It takes three assistants to unload the boxes of samples. After unwrapping the prototypes, next year’s fashion trends are neatly displayed on a long, sterile table. Checking the clock there is just ten minutes remaining before the big meeting starts. 

The hustle and bustle of market week brings brands and retailers together to settle on the final buys. This is the end of a complex channel strategy for brand sales leaders and retail buyers as they negotiate the collection that they expect to result in a winning season. However for most brands, they lay their products out on that long table and then step back to allow the retailer’s buyers to slowly walk through. 

Picking up each pair of shoes the buyers examine the quality of the stitching and the feel of the material. They reflect on the colorways presented and think about the past collections that have out sold the rest. Their personal style, cognitive bias, and collection of thoughts are the only data points guiding this decision.

For a smaller brand, this single meeting represents five to ten million dollars worth of sales to this retailer. For large brands the stakes are much higher. These big decisions are usually based entirely on gut, hindsight data, and intuition. If the buyer doesn’t like a season’s colorways or fabric selections this meeting could result in a line failing before it ever hits the shelves. 

For brand sellers, understanding your key account’s customers is your secret sell-in advantage. Imagine a different scenario. Instead of just placing next season’s products on that long, sterile table, sophisticated brands are taking a new approach. 

Walking in to this key buy meeting, these forward thinking brands have an improved strategy. Coming armed with granular data about how the brand’s line resonated with that retailer’s customers is a powerful advantage. Having a highly curated set of data about that retailer’s target demographics gives a brand incredible leverage. Instead of being sucked into a losing battle over whether pink or neutral or gray will outperform the rest, these innovative wholesalers have data at their fingertips that predict sell-in trends and provide confidence that a particular line will shine on the retailer’s shelves.

What if you are challenged with bringing an entirely new line to the market? Even if your company has had past success in other categories, this sell-in moment will elicit a contentious meeting as a brand asks a retailer to take considerable risks on a new assortment.

You don’t need to weaponize your data to use it to increase their confidence in buy depth. By bringing your own sell-in forecasts tailored to their particular markets, you can unlock an innovative culture of collaboration with your retail partners. They will begin to pre-order next season at a higher rate when your data consistently forecasts their actual sales. Becoming sustainable partners by understanding and delivering for their consumers ensures continued success season after season.

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