Expert Panel: How to Grow Distribution as an Independent Brand

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Last week Modalyst hosted a panel discussion with leaders in retail on how to best gain distribution as an emerging brand. We were fortunate to have an amazing location at Young & Able’s pop up store on Rivington which was packed full by 7pm! We also had 4 stellar panelist and a rock star moderator. See here for the details.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, or those who did and need a recap of all the great advice shared…here it is. (I have also included an audio recording of the entire discussion at the end)

Tell your Brand story

Remember that Retailers need to sell your brand as much as you do. Help them by sharing your unique story so they can pass this along to their customers. Your product is what will attract the customer, but your story is what will make them buy it. Every designer’s source of inspiration is different so no matter what it is, don’t be afraid to paint it across all aspects of your brand. Jill, co-founder of Modalyst, said “Shout it from the rooftop!”

Communicate

I was surprised to hear how many of our panelists have experienced poor communication with new, growing brands. Rosa, founder of Young & Able, told a story of a brand who had failed to update her on inventory levels which resulted in her losing a customer. Everyone agreed that prompt responses are a must in developing a relationship. In fact, one of the ways Rosa first judges a brand is on how quickly they respond to emails – so try your best to prioritize your inbox.

Be Persistent but Purposeful

Overall message here was to use all methods of communication but be mindful of content. Nova, the Editor in Chief of Raine Magazine, agreed this is true for press as well. She advised trying good old snail mail to stand out. She said receiving well packaged material in the mail makes you stand out. Rosa said she likes when people offer to meet in person- she gives everyone an hour to tell their story with her full attention. Most important thing to remember is to prepare- whether it be for sending a package or meeting for coffee. Make it worth the editor / buyer’s time.

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Get down to Biz

Ivan, co-founder of In Support of, reminded us that running a brand is 25% designing and 75% business. This means you should be spending the majority of your of time organizing your business plan / model. Are your prices consistent? Are your operations in place to be able to fulfill orders on time? If you have a good product, this is the next thing a buyer will look for when deciding whether or not to carry your brand. Most brands think they should be talking about the product all the time but don’t forget the retailers are businesses too so they want to feel confident in your business acumen. Melissa, founder of The Emerging Designer, emphatically noted her dislike of multiple exclamation points in emails. Be as professional as possible.

Collaborate

The relationships you form with Retailers should be considered partnerships. Your goal is the same – sell your product! So learn how to collaborate by cross promoting. As soon as you confirm a new account, you should be blasting it on social media. Tell your customers to stop by the store to check out your collection. Ivan said this will be noticed by the store and they will be even more motivated to sell your product. Make it a team effort.

 

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