How and where to buy the ideal products for a wholesale clothing business?
Starting any business is a challenging task. Trading, be it of any type and kind is a really competitive sort of business in which you would rarely stumble upon a business owner that is happy to discuss his know-how, or help you in on his business strategies.
As a way to source clothing from the lower rate suppliers, the british merchants import clothes from Thailand, China, Philippines and various other countries. Because of the difference between currency values, along with the accessibility of inexpensive labor, importing apparel merchandise from these countries can cut the price of manufacturing, in contrast to producing the merchandise domestically in the United Kingdom.
Clothing business is a particular niche in which you can see aggressive competition but when you know what to buy, and how to obtain it, hardly anybody can keep you from flourishing. Therefore, it's recommended that you should have solid understanding of the field not just to distinguish high quality products from the substandard ones but also to accelerate the the entire process.
Establishing a clothing business could be a money-making option because men and women have to be dressed regardless of where on the planet they are. That's what makes this such a popular type of business around the world. In the UK market clothing is one of the major exports that add immensely to the national income. Over the last years, however, clothes imports have surpassed its exports, it is therefore extremely difficult for novice traders to locate quality sources. This is where this guide comes useful.
This can be your premium guidebook to find and get the best clothing stock from greatest sources. The guide gives a summary of clothing supplier verification, clothes sourcing and several other concerns relevant to the clothing business. This guide is basically a collection of detailed information about apparel business structure that will aid you setup rewarding business base of your very own.
Selecting the products
Various lines of clothing
Men and women, primarily ladies, enjoy to shop for apparels and clothing, which means that establishing a clothing business may be very profitable. At the same time, to stay prosperous in clothing business, it's essential to think of a successful approach which will delight those who are fashion conscious. That is why, a methodical tactic and good understanding of all the clothing lines is essential.
Deciding on a specialized niche in clothing marketplace is vital mainly because it minimizes the possibility of confronting stronger competitors and allows you to do well in the industry. Facts and particular features of several clothing lines are talked over below so that you can take the right steps.
By 2015 the worth of sportswear industry is predicted to experience a boost of 8.6%. As outlined by some reports, in 2010, the sportswear market was worth £4.5 billion and is probably going to make around £5 billion by 2015. If you intend to to set up sportswear business, this is the ideal time. This can be a excellent opportunity for various sports brands to promote their items. You could be one of them and fulfil the industry needs for jackets, uppers, hoodies, blazers, tracksuits, sweat shirts, shorts and dungarees.
Swim wear tends to make a lucrative niche. Whilst trading swimsuits, a number of things need to be considered for example the kind of fabric used for the producing of swimwear, the sewing, models adaptable to different person types etc. Swim trunks for guys and bikinis or 2 parts for girls are perfect items to focus on. Swim pants shouldn't have opening on both sides.
Informal and trendy apparel has remained well-accepted among the people. Because of the ever-changing styles and unforeseeable weather condition, men and women choose the clothes that they could use for some time and discard. And as a result retailers, distributors, traders and suppliers of shorts, blouses, jeans and frocks coats, overcoats, leggings, cargo trousers, khaki pants, chino trousers, trousers, skirts, jackets, shirts and associated everyday wear are rarely caught whining of low business activities.
Nobody would really label the styling sense of youth as "formal" but anyone would agree that the local fashion represents class. On that basis, the need for formal wear remains stable all year round. Official outfits are highly favored by business people, senior citizens, company employees and directors. Top selling formal wear among gents consist of: Long sleeved dress shirts with wing collar, suits, dress pants, polo t-shirts, pure cotton dress shirts, tailored knit sweaters stripes and shirts. On the other hand business suits, tailored knit sweaters, tunic shirts, pants, cotton shirts and long skirts are popular among the ladies. It is to be mentioned that British people dislike to experiment with colours with regards to formal clothing.
Work wear is manufactured out of non-shrink and strong material to provide durability and safety and also make the job process easier to handle. The demand in the market is continually very high. Because these clothing tend to be basic in styles and typically made of cotton, synthetic or artificial fibers to improve their toughness, their producing price in mass is affordable. Numerous manufactures and wholesale sellers get them to be ready once ordered. The guidelines concerning Velcro Zips, zips, pads and pockets are stated along with the order.
Nightclothes / Nightwear
Nightwear consists of 2 garments: jacket type garment or pull-over for the top part of body and pyjamas. Both parts need to be compatible with each other in size, cuts, style, fabric, design, decorations and degree of finish. Relaxing and suitable fabric is considered the most important thing to check in the nightwear since these clothing are purchased for comfort and ease rather than for aesthetics.
Dos and don'ts of product selection
UK is the fashion mainland. Men and women here have high fashion sense and good purchasing powers, so there is nothing that could make them compromise on the cuts and types of superior fabric they'd like to wear. All these factors combine to make the UK a very profitable marketplace for clothing business. With such high demand for quality clothes, one could expect to jump in this business and start making good money. However, that of course is not the case. There are some very strict dos and don'ts when it comes to supplying and selling of clothes.
- Choose a particular niche.
- Research the recent trends and target seasonal clothes.
- The chosen outfits should be both fashionable and comfortable and compliment specific class or age group.
- Determine the budget and stay strictly within it.
- Communicate with the wholesaler or manufacturer, whom you are going to do business with, and make them understand your requirements.
- Whether you deal in sportswear, casual clothes, swimwear or formal ones, don't target everyone.
- If you sell in fashion clothes, don't ignore the designers' items. You can contact the designers yourself and convince them that you'll make the payment as soon as the stock sells out (you can also buy signature clothes in wholesale).
- When catering clothing needs of a certain class or age group of people, don't stick to certain type of clothing. Instead stock the dresses which compliment different occasions and purposes.
Know the customers
Selecting the brand or deciding upon a niche largely revolves around your targeted customers. Having a clear understanding of the needs of your targeted market ultimately gives you an upper hand in terms of business. Brands sell and they sell well, because people are ready to pay for quality. If you have the required expertise and the investment, you can start your own brand if you'd like, or you can play safe and start from selling someone else' brand.
Once you are settled on your target audience, the real work begins. Before starting any business, the most important thing is to select a product that you think will sell well. There are numerous brands in the market and you might have a certain liking for a certain name, but for your business, it is best to use a brand that is popular in the market.
In any case, there are two things you should do. You can start your own brand or you choose any of the existing brands.
Start your own brand
Starting a brand of your own can be a very profitable business but it also comes with high risks. Newcomers bring a whole lot of fresh ideas and new designs. Because of this reason, they stand a fair chance at finding a footing in the industry. If you have the expertise, passion, and of course fashion sense required to launch a brand of your own, and you do not shy away from hard work then you've got every reason to set foot in this type of business.
Choose the existing brand
The prospect of starting your own brand can be daunting for any newbie. In this case, there is always a safer way i.e. to sell a brand that is well established. There are several big brands in the UK market which are quite popular due to their high quality clothing and exceptional designs. Most of these brands have captured the larger chunk of market share. You can simply be a part of the chain, while doing so; you can also learn and grow with them.
Ensure brand consistency
Once you have chosen any of the above mentioned options, you need to ensure consistency. Consistency is an important part of successful management. Whatever method you choose, be sure to apply it consistently. Consistency means offering the same quality, and same clothing lines throughout the year.
Reassess your brand from time to time
Making the strategy or chalking out a plan is not necessary just in the beginning of business, it is equally important to keep revisiting the plan and to come up with new ideas. For this purpose, reassess your business and brand from time to time. It will help you in deciding whether you should move on with small changes or your business needs a complete overhaul.
After selecting your niche market in clothing line, the next step is product sourcing. Product sourcing is one of the most difficult tasks as the entire profit margin depends on it. There are different kinds of source from whom you can source clothing products.
Buying from wholesalers
Wholesalers buy products from manufacturers in bulk and store them in warehouse for reselling it to the retailers, distributors, and other suppliers. It is better for retailers to buy products, such as clothes, from the wholesalers who source them directly from the manufacturers as there will be no other intermediary involved and will cost less.
Buying from distributors
Distributors often operate on bigger scales than wholesalers. They deal in different lines of products and offer services like shipping, transportation and other value added services. Retailer can directly contact distributors and buy clothing products from them (of course if they are selling to retailers). The benefit of dealing with distributor is that he has his own transportation means so they can offer competitive rates.
Buying directly from manufacturers
Manufacturers only sell their products in large quantities and mainly to the distributors and wholesalers. High street and chain store retailers can also buy products direct from manufacturers, but in bulk of course. Buying directly from manufacturers could be more profitable if the retailer can stock and sell the product in the same season. Retailers sometime, buy huge stocks of goods and are later fail to sell it, and end up bearing more loss than they had expected.
Buying from ex-chain stores
Beside the typical sources like wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors, there are other entities who sell clothing products as surplus stocks, salvage merchandise and closeout products.
Surplus products are usually the cancelled orders, late deliveries and produced or supplied in excess quantity. The rates of such stock are very low and the quality is fine.
Salvage merchandise mainly is of three kinds; unclaimed freight, store returns and seasonal overstocks. If the buyer refuses to buy the shipment of products due to damaged goods, incomplete shipment, late delivery or incorrect lot then the lot is known as unclaimed freight. If the products are refused by the retailer due to any reason, they are called store returns. Seasonal overstocks are the leftover of seasonal merchandise.
The surplus stocks and salvage merchandise is then sold at Ex-chain Stores. There are different kinds of product qualities on ex-chain stores; some are damaged goods while others are totally new and branded. The catch in these products is that they are sold in big lots but on scrap rates, which are quite low from even wholesale rates.
Where to find?
Now the question is that where to get the information about wholesalers. There are various B2B platforms, paid directories, unpaid directories and yellow pages which provide extensive listing of different wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers and ex-chain stores. The listings of wholesalers and retailers available in free directories are not verified and while dealing with them could be risky. However, the premium networks like Final Wholesale offer listings of only genuine and verified clothing manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retailers, so it's a great place to start.
Verifying the suppliers and their businesses
Cheap prices and huge profit margins appeal everyone. Shoppers do stop by at the shops and places that offer discounted rates, but how safe is to buy stuff from such suppliers? It's a common thing that when we discover unbelievable low price, we start suspecting the quality and authenticity of the product, and mostly, these fears aren't wide off the mark.
Many so-called suppliers try to dodge the customers by taking advantage of anonymity through internet. Fake clothing suppliers have nothing to sell; they just own an attractive website. They publish fake pictures and extremely low rates to trap people. The most attractive feature of these websites is of course, the ridiculously low rate that succeeds in attracting, and deceiving a big number of innocent people who just couldn't find these items at such prices anywhere else.
While setting up a wholesale clothing business, you will be required to make a viable decision of choosing the right clothing supplier. For this purpose, one needs to go through a proper supplier verification process. There are two purposes behind this verification:
- To check the quality of clothing
- To check the legitimacy of your supplier
Some tips are given below which will help retailers verify the legitimacy of a supplier and determine quality of the goods they are going to buy.
Contact information of your supplier
Fake suppliers operate online. If you can't find any company's address and other contact information mentioned on the face of its website, do not take it for real. When you find address and contact details, you should make telephone calls and ask for certain details about the sort of clothes they are supplying, in fact make couple of calls from different ids and compare the information. Also don't forget to locate the supplier's address in yellow pages and also make sure the company's registered domain matches with the name of the contact person.
Scrutinize company's website
If you are a savvy internet user, you can easily detect a fake supplier by browsing his website. Normally such websites contain couple of pages and big claims and promises regarding quality, and cheap prices are highlighted on every page including the home page. Also, their content quality is either bad or plagiarized. On the other hand, a genuine supplier designs a good website which is rich in content and authentic in information. The legit websites have contact us page, about us page, separate products page and services page.
Moreover, dodgy websites have copied images. Last but not the least; you can also check the IP address of the supplier's company. You can contact any IP tracing company by spending a small amount and get the assurance if certain supplier is a legit one.
Demand references from your supplier
Never forget to ask for the references as this is the best way to validate the legitimacy of a supplier. For a genuine supplier providing references should not be a problem. On the other hand, fake supplier will hesitate to provide reference because they don't have any. While verifying the supplier you should also seek reference from their existing clients. The old clients can help you know if the supplier delivers the quality that they claim.
Participate in forums and read out reviews
There are many forums available online where traders discuss about prospects of dealing in certain products. These forums are a good way to interact with the people who are dealing in related businesses and have broader experience. You can start a thread on clothing suppliers and discuss the suppliers who have been unable to keep their words. Experts and experience people seen on these forums are particularly keen of sharing their experience.
Ask for samples
Samples reveal quality of clothing you are interested in buying. Suppliers ready to provide samples are often the genuine ones. Ask for the samples, even if you have to pay for them, as paying a little amount to procure samples is worth the investment. Use and test the sample, its fabric type, printing quality, colours and embroidery and if it passes, you can place your order.
If the supplier allows you to visit their store to verify the product quality, arrange a trip to his factory.
Your initial order should be small!
Sometimes, fake suppliers provide samples that surpass buyer's expectation of fabric, printing and colours and embroidery quality but receive poor quality stuff when they order in bulk. So, do not place large orders right away, especially when the suppliers refuse to send you a sample. Place order of small quantity in the first trial. This is a viable technique implied to reduce possible loss.
Though supplier verification process requires time, effort and some money, yet it is a must to avoid being scalped.
Things to lookout for while dealing with suppliers
Once you have taken care of the basics, all you need is to know what you need to watch out for while dealing with the suppliers.
Here is a list that we've compiled to help you pick a suitable supplier for your business.
The first and foremost important thing is the financial status of the supplier. A financially stable supplier can turn out to be a good business partner as he is less likely to fret over delayed payments than others. It is hard to get a deal on credit from a supplier who is having a hard time making his ends meet.
Quality and reliability
Reliability is the most important thing to lookout for. There are some telltale signs which you can use to gauge the reliability of just about any supplier.
Try and meet some of their customers if possible. See what their acquaintances have to say about them. Enter a contract only if you are satisfied with the outcome of your investigation. It is also wise to keep a constant quality check on the products supplied to you.
Value for money
Remember, price is not the only criterion to judge a supplier. The best value for money comes when a reliable source offers you a variety to choose from. In time delivery of the orders is also very important.
Customer care services
A good and friendly customer care staff speaks volumes about the supplier and the business per say. The best supplier remains in touch with you to anticipate and comply with the changing needs of his customers while always maintaining a friendly attitude.
Lead time & flexibility
There is no way of finding this before you have actually made an order. You can ask them though, but you can't just take their words for it.
First, place small and frequent orders in order to avoid docking too much capital. Note down the lead time. A good supplier will respond promptly and will also be flexible.
Price determination comes in the last place but it is the most important thing in any business. Statistics confirmed that in current fiscal year, the clothing prices in the UK have risen more than 3.5 percent. Therefore, the prices of entire clothing range have been altered.
Before considering any deal, it is advisable to survey the market and check prices from different suppliers. Price comparison should be the first priority of a retailer, as it can help to determine the reasonable price for reselling the products.
These days, there are many portals offering price comparison and one can compare prices of different products accordingly. While comparing prices, you should always take into accounts the minor fluctuations in prices. Always keep in mind that even a little difference in between buying and selling price can go a long way in determining your success.
It is also wise to consider bulk discounts, because many wholesalers offer discounts on large orders. Since you are dealing in clothing products, keep an eye on original branded products as well. Many wholesale suppliers say that they are offering original branded clothes but in reality, the products are replicas or cheap copies. Remember that you are not making the mistake of comparing prices of branded products with non-branded products.
The quality of clothing material is very important. Do not rely too much on the information on the tag. Get a good feel of the fabric to see if it is cotton, polyester, acrylic or something else. Online rates are mostly inflated but there are clothing suppliers who offer genuine rates, as compared to offline market rates.
After price comparison, it is time to get on table with the wholesaler to negotiate on price. Negotiation is an art, which is hard to master as it requires general knowledge, thorough information of facts and figures of clothing market and good communication skills. Never under estimate the other person, as experienced wholesalers are also good at negotiation and, of course selling.
Before going in for negotiation with a clothing wholesaler, you will have to do some homework. Study the current market trends of clothing products. You will have to stay informed on different varieties, qualities and demand of clothing products as these days the clothing prices are fluctuating quite frequently, due to fuel price hike and high tax rates. Also, you need to have an estimate of your budget like what is your buying price, at what price you can sell and the desired profit margins.
Going in negotiation
Negotiation is a quite complex communication process and requires both parties to find common grounds. That is why; good negotiators always adopt different strategies. They always tailor their approaches according to the situation.
While negotiating stay active, think smart, and show professional attitude. Ask different questions regarding the product, its quality, variety and prices according to quantity. These questions will help you assess the behaviour and attitude of wholesaler if he's sincere with you or not. Try not to tell the quantity you are going to buy in the beginning until you have noted down the prices.
Never let the negotiation process get heated up and try to keep it friendly. Do mention that you are looking for a long term business relationship. Wholesalers always prefer retailers with long term planning, so voicing your intentions can help you get a good discount.
Things to remember
While concluding the deal, it is better to confirm from the wholesalers if there are any additional charges. There are many kinds of hidden taxes, shipping costs and VAT which are generally not discussed in the meeting. The government has announced to increase the VAT on all clothing products and experts believe that VAT can increase price up to 20 percent.