The Top 9 Things to do Before Sourcing Stockists

So you’re ready to take your fashion label to the next level and gain distribution through the right stockists. That’s amazing, congratulations!

You’ve also decided not to work through a sales agent and give it a go on your own.  The good news is that no one knows your business better than you do. No one believes in your label and loves your style more than you.  The bad news it takes more than an abundance of enthusiasm to successfully transition from retailer to wholesaler.

We here at, A Fitting Connection, a Melbourne company dedicated to launching fashion labels, suggests that you do these top 9 things before sourcing stockists.

1. Get the timing right.

Prior to sourcing stockists,  make sure your business is scalable.  As a guide, we suggest that you have had a minimum of 12 months, successfully selling directly to the consumer before approaching any stockists. Having the confidence in your label’s ability to deliver in full, on time, every time will be crucial.  Ask yourself, are all the right systems in place. Can your current systems/manufacturer handle larger orders and still deliver the same quality garments on time?

2. Get your head in the game (and take your heart out of it).  

It is important to remember that not every stockist will get behind you.  Not every response will be a yes. Your ego may take a beating so be prepared for rejection and understand, from the beginning, that it is a numbers game.  Every no is just a step closer to a yes.

3. Work hard but more importantly work smart.  

Do your research before making contact with stockists.  Make sure you understand who your customer is and where they shop. Visit as many of  your chosen stockists and make sure their store is the right match for your “look and ethos”.  Read their reviews online too.

4. Show them the money!  

Calculate your wholesale prices and conduct some market research on your prices before sourcing stockists.  Every stockist you approach will want your very best prices. Be ready to haggle a little bit. Most retailers expect to be able to apply a 100% markup.  Also, decide whether you want to impose any ordering conditions, such as minimum order quantities or minimum order value.

5. Know your competitors.

Know who they sell to and what they offer their stockists. But most importantly ensure you understand your own unique selling advantage.  This will help you overcome any objections the stockists may have. Ask yourself, are your garments more affordable; more sustainable; more durable; made locally; better quality, do you offer better service; a satisfaction guarantee or have a better online presence and customer base?

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6. Be prepared to ask the important questions.  

Yes this may be your opportunity to gain new stockists but remember it is also a chance to do some very valuable market research.  Questions you may want to ask your stockists are: if they prefer using agents or buying directly? How often do they place re-orders? Do they prefer purchasing indent or from stock? What will their mark up be? etc etc.  

7. Presentation is key!

Retailers in the fashion industry are very visual and like most people, when you approach them, they will be assessing you on your speil, your appearance, your samples, your marketing materials and even your website.  Make sure you and your brand are 100% ready to wow your potential stockists. Putting your best foot forward will allow you to walk into any stockist with your head held high.

8.  Be ready to pivot.  

Having the ability to pivot your business at any time is an essential to success.  Make time to regularly assess your progress and if it’s not working, pivot. Don’t keep doing the same thing if it isn’t working.  And remember there are other options you can try. You might want to consider working with a sales agent, a marketer or sales rep to break into the wholesale market,  it may be the best thing you ever did.

9.  Get help when you need it.  

For more advice you can visit A Fitting Connection at www.afittingconnection.com.au  We consider ourselves  a “one stop shop” for aspiring and established fashion labels.  We offer services such as:

  • Fashion design,

  • Pattern making,

  • Sample manufacture,

  • Garment construction,  

  • Fashion photography,

  • Graphic design,

  • Digital solutions and marketing,

  • And specialise in social media management for fashion labels.

Good Luck

Katrina & Team x