Trends change quickly, making it difficult to know how much product to keep on hand, and getting rid of excess stock is difficult. The solution, of course, is to make sure your inventory matches the demand for your products. But how can you be sure your products will sell before you purchase your inventory?
Without a crystal ball, you can never know for sure, but there are some reliable ways to determine if your product will sell. Before you invest in new inventory, try these ideas to test the market.
Poll Potential Customers
Assuming you’ve done your share of market research by this point, you’ll know who your target customers are. Reach out and ask them about their willingness to purchase the product. If they are unwilling or unlikely, ask why. This is a crucial time to find out what might potentially keep your customers from buying your product, not after you’ve invested in inventory you can’t sell.
You probably know the demographic data of your potential customers, but what about more specific information that will enable you to tailor your products at your price point? Make your questions as straightforward as possible, and learn as much about the market and people as you can.
Some tips for efficient polling include:
- Keeping surveys short
- Be honest and accurate about the time required to complete a survey
- Make sure you’re polling valuable and relevant information
- Make surveys easy to complete
Looking for an easy way to poll the people who matter most? Check out PickFu, a platform made specifically for connecting you with your target audience so you can get real answers, real fast!
Check Out the Competition
What are your closest competitors selling? What can they sell on Walmart Marketplace? What’s left on their shelves? What did they misjudge that you can capitalize on?
Take notice of which products sell out quickly and which products end up on the clearance rack. Can you adjust your products to fit this trend? Even if you can’t adjust your current products, making this a regular habit will enable you to predict future sales trends better. Check out our previous article for more defining characteristics of successful fashion startups!
Try a Presale
To get customers to purchase your product sight unseen (or unproduced), you’ll need to have done your research on your target audience. They will need to see that their feedback from the surveys has been acknowledged and that you understand exactly what they want and are willing to pay for.
If your customers can trust that you will give them a product that meets their specific needs, you can get them to pre-purchase the product. Target the customers that participated in your surveys, if applicable, and show them how you’ve incorporated their feedback, and invite them to be one of the first to purchase a product they helped to design.
If your presale does not generate the number of sales you’d hoped for, you’ll need to continue adapting and revising your product before investing in any inventory.
Find a Balance
Finding out exactly what people want will help you to determine if your products will sell. Look for a perfect balance of the following:
- Why do people purchase products
- What do people need
- What will people pay for
So how do you find the balance? Let’s look at these three points in more detail.
1| Why Do People Purchase Products
When it comes to clothing, there are three main reasons why people will purchase the product. They either want to look better, they want to feel better, or they want to save time and improve their performance.
Chances are, your product fulfills one of those desires. So we can check that one off the list.
2| What Do People Need
Are your customers looking for functionality? Durability? Do they need to project a specific image? What are they looking for from your products? What will your products say about the customers that are wearing them?
3| What Will People Pay For
Even if you find a balance between what people need and why they purchase it, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t willing to pay for it. That crisp white shirt that makes them feel like management material that they can toss in the washer when they get home isn’t helpful if they aren’t willing to pay your asking price.
Where is the intersection between why people purchase, what they need, and what they are willing to pay for? Take your market research and find that spot. If you can, you’ll likely find your products will sell.
Take advantage of analytics and check to see what was searched for most frequently. Suppose you find that your product was searched for 1500 times last week, but only in one town in Alabama, which might not be great for your product. But if you find that no competitors are servicing Alabama for your product, you’ve found a gap in the market. No (or low) competition means a higher likelihood that your products will sell.
Make sure you also look into why no competitors are selling to that market already. Is it possible one of the overlaps is missing? Do the customers want the product but are unwilling to pay fair market value? Are they willing to pay, but the products that are being produced don’t meet their needs?
Why does this market gap exist? Once you determine this, you’ll be able to utilize it to your advantage.
While there is no way to wave a magic wand and know your products will sell before you invest in inventory, there are some tried methods that can help you make a more informed decision about how your merchandise will sell.
This is your dream. You’ve put in the work. You’ve done the research. Now use that research to predict the future of your product better. And when it finally comes time to invest in inventory, make sure you’ve read up on the manufacturing side of improving your clothing line.
If you utilize these methods, you’ll not only have a good idea of the saleability of your products, but you’ll also discover any potential issues, missteps, or concerns before you launch.
The real questions are: what do people want, and what are they willing to pay for it? If you can answer these questions accurately, you’ll feel much more confident knowing your products will sell before investing in your inventory.
So where should you start for quality market research?
The most reliable data comes straight from polling your target clients. Tapping into real responses from people who buy your products will eliminate guesswork and help you make solid decisions during product development. But if you haven’t invested in inventory, let alone launched your brand or developed a following, how do you access such a fundamental resource?
The PickFu platform bridges this gap brilliantly for new and established brands alike. Tap into their extensive network of real people all over the United States to get feedback within minutes on your most crucial questions. If you want to take our advice to heart and ensure you’re developing products that will sell, check out PickFu now and connect with your customer base before you ever commit to final inventory!