3 simple steps for awesome retail partner relationship
If there is one secret to growth, it is partnerships. No matter how awesome you think you are or our product/service is, you CANNOT go it alone! Whether they are , employees, suppliers, shippers, wholesales, retailers, or customers — you need to have a solid partnerships in place to grow.
We are blessed to have a solid retail partnership- both online and offline, to get our foldable ballet flats in the hands (and feet) for our customers. But it was not always this way. Fit In Clouds is fashion brand selling fold up flats. We started by online selling at our online storefront, but then slowly grew our retail distribution channels. Here are three lessons we learnt along the way:
1) Avoid channel conflict
Any seasoned brand expert will tell you that channel conflict is a major source of headaches. This happens when you have retailers selling the exact same product at different prices — and you come in and undercut them (and piss them off in the process) all because you can . The retailers have worked hard to get in front of the customer. You want to make sure as a brand, you do no under-cut them on prices. As a brand, it is your duty to level the playing field, so that the retailer has the incentive to invest in your brand. If your retailer has worked hard to acquire a customer, do not try to steal the customer for a few extra bucks.
2) Position your product correctly
As a brand, you may or may not have full control over how the retailer positions your product in front of the customer. Are they using the correct description? Are they using valid brand images? Does the signage speak to your brand? etc etc. Again, as a brand, it is your duty to provide as much information and support to the retailer partner to make sure your brand is represented in the way you want it. Seeing your product in person might be the most powerful influence you have on the customer. The last think you want is a retailer defining who are are to the customers which is a complete opposite of what you have been working so hard to do.
3) Know thy partners
This may sound basic, but its actually super important. By “know” we mean understand their strategy, what are they aspiring to become, attend their conferences, meet them at trade shows, learn about the management etc. It goes way way beyond having the buyers email address for communication. Communicate with them — tell them about new styles you will launching, about photo shoots you will be doing, about promotion campaigns you can jointly execute. There are all crucial in making you sure and your retail partners are in lockstep.
While a retailer might lower your margins, it raises your product awareness to a set of customers that you do not have access to. We feel having the right retail partnerships in place have helped keep the momentum.