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Customize, Regionalize, Personalize

With the advent of Social Media, and the rise of the Milliennials as a huge customer base, it has become increasingly important to retailers that products are customizable. Many boutiques offer services like alterations or monogramming to tailor clothing and accessories to each person’s fancy.

FTH

FTH Wholesale is a great example of a line that we carry that does their own customizing. FTH can create jewelry for any high school or college of a customer’s choosing.

 

Boelter Brands specializes in collegiate products. They were on top of Superbowl merchandise specially made for the champion team, and they carry a huge array of college sports merchandise for teams in the SEC, Big Ten, and beyond.

vivi

Vivi Designs does affordable acrylic ponchos that many retailers purchase and monogram in house for their customers. With a product that has an excellent price point to begin with, adding a monogram option is still within the price range of many people who want a unique piece of outerwear. Think outside the box and focus on customizable items this fall!

From the Desk of Rachel Retailer: Utilizing Your Rep

Hey everyone! It’s Rachel Retailer, here, with some tips on utilizing your sales reps.

There are six important focal areas that will guide you through using your Rep most efficiently: Order Management, Inventory Control, Merchandising, Training, Marketing, and Data. Over the next year, we will be doing an in-depth review of each one of these areas. We have already shared many Merchandising ideas, and would now like to turn your attention to Order Management.

First, take on the tasks that only you, as a store owner, can do. Order management starts with your “open to buy.” Determine how much product you need. The easiest way to do this is to think about the linear square feet that need to be filled in your store. Break the amount of space into categories of product (I.e., “I need four feet of jewelry, six feet of wall décor”). Apply a budget, balance this against your operating capital, and stick to it! If you only have $10,000 in cash to work with in June, only have $10,000 worth of product bought and shipped in June!

Be sure to leave a discretionary fund! When you see the hot new product, you may need to usurp something else in order to bring that in. Make this plan for each month of the year and edit it at the beginning of each month based on current sales and industry trends. This is called your monthly “open to buy.”

Here is where your Rep comes in. Do not keep your Open to Buy information a secret! Share your thoughts with a trusted sales Rep. They may have ideas, based on their industry knowledge, on which categories will work best for you at the moment. They may also find products that fit best into your mix. Good Reps, like ours at The Link, are not scared to share market information with you.

Regardless of whatever POS system you may have that tracks your orders, they can all be rendered useless if you do not start with a plan. I take the following steps when working with my Open to Buy:

  • Assuming that you have a 1500 square foot store or smaller, create a page for each monthly plan (that we discussed earlier).
  • Create a PO# for each order.
  • Decide how each PO accomplishes the goals laid out in your monthly plan. What categories are covered? How many linear feet? Is it cost effective?
  • Track the PO information on the monthly page. Add the following columns: Received On, Dollars Received, Paid On.
  • As you place and receive orders for each month, track each of the columns.
  • When you reach your budget in the dollars or reach the limit in your categories, you are finished buying for the month and your “Open to Buy” is now depleted.

In Store Events

In Store Events are what set the independent retailer apart from the big box stores! Retail can be much more of an experience, rather than just a quick errand run. Events can actually have an impact far beyond the scheduled evening or two day time frame.

A good example is a store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire called Attrezzi’s Fine Kitchen.Attrezzi's outside This store has a wine tasting every Friday night. Evening strollers can stop by for a glass or two and wander the store before heading to a restaurant down the street for dinner. The romantic effect of walking through the store on a pleasant evening causes people to stop by again during the week. This is a classic example of the halo effect an event can have on customers – it brings them back to the store again and again, hoping to create a similar positive experience.

An event also has positive word-of-mouth effects. To continue to use Attrezzi’s as an example, every time a new customer comes into the store, store employees can easily mention the wine tasting as an incentive for the customer to return.Attrezzi's inside

There is a huge amount of Social Media fuel with events. Not only is this an opportunity to create Facebook events and invite people through Instagram, but it offers up excuses for great photos that can be blasted through social media channels for months to come! It is instant marketing for the next event; when Instagram followers see customers drinking wine and buying items at the store, they see an experience they wish to be a part of. Stores often offer up a small discount to people who tag them on social media.

Have an event, and encourage attendees to take photos and tag their friends and the store in their social media posts! Offer up a photo booth, or a discount, and be sure to supply an incentive like food, wine, or another experience that customers are sure to remember.

Personal Care and Mother’s Day

A hot topic in today’s busy, digital age is self-care. And who needs a little love more than multi-tasking mamas? Personal care trends are reflecting the idea of self-care with products designed to slow down time and allow you to breathe. Face masks, bath bombs, and candles with sumptuous scents are all products that women can use to add a mini oasis of self-care to their days!

 

Bath and Body has reclaimed a major spot in our industry. These products have become significant again in a different form; customers want a unique product and are looking at boutique lines that offer domestically made products.

Pedi Delight - FF

 

Farmhouse Fresh is a great example of a brand that uses their own, U.S. farmgrown ingredients! They offer spa treatments that moms can easily do at home, when they can grab a spare moment. The Pedi Delight is a new product, featuring Oprah’s O-list favorite Honey Heel Glaze, that offers a little piece of heaven for those overworked feet!

Calm and Quiet - Yankee

 

 

One of Yankee Candle’s newest fragrances encourages the idea of taking time out. A Calm and Quiet place has the scent of gentle jasmine, patchouli, and amber musk. The natural elements within the fragrance also hit on another distinguishing characteristic of the newer bath and body trends: authentic scents, like those you would smell in the woods.

 

Airome

 

Candle Warmers’ Airome collection offers up 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. Although they have yet to become a mainstream trend, essential oils are becoming a big part of new bath and body products. This connects with the aromatherapy trend. What mom doesn’t want her house to have a scent that also boosts her mood?

We Are the Spot for Bags!

bag1
Magid straw and canvas bags

The Link Companies is fortunate to carry nearly a dozen handbag lines, including Sondra Roberts, our biggest bag line, iLi, Chala, Steve Madden, Betsey Johnson, Coco + Carmen, Sydney Love, and Magid. Whether you’re looking for basic leather in a huge array of colors (iLi), trendy pieces (Sondra Roberts, Betsey Johnson), or straw bags (Magid), The Link has you covered!

bag2
Sondra Roberts evening bag

The best part about our handbags is the incredible variety. We have brands for all ages. Chala handbags, with whimsical elements including adorable animals, are beloved by younger girls and women alike. Steven Madden, Betsey Johnson, and Sondra Roberts make it a point to focus on high fashion, on-trend handbags featuring tassels, novelty shapes, and metallics.

bag3
Ultraviolet iLi leather bags and accessories

 

Sydney Love makes fantastic totes that are reversible, and contain a smaller interior bag, making them a fantastic deal with three bags in one at an affordable price. Magid, a maker of straw hats, also does straw totes that are suitable for the beach or the city. Leather bags are the specialty of iLi. With their spring line, iLi introduced brighter, on-trend colors, including a purple that speaks to 2018’s color of the year, UltraViolet. Coco + Carmen has bags for every occasion, even security bags in the conceal and carry line, Saint Sabrina.

bag4
An adorable Chala Handbag

Beach, Please!

 

Shirt and hat by Katydid

Products that sell the idea of the beach have become incredibly prominent in our industry. Whether or not your store is actually near a beach is entirely irrelevant. Hats and t-shirts, like those from Katydid, boast sayings like “Beach Please” or “Life’s a Beach.” Your customer is one shirt away from feeling like they are about to take a vacation.

Magid is a brand filled with beachy straw bags and hats. Many of their straw purses are now using elements like metallic colorways and metal chain handles to elevate beachwear to a new level of fashion. Magid carries larger insulated totes that can be carried to the beach or lake, as well as slightly dressier bags to take to dinner during the summer months.

Sunglasses by Coco + Carmen

All retailers know that during the slow summer months, it takes a little more creativity to boost sales. Coco + Carmen provides a solution to this problem with fantastic sunglasses, which can be bought by the pair or as an assortment with a terrific display case. And everyone knows that flip flops, like those by Tidewater Sandals, are worn by people on and off the beach. Order them in prepacks of 12, or by the size to fill up your store with affordable and beachy options.

Men’s Gifts are Booming

It is impossible not to notice how much growth the gift industry is seeing in the men’s gifts category. In addition to many established brands expanding their product lines to include items for men, entire brands are being established to feed the insatiable male buyers.

Duke Cannon is the perfect example of a masculine product line that appeals to every kind of man. Personal care has not previously been a big seller for guys, but now having fantastic grooming etiquette is no longer seen as emasculating. Duke Cannon’s packaging is humorous and simple, with clean colors and large, chunky bars of soap featuring military themes and sending money toward veterans. This brand makes men’s facial moisturizer look like something a guy should obviously use after working in a garage all day.

A candle from the Woodwick Reserve collection

The Millennial male customer is a different type of guy. He is interested in shopping, much more so than his father or grandfather was in their youth. Home fragrances are recognizing this, and brands like Virginia Gift are carrying new product lines like Reserve candles that adopt a traditional masculine scent for a man’s space. Nebo, a division of Alliance Sports, sells flashlights and tools that are utilitarian gifts a younger man may shop for himself, or someone could give as a gift for an older gentlemen.

Tshirt by Straight Up Southern

It is increasingly important to make a retail space appealing for couples. Men from the Baby Boomer generation are now taking day trips to shop with their wives and partners. A good example of product lines that can appeal to males and females simultaneously are tshirt brands like Straight Up Southern and Fripp and Folly. These labels have sister brands – Itsa Girl Thing and Lily Grace. Retailers are wise to carry shirts that accommodate both male and female interests to up potential buys.

Comfy, Cozy Clothing

While Athleisure is still popular, we’ve seen a shift to comfortable, relaxed fits in women’s apparel. Even the novelty t-shirt brands are offering larger sizes and different styling for their customers. As women will always be (and have always been) “on the go,” brands are finally realizing that ladies need to be comfortable and simultaneously stylish.

Our brand Coco + Carmen understands that comfy doesn’t mean sacrificing trends. Take a look at their spring/summer pieces; flowy sheet tunics come with a cami so that customers do not need to find a separate under piece and solving a known problem for retailers. Loose-fitting tunics in the line are perfect for the summer heat and feature trendy embroidery and tassels for some    fun flair.

Hatley’s Resort collection for women has relaxed-fitting dresses that are excellent for spring and summer, with a ¾ length sleeve that can go from a warm outdoor climate to a chilly air conditioned indoor environment. Viv & Lou echoes this with gorgeous printed tunics and bathing suit cover-ups that provide some coverage in the sun (bye-bye sunburns!) or can be tossed on before grabbing a quick lunch.

Accent Accessories carries a truly magical item – Magic Pantz! These pants are designed specifically for comfort and fit. They fit pretty much everyone and look fantastic with longer tops and blouses, or even a tshirt for a more casual style.

 

Lastly, Galleria has a fantastic product to keep everyone comfortable in inclement, wet weather – Rain Capes! Unlike other more basic rain wear, Galleria has prints, like Monet’s Water Lilies and other fine art, and are reversible. If you don’t want the flashy print, simply turn it around and wear the solid side. Best part is – you’ll stay dry!

Easter Is On the Way!

Hippity Hoppity…

Easter is just around the corner. By the way, the last the holiday was on April 1st was 1956! It’s no joke to highlight religious based items for this incredibly important Christian Holiday. However, many products can be categorized as simply inspirational or uplifting. And, these items will satisfy any consumer shopping for words of encouragement to decorate, give as a gift, accessorize, read or study and enjoy. While bunnies, tulips, ducks, etc. are more prominent this time of year, we recommend keeping most of your inventory strong in items that sell all year.

A Thomas Nelson best seller

Thomas Nelson is the leader in inspirational books and there is something for every reader in their tremendous offering. Books are a must for every retailer and this division of Harper Collins has celebrity biographies, hugely popular authors, intriguing fiction, deep dive devotionals, light-hearted comedy, coloring books, cook books, books for kids, teens, parents and more. And, Thomas Nelson has the largest collection of Bibles for the consumer.

Brownlow products

Kitchen and entertaining pieces, home accents and functional goods are areas where Spring seasonal colors come into play for bright and cheerful store displays. And, while perfect for the store, they won’t need to disappear when Peter has hopped on down the trail. Brownlow covers all these areas with their array of functional goods, lively and creatively designed items. Their kitchen items and decorative signs are colorful, cheerful and they have an inspirational touch on many of their pieces. Brownlow has a nice assortment of journals that make perfect gifts. With Mother’s Day and graduation just around the corner, this company has plenty of kitchen themed giftables and home accents.

Custom Décor is the industry leader in flags and outdoor fun. Flags are a must for Spring. Flags and outdoor decorating is an assurance that winter is gone and stores should be enjoying their bright, vibrant colors on display. Custom Décor is perfectly in tune with what the shopper needs to decorate the outside of the home.

My Saint My Hero stack bracelets

Jewelry never, ever goes out of fashion! Inspirational jewelry is perfect for Easter the Mother’s Day/graduation gifts. My Saint, My Hero delivers with beautiful faith based “wearable blessings.” The company is all about prayer and empowerment. Easter is no doubt affiliated with these two adjectives. My Saint, My Hero’s stackable bracelets and necklaces will help reinforce the foundation of belief for the wearer and do so with a fashionable flare. From the Heart Wholesale covers a wonderfully affordable niche for store owners. Their inexpensive charm bracelets, earrings and necklaces are perfect impulse buys for the shopper. Inspirational is covered nicely with dozens of designs featuring crosses in different mediums and layouts.

Lizzy James bracelets

Lizzy James, the very successful supplier of wrapped bracelets, delivers with a selection of crosses and inspirational accessories. This Made in the USA artisan jewelry is perfect for the discerning buyer to create their own look for Easter. Stackable jewelry is still very popular at retail and shows no signs of slowing down. Periwinkle Jewelry is a mainstay for boutiques, gift shops, Hallmarks and Hospital Gift Shops with their highly effective rotating displayers of jewelry. Mixing in inspirational with everyday best sellers works well and makes for an easy shopping experience. Order accordingly for the Easter season with a nice supply of crosses and related pieces.

We’re excited for Easter (a most wonderful holiday!) and the beauty of Spring. Happy selling and Happy Easter!