Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Apparel Sales Mystery To Most Shops

The last few weeks I've had to learn a lot about apparel. I'm actually having to read and ask questions, sometimes I feel like I'm in chemistry class again and some concepts have to be repeated two or three times. My whole life I thought leather was the best material. I mean who doesn't feel safe wearing a nice black leather jacket? The differences between one material and another are incredible, but beyond that the fact that the majority of stores I talk to don't have clothing is even more incredible.

Some store managers are pretty honest and just say "I put a catalog on the counter and they can order from there." Forget about the fact that half the customers will go home, shop online and buy it from an online retailer or the other half will go to another store. The truth is most motorcycle store owners have never had to work in a Sears or Macy's giving them the understanding of how apparel works. Because of that they don't invest in training their staff to understand apparel.

Apparel is a great conversation piece. Customers come for the experience ( see my previous blog entry ) this is part of that. Give them a D30 Presentation like this one and you might get a sale. Follow Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6gT3IfjfUc

That conversation piece can lead to more sales and will keep the client coming back to the shop which falls on that whole "Create a Destination" talk I've been giving.

For years Americans have had limited choices and there are some great brands out there, but I don't feel many of them are geared towards "scooter riders." Big Four stores sometimes have a Dianese or Alpine jacket, but thats not a scooter jacket. Even shops that carry one or two pieces of imported Tucono Urbano, or stock a Corazzo jacket and aren't properly displaying these brands. I can say this with all honesty because I do visit about a 100 stores a year. Now that we are representing Armadillo in the US as their partner I see all the issues this side of the business has. It's like you don't notice how many yellow cars there are until you drive a yellow car well same thing here. I have to start talking about Apparel because half of what I do is helping stores stay in busines and create profit centers. Regardless of the brand you carry you should follow some key rules.

You always have space.
I hear stores say lack of space is the number 1 reason. We'll guess what, getting rid of 1 scooter could double your accessories income, put up a rack and a mirror no excuses.

Lack of Funds.
Same as above. Instead of buying one more $500 cheap scooter that equals 4 jackets and some helmets. The mirror will cost you $40 a Home Depot.

My Customers don't buy that stuff.
Wrong, your customers are buying it from someone else. You have to take a leap of faith when it comes to clothing. Yes, it's true its complicated if you have different weather patterns so you might need some winter and summer jackets, but your store will benefit and you can always use the catalog if you actually have something for them to see. The catalog only works in Candyland, in America customers want to walk in to the store and touch, feel, smell sometimes the jacket. Like in Best Buy, the floor samples help make the sale. Sam Walton realized that a long time ago so unless you're in the business of being a small shop forever you have to think big, think apparel.

How do you know it sells?

Very simple - Apparel is the fastest growing side of the scooter and powersports industry. Simply put stores that stock will sell. If you don't have any women's jackets don't expect to sell from that catalog on the counter. When you pick up an Armadillo Hoodie and try it on for the first time there is nothing like it. I heard Steve Guzman talk about the Armadillo Hoodie over a year ago and I thought "Meh" another jacket. Yeah, I was wrong. You put that Hoodie on and you totally feel like a badass. Now anyone who had ever riden a bike has fallen. I fell at 6 on an ATC Honda 70cc and broke a leg, at 17 I was riding a 49cc Grey Market Suzuki Love going 60mph in the rain and fell, I remember crashing my YSR 70 on a main road at 18, we all have these memories, but what I remember most is that each time I had a jacket on. The hoodie is in no way a jacket or half as thick as the jackets I wore in those accidents, but I feel like it could take it. Check out Steves Review here at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz5xgPlwR4Q

Great video huh, leave it to Steve to point something out that in the end was pretty obvious. Hands down the Armadillo Hoodie is pretty sweet. I've been wearing it non-stop since the Dealer Expo and even in Florida people ask me what am I wearing when I go out.

Back to Apparel you don't have to take my word for it. If you're unsure of what to do in the apparel side of the business the best thing to do is talk to a woman. See women are the fastest growing side of the business. There are some great choices out there and I'm encouraged to see companies like GoGo Gear showing up because they are making some nice stuff geared towards women. Armadillo also has a womens line which is difficult to keep in stock.

Picture with Arlene president of GoGo Girls LA -

So if you're a shop owner ( and 90% of the ones I know are men ) go ahead grab your wife or girlfriend and head to the local mall. Take a cue from the shops on how to properly display items. Not every scooter shop can afford a retailing specialist but a couple of displays instead of buying 2 more Chinese scooters could help give your store the edge it needs. I see all these small dealers making the same mistakes over and over like picking up 9 brands and not properly representing any of them or investing in more units than they need. For the same amount of money you can buy a rack, a mannequin, and a mirror. That's all you need to sell jackets. Scooter Apparel is not that expensive between $100 and $400 so it's affordable and an easy sell to a client. Customers want these products and they will seek them out, so if you're reading this and say "oh that will never work in my little town" don't worry those clients are going somewhere else and you my friend are loosing some business.

Apparel is extremely profitable when done right. Cycle Gear has 150 stores across the United States and they sell only apparel and helmets. Most scooter store operators have one location, and 90% have no apparel or it consists of two or three jackets. See my point?

For some clothing ideas follow the link

Here are some ideas for displaying helmets and apparel.

For more info visit us at MRP or shoot me an email.

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