Virtual showrooms have become paramount in fashion. The concept Tommy Hilfiger pioneered is now mainstream. Every B2B Sales platform has a virtual showroom now, yet not enough has been said about what makes a digital/virtual showroom apt for fashion. In this race to digitize wholesale, fashion shouldn’t forget about the other side of a sales meeting: wholesale buyers.
A sales tool is not a sales experience
Digital wholesale platforms have changed how sales teams work and that means wholesale buying has changed too. The benefits of digital aren’t foreign to buyers. Efficiency, speed and cost reduction are clear for brands. While brands worry about their own sales experience, buyers always face a very fragmented buying process and digitization hasn’t necessarily changed that. The quality of the buying experience shapes the type of relationship you build with your wholesale buyers.
As wholesale races through digitization, brands are restructuring their P&L to eliminate unnecessary costs to serve customers. During this exercise brands must realize that not all customers bring the same value to them. The sales experience should match the different ways of buying across your customer portfolio and more often than not, one solution does not fit all.
So let's dive into what wholesale buyers find important. From the way buyers buy, to in-showroom or remote, and content. We asked wholesale buyers from leading European platform for fashion and lifestyle Zalando what it takes to have a great buying experience.
This is what they said.
#1 All Sales meetings may look the same, but each buyers buys differently.
Most wholesale buyers follow a similar process during a buying session: they start with numbers and past performance, then check the new collection and make a selection before placing an order. While this is true for the majority of sales meetings, how buyers make selections can be vastly different. Some buyers like to see the whole picture while others may prefer to get immersed in a brand’s seasonal story. Some may want to see everything by category while others may want to see everything broken down by price ranges. Some may want to do all of the above.
A good buying experience should account for these differences. Sales people should have tools to create an experience that balances the needs of both the brand and buyers. By style, category or price, a good salesperson (and a good sales platform) should allow different buying styles without removing the brand from the equation.
One solution cannot fit all.
#2 In-showroom or remote? In-showroom and remote!
One year in, the sentiment across buyers is that brands are facing a big challenge to adapt to new remote/hybrid realities and can do a few things to improve the experience for buyers. At the same time, buyers agree that for bigger, more complex buys, nothing beats having a face to face conversation.
But we believe that there is a middle ground here. The benefits of remote sales are becoming increasingly prominent for many overseas buyers. Hybrid sales are becoming the new way of selling.
A good sales experience should enable the conversation between salespeople and buyers. Not everyone needs to be guided, though it may be crucial for some in order to make the right decisions. Brands that offer this option in both in-showroom and remote will be preferred by buyers.
Choosing to buy in-showroom or remotely should not be a matter of compromise, but one of preference for wholesale buyers.