A person who knows your brand and travels to trade shows or has a showroom to display your brand to prospective clients whom they already have a relationship with. (which makes for easy sales, because the trust is already there)
Sales Reps have 3 main tasks: looking for new customers, making sales, and following up to make sure that customers are satisfied and ready to buy again.
This is a great alternative if you dont have the necessary money to travel on the road for shows. They usually visit certain shows in specified territory in which they house multiple brands and showcase them and in return are paid on commission.
If you want to be in a certain store and the buyer isn't ready to commit to an order just yet, maybe you can give him/her the extra confidence they need in your line by holding a trunk show. This allows you the designer to bring garments into the store and sell for "x" amount of days. It's a great way to promote your line and also prove to the buyer that your line is going to sell and that there is less risk involved with ordering and plus you will make a little money. Trunk shows can be applied for any market from designer wear to urban fashion.
Make sure to plan the show for a weekend or a time where the store will the busiest... like right now, around the Christmas Holidays. Promote and send out emails to all your friends and business associates make sure there is a great turnout...and the store order will be yours for the future.
STORE CONSIGNMENT = SUICIDE FOR YOUR LINE
When starting a clothing line most designers will do anything to get their designs into store fronts for sale. I'm pretty sure most of you pretty familiar with the idea of consignment as an option of retailing in a store. This is mostly used by store owners to reduce the risk of your brand not selling well or as expected. One problem is that the store owners could careless if your brand moves or sits on the shelves. They did their part by giving you space to display your products, but the rest is up to you. The other problem with consignment is after your garments sell, you will be waiting to receive payment from the store accounts, which can get messy, and create bad relationships with brands and store owners when they fail to pay within the agreed terms. In all reality if a store really, really, wants to give space to your brand within their store they will have no problem with paying for it upfront at a reasonable wholesale price, if not give them some other incentives.
WHY RETAILERS SAY NO
Working with large retailers can sometimes have a negative effect on your bottom line. Chain store retailers have a higher profit margin than most stores you might work with also causing you to sell your product for a lower price. A large order at the start up phase of an apparel company can leave you with a lot of shirts and nowhere to go with them. Most chain stores or department stores, when placing an order with you expect a certain amount of "sell through" and already know the percentage of markdown that they can place on your product in order to maintain their profit margins. If your brand doesn't perform like it should, you can find your company hit with a store "Chargeback". Which they will automatically deduct from your store invoice (the money they owe you!) or they can ship you back the pieces of garments that didn't sell and you will be responsible for refunding them the money for unsold merchandise. Unless no refunds was stated in the purchase order which will probably leave you with no order at all.
These are not the only reasons that can leave your brand hit with a dreaded chargeback. many startup lines don't have the resources to meet the requirement of large retailers which is a long list from shipping requirements all the way to apparel finishing. They can charge you for not using a preferred carrier (Like UPS). You can also be charged for not placing suggested price tags on your garments, and from what I've seen most start up brands don't have the right financing to invest in such aspects of the clothing business.
Most expect to pay on better terms than most boutiques or mom and pops stores that you may work with. They usually work with manufacturers who offer Net-30 or Net 45. Which is when they place an order, and they pay you in 30-45 days from the date they received the order. Not a bad idea right? Wrong! most start ups don't have the cash to run a business while waiting to be paid. COD is the way to go, which is what most smaller stores offer.
Reasons that could affect your bottom line: 1. Not shipping on time. 2. No price tags 3. No hangtags 4. Not shipping within their terms 5. Product selling as expected 6. Not packaged correctly 7. Net 30/45 shipping terms 8. Not shipping with preferred carrier (UPS) 9. Wrong style/color of product in shipment
Working with large retailers can have many drawbacks as you can see. Most will eventually over saturate your brand fast, and burn your brand out at an early stage. I think working with boutiques and smaller stores is the best way to go build brand awareness and gain purchase orders. Most don't require price tags. and they are most likely to work with you, and not usually upset about late orders, and they don't require a preferred shipping method. As you can see receiving large orders is not the best way, as you thought it would be. It is well worth the wait and much better when your company is prepared.