We love spying our Springboard Retail customers in the news! Here's a great interview with Bridget Stickline of children's boutique Wee Chic in Lutherville, Maryland on choosing your niche, sourcing and buying, and how experience and connection are the future of brick-and-mortar retail.
This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of Earnshaw's.
1. Gain Experience
If you want to be a buyer and you don't have retail experience, get some! Go work in children's stores. Be on the front lines and get a strong handle on what drives decision-making for the client. Effective merchandising, a balanced mix and a trained sales team are all essential for a successful retail concept. A great buyer understands how each of those factors should impact buying choices from learning the ropes firsthand.
2. Carve a Niche
One of the true pleasures of owning your own retail concept is that you can choose who you do business with based on your standards. Those standards are the guiding tenets of your assortment. For instance, merchandising and design direction are what attracts me to a brand. Quality is non-negotiable because that has real-time impact on consumer confidence. Lastly, I appreciate brands that have a good handle on their supply chain and are responsible in their manufacturing.
3. Expand Your Horizons
Sourcing new product is a full-time job. To truly be effective in creating a dynamic mix, use a combination of several avenues--trade shows, social media, press, word of mouth, etc. It's also about travel and exploration. When I shop in other markets, I always find new and interesting things.
4. Determine the Deal Breakers
Poorly built lines that have one or two great pieces but no collection drive me crazy. Bad quality fabrics are another deal breaker for me. Kids are tactile creatures. Hand feel should be a religion in our industry. We touch everything before we put pen to paper. It's another standard that our clients have come to expect.
5. Virtual Reality Check
I've been a buyer for over 20 years so there's been a lot of evolution in the process. Road reps have given way to Nuorder and Faire. While I appreciate the convenience of writing orders on those platforms, I'm highly discouraged by the continued reduction in trade show schedules. In the same way there's a consumer that doesn't want to shop online, I'm not interested in a marketplace that is wholly virtual. Experience and connection is the way forward for brick-and-mortar retail, and wholesale needs those elements as well. That said, I'm thrilled by cloud-based POS systems with robust reporting capabilities. As an analyst, I love being able to see my business at any hour, from anywhere with an internet connection. We're newly running Springboard, and I would highly recommend it.
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Topics: Our Customers