London, Paris, New Delhi, Tokyo and Buenos Aires are just a few cities independent retailers may want to visit to source their assortment plans. Many store owners ask themselves how to do this? If you want to source products internationally, this is the blog to read.
First off, what types of products are you trying to source? High-end luxury products? Perhaps with the Italian brand? Cheaper, but ethnic products? Furniture or jewellery? This will help narrow down where you need to look to. In this blog, we will focus on fashion products, like garments and accessories.
There are a variety of markets a buyer can start at, including central markets, merchandise marts and trade shows. Central markets are where there are multiple venders, like the Garment District in NYC, the hub of fashion in the US. Merchandise marts are where multiple vendors are in one stop, and buyers can see a variety of products at different prices in one spot, marts allow for more frequent trips. Tradeshows highlight the newest products and can create a significant buzz around new products, CES is an example for technology products. Tradeshows give buyers insight into new trends, can browse pricing and products and place orders.
How often do you do market visits? The answer is, it depends. For fashion products, buyers need to go more frequently because trends are always changing. Cosmetics and furniture buyers can manage on going once or twice a year.
Before going on a market trip a merchandising buying plan needs to be completed with a vendor analysis (i.e. how much money do you have and for what and who are you looking to buy from?). Make sure you get approval and feedback on your assortment plan ideas, to get more support from sales associates and staff. If possible, schedule buying visits with vendors, associations and see if there are any tradeshows happening. Determine how many days it will make, and make sure your store is equipped to survive without you.
Virtual marketplaces continue to pop-up like Modalyst and Joia Accessories that make it easier for retailers to buy products at wholesale and see them without leaving home. This really is the future of retailing.
So where do you want to go? Shopping in Nepal? Check out Thamel for conventional products and Patan for Fair Trade products.