Fashion merchandise buyers work on behalf of retail clothing stores to purchase the fashion products featured in stores. While typical buyers interface directly with wholesalers and clothing manufacturers, the increase in private label fashion and influencer marketing has shown that there is opportunity for independent fashion designers to turn fashion merchandise buyers into a customer niche.
The best way to do this, is to meet fashion buyers on their own ground, and resolve their pain points for them.
What Are the Most Common Fashion Buyer Pain Points?
Fashion buyers make their living by keeping the retail stores that employ them competitive. It’s an aggressive business, and moves (if possible) even quicker than the pace of fashion itself. As a result, some of their most common pain points are:
- There’s typically a long gap between the time it takes for buyers to place their order and the time it takes to get designer products in-store.
You can address this by setting some guarantees on your end. Typical production time for a Made in Italy product is 6 weeks. That means if you go to market or to a buyer with a completed product sample that’s already been graded, you can turn around a Made in Italy production order in less than 60 days, eliminating guesswork on when the order will arrive at their store, and making it easy to predict the timeline of any reorders.
- Buyers need to know how your clothing will sell in their store based on market factors that they don’t always know.
Retail customer preference, company marketing goals, supplier availability, and more all matter to every purchase a fashion buyer makes. Make their job easier by doing your homework on the stores they represent before meeting with them to pitch your products. If you’re going to market and encountering several buyers at once, have a few meetings set up in advance or target a few buyers in your product category specifically with a marketing effort that’s smart, direct, and creative (no awkward, out-of-the-blue phone calls!).
- Buyers want products that will give their store an exclusive edge.
If a buyer purchases your product, it’s wise to offer them some sort of exclusivity guarantee that your brand will not turn around and sell the same products you’ve sold them directly to customers, at a lower cost. Fashion designers hate when clothing wholesalers do this to them, and fashion buyers feel the same way.
- Customers prefer brands with proven reputations, and buyers are the same.
If you’re already marketing your brand and creating a great reputation for your products, that’s something retailers want to piggyback off of. Fashion buyers have no shortage of product lines options to fill their stores. To stand out in the right way, have a set brand identity, and customers who have already proven that it and your products will turn a profit. Plus, there’s bonus points for designers who can offer retail partners cross-marketing options and appeal.
- Fashion buyers deal in the uncertain business of forecasting trends.
Predicting the future is hard. Fashion buyers know because it’s their business. When pitching your products to buyers, make sure you’ve done your trend research. Go to trade shows to stay current. Know what’s trending in materials, products, and fashion marketing. If possible, show sales data from your brand that demonstrates your ability to get in front of, react quickly to, or pioneer completely novel trends that play well to customers.
Buyers are decisive, so if you present your products to them in the right way, it’s likely that the transaction will be quick, efficient, and if delivery matches up with the sale, result in repeat business. Do your homework, be professional, and always remember that fashion buyers are your customers and need to be treated with the same care and courtesy as any B2C customer who might reach your checkout.