Is it difficult to gain distribution access in the fashion retail industry?  

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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It can be difficult to gain distribution access in the fashion retail industry, especially if a company is a new player on the scene. They will have to work hard to establish business relationships in the fashion sector - relationships that more seasoned companies usually already have. Therefore, aside from designing and manufacturing their products, a company will have to devote significant time and resources to getting their name and products known by way of aggressive marketing initiatives.

The main challenge for a company is to strike while the iron's hot so-to-speak. In other words, they have to anticipate and catch, or start a fashion trend, and then create quality product in a timely fashion and get these products to market when consumers want them. Therefore, once the design phase is complete, the apparel maker must implement efficient manufacturing processes to get the product to market in time for the appropriate fashion season - before the trend and/or style becomes passé. They must take advantage of the small window of opportunity that's often available to fashion manufacturers and retailers.

When an apparel manufacturer does all of the above, they establish a reputation as a reliable product supplier. Fashion retailers take note of this and will call on the company in the future to satisfy their product needs. Of course, the products, while delivered timely, must be of acceptable quality - which is a whole other issue.

An apparel manufacturer should consider attending fashion trade shows where they can trumpet their products and services. Trade shows are excellent for face-to-face meetings with those in the industry. This is a quality way to build those all important relationships via networking with experienced professionals in the industry. In addition, these trade shows are a great forum for learning more about the fashion industry and how to navigate your way into more and more retailers' premises.

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