To those suppliers who have somehow missed the memo again, here’s a gentle reminder from none other than Wedding Trader’s Laura Daly that it’s never too late to cross over from the dark side…
For many years now, we, the vast majority of UK bridal retailers (being of sound mind* and business practice) have been adhering to pricing formulas that more or less allow us to cover our operating costs and settle our invoices. On a really good month, we may even generate a profit. We don’t all use the same formula and we don’t all have the same overheads but if, after the past few years, we are still here and trading, then please understand that we have worked out what we need to take and what we need to make in order to keep solvent.
Even for long-established businesses with admirable reputations, independent bridal retailing is hard work for a modest return, and I doubt there are many who would claim to anything much more than simply keeping solvent.
We understand that, occasionally, wholesale prices will rise. Obviously, if the cost of raw materials and manpower increases, then so does that of the end product and this needs to be reflected in the retail price.
If next season’s designs are going to cost more to produce, please don’t suggest we adjust our margins downward in order to maintain your product’s appeal to the consumer. Our mark-up formula has to remain the same. Ultimately, of course, the consumer will decide whether or not any product is worth the price tag. In the meantime, the retailer needs to decide if there is any likelihood of the product selling at the correct mark-up and if the investment is a risk worth taking. If we decide against investing because we think it is unlikely to sell at the price we would need to set, then we understand that you may wish to offer it elsewhere. However, we should not be threatened with the prospect of all outstanding dress orders being delivered and invoiced together or much earlier than would otherwise have been the case.
If our trading history with you has been good, kindly allow us the common courtesy of continuing to take delivery of the outstanding gowns as and when they are ready, and to settle our invoices in the normal time frame.
When it comes to the bottom line, we have very little wiggle room. If you choose to change your procedures and start sending out gowns unchecked and unpressed, please bear in mind that we need to factor in time and staff to do those jobs. Extra costs to add to the price of each gown.
If you really want to help your retailers, please stop producing 40+ dresses twice a year and insisting on minimum orders. Why on earth is there any need for more than one collection a year? I guess it can only be to boost sample sales but I’d be happy to hear any alternative arguments in favour.
It would be very helpful also to better synchronise discontinuations with the buying season and allow us to know what’s becoming obsolete before we need to buy our new stock. Issuing a long discontinuation list a month after the biggest buying date in the UK calendar is not only extremely frustrating but also mind-bogglingly thoughtless. It leads to an imbalance of styles and sizes on our rails. You will make more money from us if you help us to service our brides correctly.
There are some great suppliers out there; working with, rather than against, retailers, listening to our opinions and being genuinely helpful. If there’s a problem, they want to hear about it. If something’s not working, they want to know why, and what they can do to improve it. They don’t just open another account in a shop up the road and hope that’ll turn out better. They’re the good guys. Make sure you’re one of the good guys. Come on… it’s not too late… you can do it!
*’sound mind’ may be something of a moot point…