Cross-Selling in Apparel B2B and B2C
Why Focus on Cross-Selling |10 Tips for Cross-Selling Apparel Online |Four Tips for Cross-Selling Apparel in Retail Stores |Five Tips on How to Cross-Sell in B2B Wholesale |Cross-Selling in Apparel B2B and B2C With Apparel Solutions from FDM4
With competition increasing in the online marketplace, it’s critical that apparel companies, wholesalers and retailers find effective ways to turn consumer interest into a successful sale and successfully encourage buyers to purchase additional products relevant to their initial purchase. The ability to successfully cross-sell merchandise online is an essential skill within the apparel industry.
Consumers have nearly limitless options for shopping apparel, both in-store and online. To ensure that every visitor to your e-marketplace or brick and mortar store has the best chance of converting to a successful sale, cross-selling techniques should be appropriately applied. In this guide, we’ll discuss why all companies in the apparel industry should focus on cross-selling and how to do it successfully.
Why Focus on Cross-Selling
Businesses in all industries share a common goal — generate and continually increase their revenue stream. One cornerstone of this goal is the customer experience. As clients and consumers seek to secure their needs in a way that they believe is tangibly or intangibly beneficial, positive customer experiences can influence their buying habits. This is especially true when cross-selling techniques successfully present the buyer with products or services that align with their needs, behavior or demography. For the fashion industry and apparel industry, cross-selling is key.
We can define cross-selling as the method of selling related or complementary products to a customer who has already committed to purchasing a select item. Although this is not exclusive to the apparel and fashion industries, one example of cross-selling would be to encourage a buyer to purchase shoes, pants, and accessories that complement the shirt or blouse that they have decided to purchase. Another example would be to offer a warranty, service plan or insurance on an item they’ve selected for purchase.
However, cross-selling isn’t as simple as asking a customer to merely purchase another product, even if it’s relevant to their needs or buying trends. Some cross-selling strategies can translate into revenue growth while others are not applicable and can even place unwanted pressure on the buyer. Cross-selling should also not be confused with up-selling, which is the act of encouraging a buyer to purchase a more advanced, enhanced or expensive version of the product they’ve selected. Because of these pitfalls, understanding and applying appropriate cross-selling strategies is key.
10 Tips for Cross-Selling Apparel Online
Identifying cross-selling opportunities is key for those in the apparel and fashion industries. Once the opportunity has been identified in a way that positively impacts the customer experience, various cross-selling strategies should be used in B2B wholesale, in e-commerce marketplaces and in brick and mortar retail shops.
Brick and mortar retail spaces have some advantages that e-commerce websites do not. However, cross-selling on B2C sites is possible and quite effective when approached strategically. Although a physical sales associate is unable to assist the customer and attempt to cross-sell them, enterprise resource planning software and other resources for the apparel industry can be installed to help implement cross-selling strategies effectively. Consider these ten tips for cross-selling apparel in an online marketplace catering to B2C customers:
1. Remind Customers of Similar Products at the Conclusion of the Sale
The completion of a sale doesn’t necessarily mean that the transaction between buyer and seller is finalized. In fact, there is a unique opportunity to cross-sell specifically because this initial sale is finalized. At the conclusion of the sale, your e-commerce site can offer customers an exclusive discount code to be used within a set timeframe on a product that complements their purchase — for instance, a discount on socks relevant to their shoe purchase. You can also use their personal data to send them notifications regarding special offers.
2. Allow Shoppers to View What Other Customers Have Bought
One benefit of online retail is that a business can constantly expose the customer to other products without seeming overbearing. Some shoppers will follow the buying patterns of other customers, particularly if they are notified and shown what other customers have bought. You can entice these shoppers by notifying them about complementary or relevant products when they place an initial item in their shopping cart. This shows them which other items are available in a low-pressure approach, yet makes them consider “keeping up” with other buyers.
3. Offer Suggestions Relevant to Their Searches
Software such as apparel ERP (enterprise resource planning) software can track keywords and respond by sending customers suggestions for complementary items. For instance, this notification can act as a concierge of sorts offering accessories that complement the apparel that the customer has searched for. Instead of seeming like a forceful opportunity to sell, this passive notification conveniently suggests a relevant item that would logically be purchased with the initial item.
4. Use Limited-Time Offer Sales or Discounts for Existing Customers
Using your data that cites the success of prior cross-selling strategies, you can open up new pathways for cross-selling by offering discounts or special offers to existing customers. Existing customers are likely familiar with many items in your inventory and may jump at the opportunity to purchase one for a great price. Limited-time-only offers and tiered discounts create a sense of urgency, especially when the addition of a cross-sell item enables them to secure a larger discount.
5. Display Collections of Items to Showcase Relevant Products
Customers may want to engage with your website leisurely without necessarily being persuaded to buy — a virtual “just browsing.” While notifying buyers of similar items that other customers viewed is effective, you can also cater to their willingness to browse casually by showcasing products via images. For example, any images of people or mannequins displaying the main item can also display complementary items or relevant products. Although the main item is the customer’s primary interest, these images showcase multiple items in a natural way to pique customer interest.
6. Encourage New Business With Exclusive Savings
Existing customers may create a large portion of your sales, but your business should always be trying to convert a customer into a returning buyer. While memberships and loyalty programs are great for existing customers, you can make first-time customers feel immediately welcome and valued by extending exclusive savings. These could be instant discounts on their first order or a free gift with their purchase. You can also cross-sell by offering a promotion that gives a customer a discount on a product when they purchase a complementary item.
7. Identify Buying Trends Based on Price and Cross-Sell Implementation
As you evaluate and assess the success or lack of success of your cross-sell strategies, you must identify which price points and implementation points are working most effectively. Although many online shoppers do simply browse e-commerce sites to appreciate products without intending to make a purchase, many shoppers in the online marketplace know which product they want and how much they desire to spend. Consider whether your implementation strategies and price points are enticing them to buy or are deterring them because these items exceed their budget.
8. Diversify Cross-Selling Opportunities
Although you may not be able to put faces to customers and will need to rely on data alone to categorize your shoppers, you must still acknowledge that each visitor to your e-commerce site is unique. While some cross-selling initiatives such as exclusive discounts will be effective, other customers will require alternate forms of encouragement to consider purchasing additional items. Understand that a diverse approach to cross-selling is necessary to successfully cater to a diverse audience of buyers. This is especially true concerning the evolving trends in online shopping.
9. Limit Cross-Selling Opportunities
Not all opportunities to cross-sell should be used. As with any attempt to grow your revenue stream through customer engagement, knowing when it’s not appropriate to execute a cross-selling strategy is just as important as knowing when to employ one. Directing customers to relevant products or notifying them of complementary items too frequently can negatively impact their customer experience. Just as a physical customer may not want to be “sold” to, a virtual customer may want to shop digitally without being “disturbed” by excessive attempts for additional sales.
10. Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Above all, your cross-selling strategies should be just another example of the superior customer service your company can provide new and existing customers. Your supply chain management and product management teams should ensure that all items offered on your website, especially any cross-sell items that are listed with a special discount or offer, are available in inventory and ready to ship. Your customer service teams should also be prepared to assist shoppers through any hiccups or disputes they may have, so a positive customer experience is preserved.
Four Tips for Cross-Selling Apparel in Retail Stores
Cross-selling in the physical world has a number of potential advantages and pitfalls compared to cross-selling to customers online. There are opportunities for customers to abandon the sale if they aren’t receiving the customer experience they expect. Attempting to cross-sell naturally by understanding current trends, identifying the customer’s unique needs and creatively showcasing relevant items without seeming overbearing will enhance your success of cross-selling in physical retail spaces.
1. Conduct the Cross-Selling Conversation Naturally
The customer experience has a significant influence on in-person purchases. Cross-selling strategies must seek to enhance the customer experience. Strong cross-selling strategies like high-pressured sales tactics can deter customers from purchasing. Those who do not feel valued as individual patrons or believe the salespeople are solely focused on generating revenue may have a negative customer experience. Salespeople and businesses must learn to communicate naturally with consumers. Refrain from bombarding the customer with multiple options — instead, work suggestions naturally into the conversation that are relevant to their interests.
2. Understand Pairings, Trends and Relevant Items
The fashion industry is a multi-trillion global industry that directly impacts the apparel industry from textile manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers. With all business processes such as order management, production management and supply chain management effected by fashion industry trends, sales associates need to be constantly aware of the latest trends. Knowing which styles are current and which are outdated will enable apparel industry professionals and salespeople to suggest appropriate pairings for cross-selling.
3. Acknowledge the Customer’s Unique Needs
Although an understanding of fashion industry trends and your individual sales data is necessary, many customers may have a style preference that defies common trends. This means that some cross-selling strategies are not applicable to certain consumers. To increase the chances for a successful cross-sell, sales associates must listen to their new and existing customers to identify their unique desires. By listening to their opinions, acknowledging their wants and directing them to suggestions that align with their interests, they are more likely to purchase additional items.
4. Promote Cross-Selling Passively
One benefit of a brick and mortar store is that customers can engage in a full sensory experience. Unlike the digital marketplace where they can only view a photograph of a product and make decisions based on limited information, a physical shopping space allows them to view, touch and try on each product. Displays showcasing a collection of products that are relevant to one another give the buyer an opportunity to acknowledge why these items are grouped together, making it easier for sales associates to suggest the cross-sell.
Five Tips on How to Cross-Sell in B2B Wholesale
While private consumers will likely be purchasing a small selection of items for their own personal use, cross-selling between businesses involves much larger orders intended to boost the revenue stream of both parties. Although some of the cross-selling strategies are similar with B2B and B2C transactions, their approaches can differ slightly. Whether you work with a contract or on an as-needed basis, your sales team should take certain opportunities to enhance their cross-selling strategies to maximize the value of the deal and expand the relationship.
1. Treat the Client Like a Customer
All B2B wholesale clients should be treated as customers, which entails delivering a high level of customer service that goes beyond what your competitors are offering. You can use many of the tips for cross-selling in the retail space in the context of B2B wholesale — learn when to suggest cross-selling products at a natural and reasonable stage, promote these products passively by distributing newsletters or email blasts, understand how the current fashion industry trends could positively impact your client and acknowledge their unique needs to deliver customized service.
2. Place a Priority on Individual Portfolios
Depending on the number of wholesalers you work with and the individual terms of each, there may be small opportunities throughout the year for you to attempt a cross-selling strategy. For example, look into their purchase history from the year before to anticipate their future needs. You can also schedule touch-points with your clients quarterly or bi-annually to assess their needs.
3. Offer Incentives
Always look for financially stable ways to incentivize or offer added benefits to your clients, especially when you know they’re planning to continue doing business with you. For instance, offering special deals daily or weekly on top of wholesale discounts can build client loyalty and generate repeat business. You can also incentivize retailers by offering special prizes, bonuses or rewards for employees who cross-sell your product or customers who help generate interest in your product on social networks.
4. Track and Evaluate Cross-Selling Success
As you continue to grow your relationship with B2B wholesale clients, you’ll need to consistently monitor and asses the success of your cross-selling strategies. Evaluate your metrics throughout set times of the year, highlighting which cross-selling strategies have worked and which approaches have been unsuccessful. Take note not only of individual client successes and missed opportunities, but also any notable metrics associated with geographical regions, business units, periods of the year and other correlating factors. Deliver this data to your sales teams and help them plan accordingly.
5. Make Working Together Seamless
One hallmark of a positive customer experience is simplicity — customers seek to choose their product, purchase it quickly and leave the store or website hassle-free. Giving the same swift and convenient service to your wholesale clients improves their customer experience. Simplify their interactions with you by streamlining ordering, billing, shipping, delivery and returns as much as possible. Give them the power to communicate with your team, track their orders and raise concerns conveniently through a help desk or service portal to ensure they have a seamless experience.
Cross-Selling in Apparel B2B and B2C With Apparel Solutions From FDM4
Cross-selling strategies can grow your revenue from new and existing customers. All companies within the apparel industry need apparel ERP software that will enhance cross-selling strategies and promote a positive customer experience. FDM4’s apparel-based enterprise resource planning software is an end-to-end solution that streamlines and synchronizes your business processes to secure growth in your e-commerce marketplace.
When you place a dedicated focus on cross-selling in your online shop, you’ll notice a stronger connection between your strategies and the rate of your sales. The data gained from apparel ERP software enables you to understand your buying audience and cater your cross-selling strategies to their buying habits. Learn more about apparel solutions from FDM4 or request a live demo today.