A few weeks ago, we shared our 5 Signs Your Off-Price Business Is Inefficient blog post. You’ve since looked at your processes and realized you do in fact have an opportunity - perhaps a more accurate, real-time view of inventory or actionable insights about optimal product mixes to sell to your customers. Ok, so now what?
This post, the second in a three-part series, will help you on the next step of the journey. We provide a roadmap detailing how to make the best choice for your off-price business.
Do Your Homework
In order to position yourself to make an informed decision, you must do your homework in advance. Here, we outline three concrete steps you can take before engaging with potential off-price solutions to make sure that once you do begin these conversations, you’re able to stay on track:
- First, prioritize your needs. Upon introspection, you’ve probably discovered that various stakeholders in your organization likely have different perspectives on which needs should be prioritized. Is your primary goal to streamline operational workflows, go to market faster, or are you most focused on improving margins? When you are inevitably faced with tradeoffs, you should be clear on your relative priorities.
- Second, know how much your company is willing to spend. This may seem obvious, but the topic often goes without conversation until a contract is put on the table. It’s critical to have this conversation before engaging with potential providers. In your reflections, think about ROI as both the “Return On Investment” and the “Risk Of Ignoring”. How much time and resources will it cost your organization if you don’t leverage a technology solution to manage your off-price business? If you’re unsure, ask your potential providers if they are willing to do an ROI analysis or assessment to evaluate how your off-price business will improve when using their solution.
- Lastly, prepare a list of questions to ensure you conduct thorough research. Is there any integration involved, and if so, will integration with your existing platforms be cumbersome? What about your data—how will it be managed and what assurances can they give about your privacy and brand protection? In addition, ask questions about their current client base and how they’ve helped these businesses achieve success in the past. Ultimately, you need to make sure you understand if their offering just addresses a narrow element of your processes, or takes a holistic view of your off-price business.
Sure, it’s important to select the product that best meets your needs and generates the largest ROI, but what about your account management team? In B2B and off-price, relationships are everything. And given the dramatic transformation you are seeking, it’s important to understand who they are, and what the relationship will be like before committing to a contract. Do your contacts on the sales team intend to close the deal and disappear? Or will they be partners who will ensure a smooth onboarding process? And even after you ramp up, will the solution provider’s account management team be truly invested in your ongoing success?
We outline three ways you can feel confident about the ongoing relationship:
- First, learn about the company’s DNA. Understand their origins as a business and their own vision for the future. Then take note of the account management team that might partner with you. Do they have industry expertise with off-price? Will they be strategic partners in strengthening your buyer relationships and curating targeted offers when you go to market? It is a positive sign if your sales contact proactively introduces you to colleagues who would support you on an ongoing basis. And note the rapport between these functions. If they’re hand-in-glove in tending to your needs, it is a strong indicator of the relationship to come.
- Second, observe the type of questions your contact asks OF YOU - and how they listen to your answers. Be encouraged by thoughtful research and questions, and if they seek to learn about your company’s unique vision and off-price strategies. Once they have an understanding of your needs, do they cater a solution to those pain points? There will likely be several exchanges as you work to refine a solution. Are they receptive to feedback throughout the process or express frustration when you run into hurdles?
- Lastly, talk to references. Who better to speak to the strength of a partnership than current clients? If connected to a current client, be prepared with targeted questions so you can extract insights from their experiences. Be sure to ask the nature of the partnership, and how they have achieved tangible success immediately as well as on an ongoing basis.
With these insights, you’re now equipped to choose the right solution to optimize your off-price business. Stay tuned for our next and final post in this three-part series, in which we’ll explore how to optimize your new technology solution.
Are you in need of a trusted partner to help transform your off-price business? Founded by experts in marketplace efficiency and funded by giants of fashion and retail, INTURN’s knowledge, expertise, and technology can help bring efficiencies to your off-price business.
With INTURN, brands have increased their margins up to 85% and reduced overall transaction times by up to 88%. Want to learn how your organization can capture its share of the $1.5 trillion off-price market? Get in touch.