Business Management

2 Soft Questions that can Reveal Hard Truths of your Business

If you don’t know who you really are as a Fashion Company, your business decisions are not geared towards one direction in which you want your company to go. In my opinion, not knowing your core is often the source of all the confusion that makes you run around in different directions. With this post, let’s do a quick sanity check. I will ask you 2 soft questions. If you have clear answers, you can rest assured that you know your business to the core.  If not, your answers may help you know your company better and pick that one direction in which you want it to go.

Q1. What type of Fashion Company are you?

  • Are you a Fashion company/supplier?
  • Are you an E-commerce company? Or
  • Are you an E-commerce Fashion company? Or
  • Are you a Fashion E-commerce company?
  • Or an E-commerce company pretending to be fashion? Or Vice Versa?

This is a very generic and broad categorization. It’s not an exhaustive list of types of fashion companies. I am not talking about companies who are curators, affiliates or curator affiliates etc but the companies who take actual orders from their customers and get them shipped. Just to make sure, you understand each option completely, let me explain.

A) Fashion company / Supplier
You’re a Fashion company and you only design, manufacture and market for other retailers, wholesalers, online merchants, etc. You haven’t developed e-commerce as a sales channel yet.
Example: Small designers, manufacturers and bigger ones like Luxottica

B) E-commerce company
You’re not really a Fashion brand but an e-commerce company that sells exclusive and non-exclusive 3rd party brands through your website under your own brand name. This requires offering a convenience shopping model, which includes offering customers – bigger assortments, higher turnover (thinner margins) and faster delivery.
Example: Smaller, less known online fashion stores selling 3rd party brands and bigger players such as Amazon FashionZappos, etc would also fall under the same category. 

C) E-commerce Fashion company
You’re a Fashion brand first and then an e-commerce company. You don’t design/manufacture stuff but sell ‘exclusive’ fashion products sourced from other manufacturers/suppliers and sell them via Omni channels — physical retail, website, smartphones and other channels.
Example: NastyGalNet-a-porterASOS

D) Fashion E-commerce company
You catch the current trends or you start new trends, and design, manufacture, market exclusive / licensed products via. e-commerce, physical retail, wholesale and other channels.
Example: BurberryWarby ParkerBonobos etc.

While there are many ways to run your Fashion business, many Fashion & E-commerce companies start their business with an objective to be an ‘Omni-channel Fashion E-commerce company’.

Were you able to select a definitive answer as in A, B, C or D? Great. But knowing your business model is one thing. What’s also important is that you know —
Are you really acting like a company you want to be or you’re just pretending? This brings me to my next question will help you decide whether you’re really the company you think you’re.

Q2. Are you playing to your strengths?

  • You can’t call yourself a Fashion company if your strengths are not: Design, Manufacturing, Innovation, Logistics etc
  • You can’t call yourself an E-commerce company, if your strengths don’t include: Technology, Logistics, Assortment, Ease of use, Competitive Pricing etc.
  • You can’t call yourself an E-commerce fashion company or Fashion E-commerce company, if besides the above e-commerce skills, you don’t know Fashion (Design, Manufacturing, Sourcing, Cashing fashion trends, Innovation, Editorial etc as your company strengths.

There are many ways you can go about shaping the business model of your company but you need to develop required skills and strengths to actually be the kind of business you want to be. If you are an e-commerce company, don’t pretend to be a Fashion E-commerce Company. It won’t get you there. Instead, find people who know fashion. For example, hire graphic designers who know fashion, web designers who understand the rules of web designing in fashion, hire fashion copywriters instead of generic ones.

Or just work towards becoming an awesome e-commerce company; it’s better than being half-assed fashion e-commerce company.

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