Winter, particularly the holidays, is considered one of the most trying time periods for most e-commerce boutiques, and definitely for designers as well, as this is a strong period for validating their wholesale accounts and their sale-ability with the peak commercial audience. All their efforts in developing new collections, promoting those collections, building and anticipating; all come to a abrupt climax early in the winter. However, after December and leading up to early Spring, most of fashion shifts from the chic and desirable to the functional, as consumers look for clothing and accessories to combat the colder weather or in warmer climates, save up for more popular summer wear, swimsuits or luxury pieces that break early in the Spring. Thus the inspirational or desirable items, likely gifted in the earlier part of winter lose their appeal to the wider market.
That doesn’t mean, however that brands have to write-off or even completely mark-down a huge amount of their winter assortment. However, any brand has to be ready for the truth that consumers fashion tastes fluctuate with the weather ( so unseasonably cold summers have as much impact as unnaturally warm winters ). This means that there will be some measure of discounting to combat the arrival of a new season. If like most brands, you are developing a strategy for dealing with the winter collection three to six weeks into Spring, here are four effective ways to spring clean your brand.
Collaborative Blogger Promotion
Depending on your product, collaborating with specific bloggers or a specific blogger to help offload your winter wares is a good idea. But for this sort of collaboration, it may be necessary to look at another region or area, particularly if your brand has products for a colder region, such as outerwear. While it breaks 90 degree regularly in NYC during the summer and place like Miami in mid-Spring, Moscow doesn’t really go quite as high with average temperatures around 75 and much cooler in the nights. Or if you flip hemispheres and look at Cape Town, temperatures tend to be their lowest during the summer months of June to early September. It does depend on the blogger as while some will be interested in last season’s products, others will only want to show the latest / most current goods.
To approach a blogger with such a collaboration however requires a brand that really resonates well with the blogger’s audience. Most likely they will function as an affiliate / brand ambassador, so they would need to be paid for this campaign as well as receive decent commission on whatever is being sold. But the value of reaching a larger audience, building a relationship with like-minded bloggers and getting more stale inventory moved will likely outweigh any costs associated with the brand ( and likely turn a profit ). There is a great value to collaborating with a blogger to increase sales, as often, they will trade perks, such as being mentioned by the brand ( on social channels ) or receiving free product in exchange for larger upfront costs.
Finding bloggers to collaborate with is getting easier thanks to prevalence and openness of popular social platforms such as Instagram, Lookbook.nu, Chictopia and others.
Collaborative Pop-Ups / Sales
Image Source: YClad Magazine
An off-season popup shop? As crazy as that sounds, think of the nature of popup markets and street fairs, which often sell goods that have no real season. A collaborative pop-up shop has several distinct benefits, the most noticeable of which is reduced costs and increased promotional ability. This allows brands to open in a location with greater foot traffic and a more commercial focus, as well as collectively promote in ways that one couldn’t. Of course, the brands would have to be related, but probably not identical for consumer preference, so a footwear company selling high-end boots and an outerwear brand would make a good collaboration. Additionally, cross-promoting the wares online can lead to a lucrative sales arrangement and attract new consumers who likely would be interested in the other company as well.
Giveaways and Promotions
While probably the least favored of methods, a giveaway, possibly in conjunction with a few bloggers is a great way to drive traffic back to a clearance section for off-season goods or at least raise some awareness of the brand. If bloggers are helping to do the giveaway, they will likely need items to giveaway and then items they keep as well. However, if you are doing a giveaway through social channels, the strategy might be a little different. Either way, the goal should always be to raise as much awareness through social sharing and distribution, which inevitably helps to bring in new customers for sales long term.
For example, the image above is from a giveaway by Claudia Meller in collaboration with fashion blogger Katherine Summers of Not Dressed As Lamb and the level of engagement is higher than that of the traditional posts. Most bloggers are receptive to giveaways as they drive a lot of traffic to the hosting bloggers as well.
Promotions, unlike giveaways, depend more on the size of your own audience, although your own audience can be evangelized to help extend promotions for a fringe benefit. These include Refer a Friend or Get a Percentage Off for Referrals. Promotions can be pushed out via social media and of course, the ever reliable mailing list as well as banners on your site. It would be best to create a strong digital experience / landing page to capture all the traffic and measure the effectiveness of these promotions. If budget allows, there is an opportunity to collaborate with bloggers by sponsoring / advertising on their blog and purchasing ad space or even advertising via PPC and / or Display, which could lead to new customers as well.
Also, don’t underestimate the potential of using promotions to drive traffic to certain places on the brand’s website. Targeted promotions can help drive sales in higher volume. In the case of winter wear, bundling these items to increase the savings is a very effective promotional strategy, while also reducing the amount of mark=down necessary to move the product.
Image Source: Kitties and Couture
Exactly as it sounds, multi-channel commerce means selling through multiple channels. The advantage of multi-channel commerce is usually this means retailing on third party marketplaces that have exponentially greater traffic, such as eBay or Amazon or fashion related resellers like Poshmark, Tradesy and Threadflip. The biggest disadvantage of course comes from the inability to determine market price and possibility the need to use featured promotions to drive sales. While it is possible to turn a profit through a multi-channel focus, for off season goods, the best strategy is to ensure that promotional budget, associated fees and pricing strategy at least allow for an even break on initial spend of the collection. This helps to build brand credibility and may even help to drive some consumers to the brand for greater sales of in season product.
Featured Image: My City Web