Your decision to move forward with production for your line of apparel requires two important things: (a) money and (b) confidence that all of your inventory will sell. We suggest collecting pre-orders before you begin production. Pre-orders offer the opportunity to eliminate the brunt of your risk.
What is a pre-order? By definition, a pre-order refers to all orders taken prior to the start of apparel production. In other words, your clients pay you now for a product that they will receive post production. Additionally, you will only produce the quantity and sizes of the specific garments sold in advance.
Have you completed the necessary product development to bring you apparel idea to life? Are your final samples photographed and production ready?
Great! Here are 3 tips for successfully collecting pre-orders for your apparel line.
Competitive Fashion Photography
Fashion is a highly creative industry – don’t bypass putting the same amount of effort and creative direction into your brand photography, as you’ve put into your unique apparel designs. For social media, you will need intriguing and environmental imagery that captures the lifestyle of your brand. For eCommerce, you will need direct product shots which feature the important design details of each garment. The eCommerce standard includes one front, back, side, and a detail close-up of each product. Keep your photography affordable (or even free) by working with local area photography students, hair & make-up students, and aspiring models. Post TFP (trade for portfolio) ads at local art colleges, thru Craigslist gigs, ModelMayhem.com, or even local Facebook groups. Be very specific about the art direction of your photos, referencing imagery from successful, competing brands to emulate – these will be your “tear sheets” or collectively, your “mood board” to direct the photo team. Be picky – just because you don’t have a budget for these images, doesn’t mean the work can’t be beautiful! Set standards for your model type and photo quality. We think Maegan Tintari of the brand Love Maegan did a good job with her photography for The Shelby Dress.
Make Social Media A Priority
You’ve completed your product development and design. You have amazing photography to work with. Now, focus on maximizing your brand’s Social Media reach. Fashion is visual, therefore Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat are your best bets for utilizing branded imagery to drive pre-orders. Pick one or two of the aforementioned Social Media outlets to focus on. What outlets do your target competitors most use? Follow in their footsteps! To optimize Facebook, create a few targeted ad campaigns that link directly to your pre-order website. Each campaign should have a different image, with corresponding unique captions – these differences will help to test which type of ad is most successful. Do an initial round of test ad campaigns for a limited period of time, then analyze which ad drove the most impressions, click-throughs, and conversions. Facebook offers wonderful analytics to study your market. To optimize Instagram, treat the account as if you are building a portfolio or lookbook. It’s important to pay attention to the details of each image posted, but all of the images must also set together as a curated collection of imagery. Tell the story of your brand identity while pitching your pre-orders every 3 – 7 images. Don’t just flood your feed with the sales pitch – tell a visually intriguing brand story. Regardless of the social media channel, the goal is to reduce the number of clicks necessary to complete an order. The more clicks required to purchase will result in lower conversion rates.
Create A Sense Of Pre-Order Urgency
Time is of the essence! There’s a reason why the early bird special has been popularized on Kickstarter. Give your potential customers a reason to act immediately. Limit your pre-order campaign to no more than 4 weeks – in our experience 2-3 weeks is the sweet spot. Additionally, consider if there is an extra incentive you could offer to each customer who places a pre-order. Limited edition garment details, thank-you cards, branded gifts with purchase, a flash sale coupon code, special discounts for the first 3 purchases…the incentive options are limitless.
Remember, your pre-order campaign successes can also drive an increase in your wholesale accounts. Use the data collected from your pre-order efforts online to pitch your collection to buyers. Buyers must avoid any potential for excess inventory, and they require assurance that your products will sell through. If you time your pre-order Campaign accurately, you could take pre-orders direct from the consumer and combine them with orders from your wholesale accounts. The ideal scenario is you have all production units sold before you even begin production with your manufacturer.
Finally, sleep well knowing that you paid for your apparel production directly through committed, customer demand.
Ready to start your own production? Sign up for our free Production 101 e-course.