How to get full price or The indie eco-system: Retail on the ropes

As manufacturers, you depend on getting full price for your stuff but are you always aware of the interplay at retail? Think about it; how your partners in independent and specialty stores are faring should concern everyone including consumers.

Two recent blog posts highlight the problem, first was from the Robin Report in Derailing the showroom scare:

A recent [study] revealed that 70 percent of consumers ages 25 to 54 with smart phones use them to comparison shop, up from 62 percent a year ago. And of those who use their smart phones to comparison shop in-store, almost one in three ultimately buys the product online… The [survey] found that 49 percent of consumers ages 55 to 65 use their smart phones to comparison shop… By shopping online, customers can save up to 10 percent on sales tax and potentially more off the price of the desired item. As price increases, so do the financial benefits of purchasing online. And the more commoditized the product, the more susceptible it is to showrooming.

This brings to bear a post Miracle wrote on how independent designers unwittingly reduce their selling opportunities at retail by printing their urls on hang tags and labels, and why retailers are reluctant to buy from you because of it.  That isn’t as important today as it was when she wrote it because most people know they can find you online even if your url isn’t obvious so the more important question becomes -are you enforcing your price points? That’s the real problem. If you want the scale and distribution, not only must you enforce MSRP (or MAP pricing) on your consumer direct sales, you have to enforce this policy with retailers who sell your products online.

That your retail partners -who you expect to buy your stuff- depend on you enforcing your pricing in the age of internet sales comes from this independent retailer who explains how this is killing the specialty store business:

The manufacturers are training [customers] that bloggers are their most trusted source of information. Where does that leave the retailers? Just a few years ago, our expertise was essential to our value proposition to [customers]. Now we’re being relegated to the back row of a very loud chorus.

What’s a retailer’s goal? To give customers a great experience and match them up with the right products for their families. What’s a blogger’s goal? To attract traffic to a website. Does anyone else see a problem here? I’m not saying bloggers aren’t awesome (many are), or that they don’t have a place in strategic marketing – of course they do.

The author goes on to explain what she thinks manufacturers can do to support their specialty store business.  I truly believe her article is required reading. Folksy and friendly, she makes the same points that have been mentioned on this site quite a few times. In fact, if any of this concerns you, I urge you to read the related posts that appear at close. It could make all the difference in selling an account and not. If independent stores are not around anymore, neither will you be and consumers will have increasingly fewer choices in product selection.

Lastly as consumers, you aren’t off the hook either. If you’re looking for less homogeneity in an age where everything looks and fits the same at big box stores, you have to seek and patronize smaller specialty stores that carry independent products because those manufacturers aren’t tied to department store sizing guidelines or the need to cross merchandize their styles in the season’s “it” colors. The latter aren’t intended as criticism by the way; selling in department stores means your stuff has to fit and mix and match similarly to other lines on the same rack or it’s confusing to customers.

Related:
The battle of retailers vs manufacturers
Compromising with retailers
Three reasons you’ll be knocked off
Three reasons you’ll be knocked off pt.2
I can’t think of a spiffy title for this sales rep post you must read
Value Circularity: cotton, colanders & the specialty store market
Advantages of selling what you produce

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