There are new lingerie brands launching all the time, and adding a new one to your boutique can be exciting – but also daunting.
You can never quite be sure it’s going to sell well until you’ve tried it, but you can minimise the financial risk by asking yourself these 7 important questions before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Are you adding something new to your product line?
If you have a particular type of bra that’s selling well – black t-shirt bras for example – it can seem like good business sense to order more of the same. But there are only so many plain black bras a person needs in their lingerie drawer!
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever stock similar products, but do aim to add something new with every brand you bring on board. For example, a wider size range that will let you cater to new customers. Or better-quality fabrics that will allow you to upsell those with a little more cash to spend.
2. Is the pricing in line with your current offering?
As I’ve just mentioned, having a bit of pricing variety allows you to attract people with a range of budgets and therefore increase your customer base. That said, there needs to be some consistency. Selling £20 bras alongside £200 ones just looks disjointed. You won’t be offering that luxury boutique experience that high-spending customers are after, and customers at the lower end may see one high price tag and walk out assuming everything in store is well above their budget.
3. Who else is stocking the brand?
Sometimes taking a chance on a newly-launched brand can reap dividends, but if it’s a lingerie brand that has been around for a while, it pays to check out who else is carrying them. If they have lots of stockists, that’s a good sign that their products sell well! (Though if the brand seems to be on the sale rail everywhere you look, it could well be the opposite).
However, I have spoken to a lingerie boutique owner who had a rule that she’d never stock a brand sold in a department store. Her reason? If customers can easily find the same bra elsewhere for less (and department stores are known for their heavy discounting), then they probably will. Aim to stock lingerie brands that are popular, yet hard to get hold of in your local area.
4. Does the brand have good reviews?
Another good way to predict if a lingerie brand will be a hit with your customers is to check what people are saying online. Read blog reviews and comments that people have left on the brand’s online stockists’ websites, to get a feel for whether most people have been happy with their purchase.
5. What are the wholesale terms?
Look carefully at the terms such as Minimum Order Quantities and delivery times. If a product starts flying off the shelves, you stand to make more money if you can replenish stock quickly. And being able to order in just the sold-out sizes without committing to another large, high-value order is a definite plus.
Look for any exclusivity clauses too, i.e. terms that prevent you from stocking another lingerie brand whilst you’re selling this one. If you are forced to choose between two or more brands, make sure you’ve done your research and this really is the best one of the lot for your boutique!
6. Are there any added extras?
Even if they’re not mentioned in the contract, it doesn’t hurt to ask if the brand is able to supply you with any promotional materials such as posters. These can help when it comes to creating a gorgeous window display that’s going to entice people to step inside.
Little things like branded boxes or bags too can add to the shopping experience for your customers. The better the impression you leave in your customers’ minds as they walk out the door, the more likely they are to come back.
7. What is the customer service like?
Whether you’re speaking to the brand directly or dealing with your local area’s rep, take note of things like whether they’re quick to respond to emails. If they’re difficult to get hold of, that doesn’t bode well for those times when you’ll need to place an urgent order.
Even things like whether the person you’ve been talking to seems friendly can make a real difference. Retailing can be stressful enough without having to deal with rude or indifferent suppliers, so if you’re not impressed, take your money elsewhere – there are plenty more lingerie brands out there who offer both excellent products and excellent customer service!
Be sure to communicate with your customers too. Have feedback cards available, ask them about their favourite brands during bra fittings, post the question to social media… Your success as a lingerie boutique depends on whether you are giving them what they want to buy after all!
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Are there any other questions that you ask yourself before taking on a new lingerie brand? Or one of the above that you wish you’d thought about in the past?