Christmas and New Year is almost upon us! For a lot of people the New Year is a time to look back on the previous year + make plans for the new one. If you want to grow your fashion business next year, there's some things you need to review before you can make a plan to move forward. This post covers the steps you can take to prepare for 2018. If you've not got a business yet + want to start one next year, there's a similar post that's tailored to startups which you can read by clicking here.
In order to move forward, you need to look back, see what's worked, what didn't (+ why) + what you could improve on. You should have some sort of tracking system, where you can compare information + review. Or, if you're like me, you'll have many systems in place that allow you to review data. If you don't, start something immediately! Data tracking doesn't have to be fancy, but many websites offer advanced analytics to help with online traffic + information about your customers. If your platform doesn't have this, Google Analytics is a free + powerful tool you could use. You should of course have information on sales + as well as tracking the product + value, you should add extra information such as customer location, referral, how much they've bought from you, etc. I do this in Excel. The other thing I do is keep track of any feedback I've received from customers, good or bad. This stuff is gold! Again, I use a simple Excel sheet to keep track of these. So, what should you look for in the data?
- Patterns in sales, for example, identify which styles, colours + sizes were most popular. Dig deeper here, don't take numbers at face value, what I mean is understand any factors that may have contributed to the results. For instance, if usually your bestselling size is a Large, but there's a particular style that sold best in size S, look into why this is. Could it be that the style wasn't fitted properly so that people had to go down a size, or perhaps that style isn't as flattering on a fuller figure.
- Requests for similar things. You do have to take customer feedback with a pinch of salt, as you can't always please everyone, but if you notice patterns in feedback that you receive from customers this is definittely something worth looking at in depth. For example, do you get requests for different lengths, sizes, colours? Or when customers return items, what reason do they give is there a problem with the fit, quality, colour?
- A really important part of any product based business + growing the profitability, is increasing your average transaction value (ATV) + average transaction units (ATU). ATV is how much each customer spends on average. The higher the better, of course. ATU is how many items a customer buys from you in one purchase. If typically a customer is only buying one thing from you, you need to look at ways to increase this, usually by offering add on products. Does your product offering compliment each other as an outfit? Do you offer extra items, for instance a necklace to go with your top, or scarf to go with your coat? If not, chances are you're missing out on sales.
Next, when you've got useful data to use, you need to use this to improve your next range, even if you've already started sampling. Of course, there's not as much you can change if you've already started the sample stage without additional cost + most likely a delay, but you can still make changes to colours, the size range that you order + there's usually time to add accessories as these are a shorter lead time (less development + production time).
So how can you use data to improve the range?
- Make adjustments as nessarsay to your size break (how many units of each style to order). If you're not familiar on size breaks there's a full blog post on that here.
- Check the colour balance, are you giving customers the right amount of colour vs the bestselling options (usually black, white + grey)? Do you need to consider offering the same style in several options? Could you make an item reversible, so you can offer 2 colours in one garment?
- Check over the fit of your garments if you've had lots of returns of a particular style, or if you've received any negative feedback on this. It's really important to make sure the fit is consistent across the range, especially if you sell online.
- For the most popular styles, can you update them for the new collection? Perhaps if a Summer sleeveless top did well, you can add sleeves for the Winter range? Or could you offer the bestseller in a new season colour? If you don't want to do something so literal, think about what it is about the item customers liked. Was it the fabric, the details, fit, shape? How can you replicate this in a new item?
- Also look at the ratio of garments that you sold, for instance, how many tops vs bottoms, how many skirts vs trousers, etc. This will help you to grow your range + reduce the risk by increasing the number of items in areas that are selling well. Also consider how much people were spending + whether you're offering enough options at low, medium + high price points, whatever that may be for your brand.
The key here is using the data to make better decisions going forward. If you're growing your business from last year, this comes with increased risk + cost to produce more styles. By carefully going over data you can minimise the risk by creating a range that builds on your previous sucess + learns from things that didn't go so well.
I get it, life gets busy + standards slide. I'm guilty of this too. Take some time before the new year to do some tidying on your website, social media presence + behind the scenes. It'll set you up in good stead for the next year. What can you do exactly;
- Audit your website from a customer perspective; make sure all of the links work, make sense + are relevant. Do you need to update any information, or perhaps add new features - for instance, have you considered things like currency conversion, a loyalty programme or refer a friend capabilities?
- Audit your website from a business point of view. Is your most exciting + relevant content/product in a prominent place? Are you trying to increase your ATV + ATU by encouraging add on sales? What about gaining follows to market to in the future, do you have social media links + an email list sign up form?
- As we spoke about, data is really important to have. So take the time to make sure that you're making systems that make it easy for you to log information. Set yourself up with Excel sheets if you don't have them already + reconsider your returns form. Checkboxes are a good way to get information on why someone returned something, as it's quick + easy to complete. Always leave space for additional comments too, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to give you feedback.
- If you find yourself replying to the same emails all the time, is there a way you can answer this within your product descriptions, or terms + conditions? If not, could you create draft emails so that you can copy + paste a lot of the information, only having to customise some parts depending on the customer?
- This is also a good time to look into your supply chain, is it really working for you, or have you just been using it because it's too much hassle to move? Or you don't know where to start looking for an alternative. Also consider the processes you're using. Do you spend hours trawling though emails looking for information, or is everything easily organised in Excel sheets? Are your samples shoved in a draw, or organised on a rail? What can you do to make life easier + faster?
I hope this post has given you some insight into ways of building your business next year! I've covered some advanced topics here + you may be wondering how to implement them in your business. If you're considering getting 1-1 help, I offer a service that allows you to have your current range + ideas for expansion looked into by an industry professional. The consulting session included then gives you opportunities to ask questions + learn more about what you can do to grow your business + steps you can take to achieve success. For more info on this you can click here, or alternatively you can message me with any questions here.