How to price your products is the constant worry of small designers. Every where you go bigger companies are producing more garments than you, at more stores than you, for much smaller prices than you. And with that apparently all important free shipping that only a huge company can sustain because big chains mean safety in numbers. Customers are often blinded by low prices and a constantly refreshed selection of reproduced ranges. But a bargain isn’t always a bargain and customers rarely understand that discounts and freebies cripple brands, often driving them to bankruptcy in the quest for sale numbers.
Trying to price match might get you more sales. You might hit your targets in that respect and you can enjoy those all important numbers that you aim for, but if you’re selling everything below its original asking price, it’s just numbers on a spreadsheet. John Lewis is a prime example of this. Its price match policy might get them sales, but in the profit stakes it’s been bad news and it’s been the same across the board for many high street shops.
If you want to stick to your own pricing policy you need to find other ways to entice customers who may not understand why they should pay more. Have a unique selling point that justifies why your products cost what they do and explain this on your social media. It may not get you all the sales you need, growth might be slow, but at least you are sticking to your principals. Honestly, I think, is rare in fashion. Educate your customer base and you are more likely to gain loyal customers who understand what they are paying for and return once they discover the uniqueness of what you offer.
If a unique product isn’t your strongest selling point (and it’s difficult in the fashion industry to create something that’s truly different) there are plenty of other ways you can market yourself. Is your range handmade? Is it sustainable? Is it a unique product that can’t be bought elsewhere? Is it made in your home country? Is it ethical? How transparent is your supply chain? Do you customise your products? What is your customer care like? These are all increasingly becoming key factors for conscientious fashion buyers.
Above all, be true to yourself. Don’t sell out and become the next Primark just to make a quick buck. it won’t work. The new generations of designers and manufacturers have a guilty conscience when it comes to where they fit into the world. They want to do better at their practices and not contribute to waste, slave labour and climate change. Customers seek out those qualities, which are easier to find in a smaller designer who is more likely to know where everything comes from and provide a one to one customer service.
As more fashion brands dwindle and we are left only with the likes of Amazon, it feels like the day of the small designer will come. I see more and more small home start ups as the face of high street fashion gets less and less attractive. Everything looks the same these days and it’s incredibly depressing for everyone. The creativity has gone out of mainstream fashion because it all became about profit not the clothes. There are lots of small designers all over the world doing exciting things. Different things. You can actually own something that looks completely unique and it isn’t difficult to find, and that’s an exciting prospect.