Like so many other industries facing a blizzard of technological advancements and evolving working habits, the wholesale fashion industry is changing—and fast.
But it’s not a straightforward picture. The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive effect, driving people online as in-person events and meetings quickly became distant memories. Yet as restrictions eased, those events and meetings soon reasserted themselves. And today, offline wholesale fashion remains critical to the entire industry.
For wholesale fashion brands, the modern landscape isn’t a battle of online versus offline. It’s about bringing the two together for maximum impact.
The first step in that equation is about understanding that digital is now an essential tool. Not a tool to be feared, though. Instead, it’s a tool you can embrace and use it to grow your entire wholesale operation by complementing your offline efforts.
With the right digital set up, you can give customers a better experience, get accustomed to using the technology quickly, secure a solid return on investment (because the costs are definitely not prohibitive), improve your brand reach with virtual clothing showrooms, and streamline operations with online order management. What’s not to like?
Hybrid wholesale fashion is the strategic pairing of offline events with wholesale fashion online.
Think of traditional offline fashion practices, such as events, runways, and face-to-face sales meetings. All of these are powerful moments you share with your customers.
Online wholesale fashion allows you to build on your existing offline strategies with complementary tech that gives retailers a better overall experience. And this is what creates the hybrid approach.
For example, your customers can:
The evidence of the appeal of this joint approach is compelling. According to McKinsey & Co, 89% of fashion execs expect hybrid to be the new normal.
In 2022, online fashion platform JOOR processed almost $20 billion in wholesale transactions. And nine out of every 10 brands using JOOR use the platform as part of a hybrid online/offline sales strategy.
A hybrid approach to wholesale fashion is prudent from both a human and operational level. First, by letting digital complement the existing offline experience, you don’t undermine the personal connections on which much of fashion—including your own brand—is built. This is essential for maintaining strong customer relationships as you continue to grow over the coming months and years.
At the same time, embracing digital can have radical positive impacts on how your business runs. Bringing technology into your wholesale process saves you time and money, drives efficiency, and gives you the opportunity to make better inventory management and trends decisions via access to powerful real-time data.
Introducing wholesale online fashion into your business also allows you to store all your orders in one place, preventing the siloing of information across different brand departments.
There’s no doubt that retailer expectations are changing at pace. A head-in-the-sand, let’s-do-what-we’ve-always-done approach may sound appealing at first glance, but it is likely to prevent you from achieving your growth ambitions and could even precipitate the slow decline of your business.
Instead, the best path forward is to continue to value in-person connections while working hard to incorporate new digital technologies wherever possible that help you meet changing retailer expectations. For example, you could:
Both of these examples make life easier for your retailer customers. Once you understand that going online will only improve retailer relationships, it can also become easier to overcome budget hesitancy about investing in an online platform. You quickly begin to realize that not investing is holding back your growth.
Wholesale online fashion is not just incredibly powerful. It is also inherently flexible, presenting opportunities before, during and after any physical events you may host or attend.
Here are some ways the tools provided by online wholesale fashion platform JOOR can be used at the different stages of your event-based sales process.
JOOR’s Custom Profile feature lets you use simple drag-and-drop templates and widgets to assemble your showroom without any coding knowledge.
Many of the brands using JOOR have found this an excellent way to feature their latest collection and introduce their brand and brand story ahead of a potential first in-person meeting at a scheduled event.
When coupled with the JOOR Catalog, which gives browsers photos, videos, and 360° imagery, retailers can quickly build up a positive impression of your business and start to understand the precise details of your latest collections.
JOOR tools: Custom Profile, Catalog
At in-person events such as trade shows, meetings, and showrooms, digital technology can add a new layer of surprise and delight. Sales agents can use JOOR’s iPad app, for example, to talk through your collection with interested retailers and really build interest and excitement among those considering placing an order.
Brodie Cashmere is one of the many fashion brands to have had success with this approach.
Both the mobile and iPad app allow retailers to view your collections and products in all the detail they need. They can zoom in on high-resolution imagery to see the precise finish of each piece.
They can gather full details about available colorways and sizes, expanding their knowledge of a product they might have seen only momentarily on a passing runway model. They can also build their assortments live, a process that previously would be manual–challenging and cumbersome. And your sales agents can use the platform to take orders in face-to-face meetings that immediately enter your business’s wider systems.
Harnessing the power of The Edit, JOOR’s flexible presentation tool, also allows you to create and present curated shoppable collections.
These have been proven to secure orders faster and show retailers that you’re providing a bespoke service that caters to their precise interests and needs. JOOR’s virtual showrooms provide a similar experience.
Finally, sales agents can also use the online ordering facility to draft retailer orders, which can then be finalized remotely at a later date after the event. This can help to remove a point of friction in the buying process.
JOOR tools: Mobile app, iPad app, Catalog, The Edit, Online Order Management
The end of an event doesn’t signal the end of your sales opportunity. With the right wholesale online fashion tools, you can continue to generate orders in the days and weeks that follow.
JOOR’s platform enables retailers to review and browse collections when they’ve returned home, giving them the space and mental freedom to make informed, considered buying decisions after their in-person meeting with your sales agent. They can then place orders independently whenever they are ready.
JOOR tools: The Edit, Catalog, Virtual Showroom, Online Order Management
Whether you like it or not, digital is now embedded in wholesale fashion and is firmly here to stay. So too, though, are offline and in-person meets, events, and showrooms.
The most successful fashion brands of the next decade will marry both online and offline for enduring success, giving their customers all the speed and convenience they’d expect of a 21st-century business while simultaneously improving their own operations and reliability.