strengthen Them
Author: Jasmine Waters
Alas, the dreaded second lockdown is now looming over us. Many brands have openly discussed their plans for how to brace the coming weeks, but lots of media advice seems extremely conflicting. Much of the emphasis of the discussion is centered around the role that wholesalers play in a brand’s pandemic journey. Our consultancy knows just how important agents are in the current climate, acting as the unsung heroes that are keeping the industry turning. Instead, here’s how brands can strengthen their relationships with their wholesale connections.
What’s likely to happen with wholesale?
Struggles with wholesalers have been seen at varying lengths across the globe, with the US leading the deep-cutting discounts and difficulty meeting financial and logistical demands. Described by many as a ‘retail reckoning’, buying quantities have understandably been lower this season, but the cancelling of orders still remains a frequent occurrence. To avoid a worst-case scenario where a fitting compromise can’t be reached between two parties, it’s crucial to know what you want. Now that there is an opportunity for small and independent brands to make a name for themselves in multi-brand retail, be clear about what kind of treatment you believe a product deserves. Negotiating better terms to begin with will help to avoid any painful or unnecessary bumps further down the line, especially if your aims are worldwide. Many global retailers don’t actually pay any kind of deposit for their goods, so being prepared to ask for a small percentage in down payment where possible may help to establish security and trust on both ends.
How can cancellations be avoided?
The fact remains that it is harder to sell a product without third-party involvement. Despite this being debated, there are new ways a smaller brand can take leverage, by suggesting shorter trial period to see if a longer-term partnership would benefit those involved. We all share the same goal to have a maximum full-price sell through, and there are ways to stay connected to a consumer base regardless of your role in the relationship. Utilise data to back you up when negotiating terms and keep in touch with digital or physical check-ins. The more humanised the buying process is, the happier both parties will be. If something does go wrong, visit the store or pick up the phone to get to the root of the problem rather than emailing. We all want to avoid cancellations where possible, so getting as much detail about the root of the problem will help a solution to quickly form. Keeping the conversation going is the most important part of a wholesaler relationship under the pandemic, making sure to speak up if the other could be doing more. Offer support and promotion where possible, which could work hand-in-hand with the move to localised retail. This is a process that may take more time but is essential in keeping the needed cogs of a third-party partnership well oiled.
Image source: https://www.consciousclothing.net/wholesale