Show more samples, sell more women’s wear – Column
Byline: BRIAN ANDERSON
For those of you who have read through most if not all of the preceding columns and features in this eighth Special Edition on Women’s Wearables, you may have noticed that the subject of samples came up again and again.
Now I’m here to hammer it home.
Show more samples, sell more women’s wear.
While the simple concept of showing samples will help you sell men’s apparel as well as women’s, a sample tends to make an even bigger difference when it’s a women’s item, particularly if the buyer is a woman. And many times we have heard about research showing women make promotional apparel purchasing decisions a lot more often than men do.
Like you, our offices are filled with catalogs from industry suppliers, and we seem to visit supplier websites dozens of times each day. But no image on a computer screen or picture in a catalog will ever get us excited about how truly desirable an item is the way an actual sample does.
You can be sure your buyers feel the same.
There is just something about having a sample in your hand. Being able to feel how soft the microfleece really is, or seeing the effortless, wrinkle-free drape of a polynosic shirt can sway a buyer much quicker than taking a real close look at a picture.
And when it comes to higher-end items like jackets, giving the buyer the opportunity to actually try on the item under consideration can seal a deal. When the editors of Wearables Business showed a couple of jacket samples featured in this issue to some of the women in our office, they instantly wanted to feel the fabric and try them on. Of particular interest was the Ladies’ Quilted Microfiber Jacket from supplier Weatherproof, shown on page 9, and the Women’s Hooded Soft-Schell Jacket from supplier Boardroom Custom Clothing, shown on page 10. While we like the photos, these are prime examples of jackets that need to be in the potential buyer’s hands as they consider the purchase.
The Boardroom jacket is made of an innovative three-layer fabric with an impermeable membrane that makes it waterproof and windproof. It almost reminds you of wetsuit-type material on the outside while the inside has the soft feel of microfleece. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that by looking at the picture.
You can tell from the photo of the Weatherproof jacket that it has a very designer-ish retail look, but you can’t feel the peached microfiber or see how well it fits for yourself.
Sure, it would be impractical to get the perfect range of samples together for every presentation. Certainly it isn’t always necessary. But in those situations where you are going after a high-quantity order or even a low-quantity but high-price-point order, having that sample available for your buyer to touch, see and try on for herself will be an advantage every time over a non-sample-showing competitor.
Many apparel suppliers will bend over backwards to accommodate situational sample requests from promotional products distributors because they know that getting their garments into the hands of potential buyers greatly increases the chances of a sale.
And when the sale is made, you return the sample and move on to the next opportunity. Or maybe you make arrangements to keep it for yourself. After all, once you got to touch it and try it on, the sale was made.
Brian Anderson is Senior Managing Editor of Wearables Business.
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