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Keeping the supply chain moving

One of the most important business decisions you’ll make in lockdown, is whether to buy new collections or not. Danni Hesketh, owner of Y.A.P Bridal, tells us why it is important for boutiques to keep their stock fresh.

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Ordering for next season

Choosing your new season gowns may seem like a daunting task right now however there is a way to flip that feeling and build excitement for the future of your business.

Keeping momentum is key and you need to be prepared to reopen with a boom. Potential brides will be more focused than ever on securing their dream dress. As this Spring has highlighted, unexpected scenarios can take place which are beyond our control, prompting our customers to be more organised and forward thinking with their forthcoming wedding purchases.

Preparing your stock inventory to include brand new season styles will set you in good stead for your future. By offering the latest collections available, you are building excitement and anticipation for your new wave of brides. This heightens brand confidence and propels your business to the forefront as a leader in bridal for your area.

Reinvest wisely and communicate with your area representatives on sample minimums and highlighted styles that they expect to perform well. Even though you’re unable to see the dresses in person your rep will have been able to gain a feel for the gowns ahead of their planned shows and can guide you from this based on your needs. Many designers are hosting virtual catwalks alongside shoot imagery to help you visualise their new collections which is so inspiring.

Your new season styles will also open a whole new level of social content to share and inspire your market whilst appointments in store are unavailable therefore growing your online presence further.

It’s important to refresh your stock list whilst boosting potential income when first reopening.

- Prepare a sample sale rail of gowns at specially discounted price points

- Choose wisely by offering styles you feel are ready to find their forever home or styles that are reflected in your new orders

There will be 2020 Winter Brides still looking for that dream dress who may not have their original spend available or time scale to work with for ordering after the pandemic.

Communicating with your suppliers

Communication is crucial in ensuring that your business navigates these unknown waters. Your relationships with your suppliers are so important as is your trust in each other. We are all in this together and neither side has experienced a pandemic like this before so it’s all new to us both.

Plan time to communicate with your designers on a weekly basis for:

  • Gown updates
  • Order progression & any potential delays in manufacturing
  • Delivery date confirmations
  • Let your designers know of any changes to your delivery address during the government lockdown to ensure no risk of missed deliveries
  • New season sample orders to plan excitement for your future
  • Manage your account well financially by communicating with your designer & consider placing deliveries on hold which have non-urgent lead dates
  • Your labels will want to support you and your business in moving forward together – communication is crucial in this process.
  • Make sure to think ahead and correspond with your brides on the relevant points above, be genuine & clear on any plan of action needed for their gown.

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Managing cash flow in this current period

Keeping your business above water will take careful planning and there are numerous possibilities that you can take advantage of during this period. Actioning the relevant government backed schemes that are both suitable and beneficial for your business should be at the forefront of your plans.

Furloughing your team is a big decision, however they will want to support you in this as you are supporting them by retaining their job role. Most of us are small independent stores and your team will understand that you need to protect your business during this time to allow their roles to exist after this period.

The small business grants being offered give a boost to your immediate cashflow along with furlough support to keep your teams roles safe. Communicate with your accountant and payroll departments where relevant, along with checking on the government guidelines for advice.

Whether you own or rent your business property make sure you correspond with your landlord or mortgage company to see what options they may have to offer. With the government breaks you may find that rent and mortgage costs can be placed on hold or reduced in the short term.

Taking deposits for appointments is a method to be considered. We need to adapt to our new sense of normality for 2020 and although this may not work for everyone it will potentially be a necessity for some stores. Brides will understand that there will be a lot more work going into their visits with deep cleans prior and post their appointment window. Time will be much more precious on both sides and diary space must be managed well to ensure social distancing is adhered to within the intimate environment of your boutique.

 

Forward thinking, planning and communication will benefit both your bridal business and our industry as a whole. We are stronger together.

 

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