Finding the right products has never been an easy task for boutique buyers. But in the age of Covid and a third national lockdown, getting hold of stock shoppers want to buy has become even trickier for retailers.
As we’re all too aware, the fashion sector has been particularly affected by the pandemic. With weddings and summer holidays cancelled in 2020 and a large part of the nation working from home, loungewear was one of last year’s winning categories closely followed by sleepwear and athleisure. Now as the nation lives in isolation once again for at least seven weeks, indies are finding they may need to rejig their usual spring/summer offer to react to a change in demand.
“If the pandemic has taught retailers anything, it’s that they must be ready to make changes to their business swiftly and be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice,” says Mina Melikova, co-founder of B2B marketplace TradeGala. “No one knows what the rest of this year will look like now we are in another national lockdown. It’s possible that retailers will see a boom in dressier clothes as we enter the SS21 season. But with so much uncertainty about when life will return to normal, it’s almost impossible to predict what shoppers will want to buy.”
For this reason, some indies are ordering more products in-season than they would have done pre-pandemic. There are many benefits to buying this way including versatility, guaranteed stock, immediate deliveries and being able to react to the weather and consumer demand. Short order buying also means paying for stock as you go along, which can help with managing the business’s cash flow.
But it’s not always easy to find suitable brands that offer in-season collections. And with all major trade shows cancelled for the foreseeable future and a blanket ban on non-essential travel, finding new brands and stock to buy has become even more problematic for retailers.
Digitalisation of the wholesale model is offering a much-needed alternative for boutique owners and brands. Thanks to a new wave of B2B marketplaces such as TradeGala (Tradegala.com) it is now possible for buyers to hunt out new products and place orders from the safety of their computer, tablet or smartphone.
Many buyers are already used to scouring for new brands online via social media platforms such as Instagram. TradeGala takes it one step further by allowing buyers to browse entire collections and then place orders – all on one convenient site.
TradeGala’s roster of brands is ever expanding and the marketplace offers a comprehensive line-up to suit myriad tastes and budgets. Standout pieces available to buy via its site include two-piece lightweight tracksuits and faux leather leggings from Aimelia, cosy sweatshirts and soft pyjamas by Rossa Intimo as well as coordinating loungewear sets from Avinci Ltd. For buyers looking for dressier styles for when the lockdown lifts, there’s on-trend printed midi and maxi dresses by Zibi London, Liquorish and Hoxton Gal, party dresses and jewellery from Haus of Deck and affordable sustainable young fashion designs by Nesavaali. Buyers can choose from casual yet elegant womenswear pieces from Figi and Lenitif, sparkly heels by Glitz Shoes, fashion trainers from JR Artisan Fashion and intelligent underwear designs by Magic Bodyfashion. There’s also beautiful occasionwear pieces such as flowing gowns and bridesmaid dresses from City Goddess and Goddiva.
With a simple order process, retailers can make product selections with just a few clicks. Buyers can refine their search using the site’s in-built filters to find particular colourways, styles or prices – making it easy to curate unique and harmonious collections from a range of brands. Each product also has its own detailed page with professional photographs and in-depth information, which makes it easy to select the right pieces. And because TradeGala is in operation 24/7, retailers can research and choose products whenever and wherever it suits them.
TradeGala also offers centralised customer service and payment protection so buyers can feel confident when ordering. Many of its sellers offer low minimum order stipulations and sell single garments, so boutiques can make a small trial order to test the brand’s viability with their customer base with very little risk.
The fashion wholesale world will probably never be fully digitialised given the tactile nature of buying. However, as the country gets to grips with living in yet another lockdown, TradeGala offers a great way for retailers to access stock safety, conveniently and cost effectively. The last 10 months have been difficult for so many reasons, but buying great stock for your store has never been easier.