Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Fashion Industry Inside (Ode to Business Planning)

Selling retail apparel, including clothing, accessories and footwear, is a multibillion-dollar industry. If you’re thinking of opening a clothing store, an eye for fashion and a desire to sell your own designs or offer a variety of name-brand apparel are just the start. You also need to analyze the industry to find out if the potential for selling apparel, footwear and all the goodies that go with it is a solid, moneymaking idea.


A number of large, well-branded retailers make up a chunk of the apparel market, but many smaller businesses, such as boutique and niche apparel stores, are part of the market, too. The larger apparel retailers have an advantage over smaller shops since they get better pricing from suppliers because they buy such large quantities of apparel. That means their profit margin is greater and they can offer better retail pricing to their customers. Smaller apparel retailers make up for the high pricing they pay for wholesale retail apparel by selling certain types and styles of clothing rather than offering everything for everyone like many larger apparel stores.


One of the major trends affecting the retail apparel industry is the increase in people who like shopping for apparel on the Internet from the comfort of their home rather than shopping at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Emerging technology such as mobile applications are changing the way retailers do business. For instance, NRF Stores reports that customers who use mobile devices to buy spend eight times more than people who only shop in a store. Other mobile trends include creating mobile point-of-sale applications to make it easier to buy and offer services such as virtual fitting rooms. Another trend is the use of customer data to figure out what your customers want. A way for small retailers to get this information is to use social media to learn what their customers want.


Staying on top of the latest styles of clothing, footwear and accessories is key to attracting apparel-hungry shoppers. Otherwise you end up with too much inventory, or worse yet, your branding suffers. Another challenge is the abundance of retail apparel shops on the Internet since these may lure local shoppers, causing you to lose revenue. On top of the Internet threat, building and operating a physical location is a costly endeavor. If money is a big concern, counteract these costs by solely selling apparel via the Internet and eliminate the need for a costly storefront and staff.

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