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To make perfectly clear the limits
of the relationship established with
the point of sale, some stores, as a
mode of protection, include penal-
ization clauses in contracts in case
some aspect of the negotiated servic-
es is not fulfilled. Retailers tend to be
very demanding with delivery dates,
to the extent that some may even
end up penalizing the designer with
charges or cancelling the order alto-
gether. The first kind of penalization is
serious since the more charges means
the less the profit margins. But the
second is even more grave as it entails
the return of the entire order, with the
consequent difficulty of replacement
and the likely loss of a client.
There also are stores that stipulate
profit guarantees in the contract,
which means if they do not sell a
certain percentage of the collection—
quite high, between 60 percent and
70 percent—a penalty charge will be
exacted on the designer, who, in
this case, finds herself in a dilemma:
rejecting the charge means losing
a client while accepting it entails
assuming the risk. It is advisable to
accept the charge, under the con-
dition that the merchant promises
to make purchases during a certain
number of seasons. In this way, one
assumes the risk of being penalized
and earning less if expectations are
not met, but point-of-sale continuity is
guaranteed for the mid-term.
Once the sales are secured, two paral-
lel processes begin: production of the
collection and conception and design
of the collection for the upcoming
season. Before this last process, it is
advisable to reflect on how sales went
and to what degree the collection was
a success. In addition, it is a good
idea to evaluate and assess criticism
and other impressions received, all
with the aim of determining if one is
moving in the right direction, whether
modifications are necessary, how to
improve, and what needs to be made
stronger. For this, sales figures are
not enough, and the comments of
clients are essential. This information
will ultimately come in the form of
returns, stocks, and complaints.
DISTRIBUTION
The objective of designers and brands,
the same as anybody who introduces
a product into the market, is to reach
the consumer. Having a superb col-
lection with the best fabrics, impec-
cable tailoring, and an unbeatable
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quality-price ratio is of little use if the
collection never makes it out of the
warehouse. Fashion has a very short
shelf life.
Nowadays, the store is the place where
designers and brands concentrate all
their sales strategies, as it represents
the initial contact with the consumer;
for this reason it is imperative to
control positioning from the start. It
is not enough to place the collection
in the establishment and sell it; one
must convince consumers to return
and buy again. As a result big-name
brands go out of their way to control
distribution to stores, genuine temples
in which the goal is not merely making
sales but converting the consumer
into an adherent of the brand. Spaces
are conceived and designed to provide
the visitor with an experience. They
are places that seduce and excite,
and where one’s guide books recom-
mend visiting—places that tell stories.
The consumer is interested in a store
where she feels comfortable, that is,
one that meets her expectations, both
emotionally and in terms of service.
In this light, distribution has become
essential to the definition of the iden-
tity of a brand.
A term much in use today in dis-
tribution is “concept store”: stores
that are a brand in themselves and
whose strategy is conceived with
this in mind. A product that wants to
SALES AND DISTRIBUTION
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