Negotiating with Retailers

When I first started…for me, retailers were, well, especially with the smaller boutiques, they were buying sale or return. Now I’ve seen a bit of shift
which is great for me because when you are dealing with the sort of specialist, smaller
retailers, if they’re making or placing an order then obviously it’s difficult for me
soft of…I need to get that stock made up, I need to make that fabric whereas some of
the retailers which I’ve recently just got they paid upfront or they’ll pay 50%. I think
it’s about being confident with that as well. When I first started I was quite shy about
asking: can you pay 30% upfront? Now I’m like these are the terms and conditions; this is
what we do. I guess it sort of depends on the retailer’s bill; if its a bigger retailer
then yeah, we’ll be a bit more accommodating with them, but usually if you just kind of
state that that’s in your terms most of them are OK about it. I try not to do sale or return
as much as I used to because the risk is all on me whereas I think it’s better if
it’s 50-50 so what I try do is try to have my buyers buy within a certain time period.
I say to my independent boutiques if they can get their orders in for a certain time
because if I am dealing with a larger retailer as well I can do the both orders at the one
time so I’m not having to do everything quite bitty and here and there. With the larger
retailers obviously, especially with the buyers, they’ll maybe want to change a colour or they’ll
say they really like a style, but I want it this colour way. I guess when you’re starting
out you do want to try and be accommodating as possible, but if there’s any sort of situation
where I do feel slightly uncomfortable and I don’t think it’s possible, I think they
best way to deal with that is just be completely honest with the buyer; I think they appreciate
it if you are honest and say, well, actually this can’t be done or if it does need to be
done can it be done at a later time? I think again with not only just the manufacturers,
but the retailers as well, just be completely honest with what you can and can’t do. Don’t
say you can achieve X amount of volume of stock if you actually can’t because when it
comes to the next season of buying they won’t trust you or they lose faith in your ability.
Again, it’s just being honest with both retailers. I believe that some sort of spreading of the
risk is a useful thing to think about. If, for instance, as a young designer you want
your product sitting beside a really important brand and design – a big name, it might be
worth you considering if you can afford to do sale or return. If you can’t afford
to do it then don’t go down that route just offer it to people that can pay upfront.

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