There’s one truth in the retail world: You can’t make money if you aren’t selling what people want. Of course, keeping up with consumers’ likes and dislikes can be challenging. What’s trendy today can be out of vogue tomorrow. But that doesn’t mean that your store can’t wow buyers with the latest, greatest items.
What’s the core trick to becoming known as a trendsetting retailer? Incorporate a few of the following strategies into your product sourcing, marketing, and selling practices. That way, you can avoid dealing with the financial woes of a stockroom or warehouse filled with unsold goods.
1. Buy merchandise from trend-forward vendors and partners
Don’t just look for the lowest price when deciding which products to display on your shelves or your website. Evaluate whether your suppliers can bring you items that your target audience actually wants. Being selective takes time upfront but can pay off handsomely later.
Let’s say you’ve positioned your brand as a seller of the hottest women’s clothing styles. It would be much easier to source clothes from an online women’s wholesale apparel platform such as Faire. Why? These types of marketplaces offer clothes that represent the leading curve of what’s fashionable in women’s wear. Consequently, you won’t have to worry that you’re advertising anything but the most appealing attire.
It’s time for your business to do more with social media than just grab followers and run ads. A little “social listening” can help you understand what’s getting the most attention from the public you serve. And what you learn could inform the types of items that you choose to sell.
For instance, perhaps one of your customer target personas is teenage girls. Pew Research suggests that nearly half of all teens in that category are on some social channel. Therefore, you check out Instagram and Tiktok. You discover that many girls seem to be wearing hats, which you currently don’t sell. Naturally, you decide to test whether or not hats belong in your brand. Who knows? Your social listening could become the start of a new arm of your business.
3. Look at what your strongest competitors are doing
You know who your toughest competitors are. Still, you might not be following them from a trend perspective. Perhaps they’re outselling you in specific categories, not because of their stellar marketing but because they’re on-trend.
Spend time evaluating and examining what other sellers are promoting, as well as how they’re promoting those products. Have they hit upon a “case use” for an item that you never thought to encourage?
Maybe you and your biggest competitor sell similar bikes but they outperform you. It might be that they push their bikes as a way to practice an environmentally conscious lifestyle. By contrast, you try to encourage people to buy your bikes to stay fit. In that situation, tweaking your advertising to add greener touches could make your content seem trendier.
4. Keep everything about your site or physical store fresh
It isn’t just what you offer the public that gets your brand a reputation for trendiness. It’s your overall presentation. From the setup of your e-commerce website to the layout of your brick-and-mortar location, stay up to date. Otherwise, consumers will assume that your goods are probably outdated if that’s the way your appearance looks.
This doesn’t mean that you have to undergo the expensive process of a complete online or offline renovation. That wouldn’t be practical or economical. Nevertheless, put thought into forward-leaning elements like allowing contactless payments or, down the road, QR payments. Ultimately, the more ahead of the game you are with every facet of your retail store, the better.
5. Stay on top of your sales data with tech software
Only a couple of decades ago, small businesses had to gather and “crunch” sales data by hand. No longer. Today, you can add software to your tech stack that will help you determine how trend-worthy a product may be.
How exactly can you use incoming data to figure out if an item is in fashion? Pay attention to the cyclical ebbs and flows of individual SKUs for red flags. Prime example: Year-end holiday ornaments aren’t likely to sell in May.
As a result, their numbers won’t look good in the springtime. No problem there. Yet you want to see a bump up in sales by October or November. If this stops happening two years in a row with the same ornament, you can probably retire it. After all, it doesn’t seem to be resonating with buyers any longer.
Becoming the Long-Term Trendsetter in Your Retailing Niche
So what are the key takeaways to keep in mind to make sure your retail company doesn’t fall out of vogue? First, choose your third-party vendors and partners wisely. They can directly influence your brand’s public perception.
Next, keep your ear to the ground by using social media as a consumer—and competitor—listening tool. And lastly, embrace the latest advancements and upgrades to present a fresh, contemporary face.
Never underestimate the power of being known as the go-to retailer in your product category. Even if you don’t personally follow the trends of the day, your brand should. You and your team will benefit from the boost you get for getting and staying ahead of the rest.