All photos courtesy of Walter G
TRADE SHOWS ARE WHERE IT’S AT
Lauren: A lot of stores religiously go to the seasonal trade shows to do the bulk of their buying. Despite how digital everything’s become it is amazing how many still go.
We stopped doing [trade shows] in our second year because it is an enormous investment of cash. It can be quite crippling for a start-up. We learned the hard way but quickly made the decision that it was worth the investment, so we got back on the trade show bandwagon in a massive way, doing them in Australia and the US.
NOTHING BEATS PERSONAL INTERACTION
Lauren: It’s very easy to get lost amongst the digital mail outs. Everyone’s got a million mail outs coming into their inbox every day and being such a tactile product it really helps. Even with our best customers, they’ve often placed the order before they actually see us at the show but they always still come by and love to have that personal connection.
Genevieve: We try to make the process as interactive as possible. We have a free area in the middle of the stand and tell them to pull out the cushions they like, create a story and try to really engage them. If it does appear they’re liking the product and the vibe of the brand then we do take the order on the spot, four out of five times.
PAYMENT UPFRONT VS. ON DELIVERY
Genevieve: We were told early on by a couple of veterans in the wholesaling arena that post financial crisis there was a lot of problem with wholesalers receiving payment. They dispatched the goods and they’d be chasing payment for up to six months. So we made the decision to take a deposit on the day and confirm the order.
We probably lost a couple of customers doing that. But at the same time, we were small and starting out and couldn’t really afford to reserve stock for someone and then have them pull out or not pay.
THE FIGHT FOR EXCLUSIVITY
Lauren: Exclusivity is really difficult. We’ve got rules like we only stock to maximum three in a highly populated area. We make sure there’s no crossover of SKUs, so no shop will carry the same product. We have stuff like minimum ordering and then we will grant full exclusivity on a suburb if that particular company is spending x amount with us per month.
It’s something we review every six months, based on ordering and we’re now trying to factor into our designing process; building a much bigger range, so we have more to offer. So instead of having 24 different cushions we will have 40 different cushions.
YOU NEED THE RIGHT BUSINESS TOOLS
Genevieve: Often people starting businesses are quite creative and not really into that side of things but the reality is you have to. If you want to be able to sell to retailers, there does have to be an element of that mechanical side of it that has to be catalogued.
We use a bunch of cost effective and easy to use cloud programs to manage our inventory and our website and accounting and things like that, which is a really boring side of the business [but] you can’t wholesale to retailers without doing that stuff. It has helped us track what our customers have bought, how frequently they buy. It helps you track all that information which, if you can get a hold of is really gold, in terms of being able to attend to the retail stores effectively.