From skirts made out of banana leaves and animal hide sewn together to digital fashion trends that are redefining what we wear, fashion truly has come a long way. And one of the most recent trends is a splurge in online boutiques selling everything from gowns to girdles. However, most entrepreneurs think that merely ‘opening’ an online boutique will make them rich overnight. As a result, they are always on the lookout for easy ways to open an online shop and source their products. Unfortunately for them, running an online store is no less different than running a brick and mortar retail outlet as far as sourcing products is concerned. If you don’t make the right choices, you’re screwed big time – probably worse.
Here are some to avoid messing up in case you’ve got an online boutique of your own or are considering to open one.
Be wary of pretend suppliers
If you’re not familiar with this term, the name sums it up pretty well. Pretend suppliers are fraudulent companies that pretend to be manufacturers and/or wholesalers of fashion products. The reality however is that these companies trick startups and existing boutiques that are a bit too eager to make quick money by offering them seemingly attractive deals that cut into their margins. In some cases the fraudulent pretend supplier also sells products to the businesses more expensively than other businesses operating within the same category. All of this would obviously be avoidable if entrepreneurs looking to grow rapidly actually did their homework on sourcing products instead of falling prey to such frauds in an attempt to make quick bucks.
Build trustworthy relations
As important as it is to stay clear of fraudulent suppliers, it’s also important to build strong, healthy, and dependable business relations. Your supplier should ideally be a trusted business partner and not another businessman trying to make more money off you.
Among a handful of key steps to building trustworthy business relations with suppliers and wholesalers is to have your business registered as soon as possible. Yea sure, paying taxes can be a bit overwhelming for startups, but the long term benefits outweigh the short term difficulties. Getting registered allows you to be able to contact reputable distributors and suppliers who work only with registered companies. Likewise any distributor and/or supplier willing to sell you wholesale merchandise without actually verifying whether you’re a registered company or not is most likely not reputable themselves and unfit to work with, let alone build a trustworthy business relationship.
Consider the pros and cons of buying in bulk
The fashions industry is highly volatile as trends come and go as the seasons come and go. High-waisted shorts may be a hot summer favorite, but they won’t sell in winters. The same goes for jackets; cool in winters but not in the summers. And this is where sourcing fashion products gets even trickier. Not only are you going to have to keep a track of current and upcoming fashion trends, but you’re also going to have to be able to forecast demand based on historical data. While an existing boutique might be able to benefit from an already consumer base and promotional sales, for a startup, this is a huge gamble – one that has to be taken. Seasonal risks however can be mitigated or overlooked if you’re operating in a category that is less subject to seasonal changes in fashion such as fitness fashion like waist-training corsets – people normally go to the gym throughout the year for such items to ever be out of style.
However, the tricky-ness doesn’t come to a halt with a change in the direction of the winds; wholesalers too have a say after all. A number of registered and reputed manufacturers and wholesalers only sell goods in wholesale lots; they won’t open boxes just to sell you a few pieces. In other words, you either take the box or you don’t! For a wholesaler, this makes a lot of sense. Selling a complete box takes less effort and earns the wholesaler more money as opposed to opening it up and selling just a handful. Needless to say, the wholesaler is obviously going to maximize his own revenue. However, another way of looking at a wholesaler’s decision to sell you in wholesale lots only can be an attempt to protect the business’s interests by making merchandise exclusive to that business. And there’s good reason to do that; why would anyone buy from an online boutique if they can buy directly from the wholesaler? So buying in bulk does work as a symbiotic relation.
Visit trade shows
Textile and fashion trade shows are another great way to find and interact with a multitude of manufacturers, wholesalers, distributers, and suppliers. These shows are generally the best place to find a number of registered businesses that you could work with. In fact, trade shows also serve as a great place for you to showcase your own brand and market yourself to new customers as well as interact with potential business partners.