With so much uncertainty currently circulating about how businesses will be affected due to the rise of COVID-19, we've been going live over on our Instagram multiple times a week to answer all of your burning questions about e-commerce and how we're managing our work processes over this period.
Are you a budding entrepreneur wanting to know whether now is the time to create that online clothing brand you've been dreaming about for months?
Or maybe you're a current client wanting to know whether the time is right to launch your business that's just finished in production?
Tune into our COVID-19 blog - where we provide real-time updates in Q&A format on how we're dealing with business over this period and answer questions all the way from e-comm, production and distribution, to staffing and starting or building a brand over this period.
Q. Should I start a brand now, even with the crisis our world is facing?
A. It’s important to think about how businesses and industries will look when all of this passes. This is a great time to learn the foundations of building an online business.
E-commerce brands are seeing the rewards of selling online during this period, and this could be your chance to leverage off the opportunity to get a six-month head start on competitors.
Many of the largest brands in the world right now are focused around selling their products through retail channels and are suffering – so why not use this opportunity as an advantage?
Online advertising is also drastically cheaper as less and less people are investing in advertising online.
It’s important to understand that building a brand takes time, and you need to think about where shoppers will be in 6-9 months, because that’s when your brand would be ready if you started now. You need to also consider that in 6-9 months the entire landscape for how we sell products is also going to shift and change the game for bricks-and-mortar business. Online may very well overtake bricks-and-mortar.
Many of the largest companies in the world (such as Uber) developed their business during the GFC of 2008. The best time to start was yesterday and the second-best time to start is today.
It’s also important to safe-guard yourself and ensure you’re not in a position without an online income in 6-9 months. If a crisis like this ever happens again and you’ve got an online business you’ll be in a great position.
Q. What can existing brands do to sell during this time?
A. For existing brands it’s a great time to consider having a flexible policy and things like free returns, to encourage consumers to shop with you.
It’s also a great time to experiment with your website and think about adding things such as product videos to allow consumers to visualise how the clothing will look on them.
Because the Australian dollar is quite weak currently it’s also a great time to be targeting international consumers through online marketing – which has drastically dropped in spend due to the crisis. The U.S. market is in the best position right now – products are really cheap for US customers.
Think about different ways to mix up your content for social – do video hauls, experiment with influencer marketing and video feed content – jump on platforms such as TikTok.
It’s also a great time to try new marketplaces and audiences.
Q. What strategies can I use to sell my products online right now?
A. You need to ensure you’re thinking about your customer’s current situation – you should be asking yourself whether your price points hit all of their income levels.
Consumers may have less money to spend online, so you need to ensure you have some products at a lower price point to ensure they’re accessible to your community. You don’t need to necessarily go on sale, just ensure you have lower priced items.
Q. How do you keep a positive mindset during these times?
A. It’s important to protect your own mindset and mental health, and ensure you have the right type of mindset to make decisions for your business – this means taking time for you. Remember, we will recover it’s just a matter of when.
Q. Is now a good time to launch if I haven’t launched my brand yet?
A. If you haven’t launched yet this is a great time to be creating content to test whether your audience is engaged enough to launch. If you haven’t yet got engagement use this as an opportunity to connect with your audience and encourage conversation – be vulnerable and tell them why it’s a difficult time and share with them your ‘why’ and purpose.
Be authentic and share with them the process and struggles - people engage with authenticity. If you haven’t got followers yet, now is the time to focus on building and engaging with the people who are your target audience.
Q. What are you doing to look after your staff?
A. As a company, our priority is to ensure we keep all staff in jobs throughout this tough time. We haven’t let anyone go yet due to the pandemic - our entire team is still here.
We have many staff working off-site who have to travel a long distance to get to work. The people that are here in the office are coming in on a rotating roster and we are complying with strict government hygiene standards in the office and our factories.
The people here at Slyletica today are key to the success of our brands and we have a commitment to keep everyone in a job.
Q. How much investment do I need to start a brand with Slyletica?
A. At Slyletica we don’t offer a drop-shipping model. We only create bespoke and custom-made products, and only manufacture them unique for each brand. If you’re looking at creating a long-term brand which builds over time and not just looking for a quick buck, we recommend you look at designing first and learn to understand your customers.
Once you’ve created the designs we can give you a PPC (Per Product Cost) and MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). You’ll find you usually need between $15,000 and $25,000 from an inventory perspective. You also need to ensure you have a budget for marketing the brand as well as fulfilment. The $20,000 mark is what we recommend.
Q. Will COVID 19 affect online sales for my business?
A. Having an online business at this time is what’s going to save a lot of people because it means you can sell to anyone in the world, as well as having the ability to market or target your product to anyone. Retail is hurting the most, however e-commerce and online sales are increasing the most because there are people at home, scrolling, wanting to buy.
Making an online income anytime, anywhere is powerful, and something you can be doing right now to ensure you’re set up for the future. Now is the time to spend money on marketing – it’s the time to expand. It might cost you more to make a sale online, but it’s because people are doing it and e-commerce is booming.
Q. How important is pricing right now?
A. Online sales are about building a community. It’s not about ‘going on sale’, it’s about finding out what your customers need and how you can serve them.
Feel free to try things like going live and having a chat to your customers. There are lots of people going on sale, but there are also people not going on sale and seeing the same sell-through rate.
If you have a brand which is already online, spend on marketing, attract new clients and test new audiences. Most people are at home at the moment and looking for things to do.
Q. Should I go into the manufacturing stage right now?
A. Building a brand can take 6-9 months and sometimes longer with custom fabrics. If it seems really scary and like it’s not the time to sell a product, you can push it back for a week or two. When you’ve got your stock you can be in control of when you press go.
The worst thing to do would be to not start and decide you’re ready in 6 months and then it takes another 6-9 months. You don’t want to be months behind, you want to be months ahead.
Q. Are your factories in China still operating?
A. Our factories in China are back up and running and are at 90% capacity – they acted really quickly over in China to mitigate the challenges they were facing and are fully operational.
We’re starting to see products dispatched out of China completely safely, and are working closely with our manufacturing partners to insure they’re following the strict guidelines outlined by our government and all international governments they need to comply with. We also don’t just manufacture in China to ensure we are in a safe position.
Q. What about if I don’t have a brand right now?
A. The important thing to remember is this is going to pass. It’s super important that you understand the decisions you make today are going to show up and the results will be 6-9 months from now.
Q. What if I’m already building a brand? Should I press pause?
A. The biggest challenge we are currently facing with fashion as a nation, is shipping goods out of China, as pilots need to quarantine for two weeks, so we’re seeing a limited capacity at getting stock out of there. A reason to work with us, is we mitigate those risks – we’re pre-booking a great deal of space on airlines based on what we’re forecasting to be ready at those times and to insure we get as much stock out as we can. If you are in production with Slyletica you have nothing to worry about there.
Q. If Australia goes into lock down will my brand be put on hold?
A. The beauty of the way our business model is set up is everything can be done online or working from home, which means regardless of lock down, whether we’re in the office or at home, we’re fully operational and it will be business as usual. If there are any disruptions to fulfilment centres, we will keep everyone posted. We are a fashion brand which has technology at the core of our business, so every part of our business can be done remotely.
Q. Does Slyletica do drop-shipping?
A. We do not do drop-shipping as it’s usually a bad experience for the end customer. Our business is centred around creating bespoke items of clothing and once we have stock inventory, we will get it to the customer within 1-3 business days, as opposed to 6-12 weeks (with a model of drop shipping).
Q. Can I put my payment to Slyletica on hold to deal with the crisis first?
A. You can do whatever you feel like is the best for you. However, we don’t recommend putting a payment on hold. If you have reservations about making a payment, we are able to make some plans to assist you on a cash-flow perspective.
Q. What’s your advice to people who are building a brand, but have successful careers during this time? What can we be doing?
A. If you’re in a position where you work is increasing and not decreasing, it’s a great idea to build the designs for your brand and sample products in the background, and wait for the best time to launch. This process can take an extended period of time.
Q. How many runs do you recommend a brand do every 12 months?
A. We recommend at least two if not four runs. We ideally want to build core collections – something you’ll continue to drop, as well as indent ranges – cool things which come out every now and then, and are a bit more fashion forward.
Have you got a question which hasn't been answered? Turn on notifications for our Instagram here to find out when we're next going live and ask our CEO Simon Rawadi in real time, or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.