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The Merchant Life Newsletter

I Want The Whole Sale

By June 27, 2024No Comments

The story of the brand Outdoor Voices is riddled with ineptness.

Their journey from hyped athletic apparel brand to raging dumpster fire is well documented.

In short, its another example of a DTC brand acting as if fundraising is something to be proud of versus building a profitable business. Retail fundamentals were lacking, leadership isolated the brand from its customers and vendors were not getting paid.

(Wait, vendors were not getting paid? They raised money, no??)

In May, Consortium Brand Partners bought the remnants of Outdoor Voices, after the brand closed its stores and fired corporate staff.

This ain’t the first and it ain’t the last story of a DTC brand following a similar trajectory.

But, of course, there are DTC brands that are successful. And, part of that success comes from the skillful creation of wholesale partnerships. The value of these comes from reducing acquisition costs and accessing new customer segments that are out of reach with a “direct-only” approach.

We figured we would bring out our tips for DTC brands looking to increase their wholesale presence.

We presented these in a previous edition of our newsletter, but they are highly valuable and worth reiterating. I present to you our “Wholesale-ism’s.”

1 – Forget Transaction, Think Partnership. The intention of coming into the relationship is usually transactional. But, that is not long-term thinking. The goal of a wholesale partnership is to work together to serve the customer. So, it’s ideal to build a partnership where relevant information is shared. This will improve future product development and increase full-price sales.

2 – Enable the Buyer to Buy. Leverage sell-through, full-price selling, and inventory turns. Come to the table prepared to replicate success by pre-populating the new season’s buy. It’s important to recognize that not all buyers are created equally. Some like to take an entire assortment apart and put it together themselves and others are more hands-off.

3 – Talk to Customers often. Understand what sells like hotcakes and what are the duds. Have alternatives ready to go to replace the duds. Talking to customers means understanding who they are, what their day-to-day is like, and what they want to accomplish.

4 – Prepare Like a Pro. Prepare line sheets and include your brand story plus marketing material. Outline your point of difference and suggest your adjacencies. Ensure that you comp shop. See the brands already in store and price position products around the brands you want to be next to. Preplan mini-assortments along with delivery drops in your line sheets. Finally, go visit the stores. Understand the store layout because space constraints will limit what you can sell.

5 – Know What Levers to Pull. Selling wholesale is a dance of negotiation. That means being able to structure a deal tenable for both sides. Experienced retail buyers know exactly what they want and where they have flexibility. This means that you need to know what variables you can adjust. For example, you could offer a competitive markup in exchange for the retailer spending more with you. For a new account, consignment for the first order; prove to the retailer their customer will buy the brand. Or, offer exclusivity for a period of time.

6 – Make the Buyer Look Good If your products don’t sell, it’s not a good look for the buyer. Meaning, no repeat purchases for you. Prepare selling tools for your retailers and their brand ambassadors. Product knowledge, styling advice, and care/content information are great add-ons. These save time for the buyer in having to create these.

DTC brands, use the above to help with your wholesale efforts. I guarantee that you will find the advice to be helpful.

Oh, and if anyone knows anyone at Consortium Brand Partners, feel free to send them our “Wholesale-isms.”

It might help them extinguish the dumpster fire they just bought.