Saturday, July 20, 2013

Look Widely for Retailing Inspiration

A Wired posting last Thursday marveled at the innovativeness and courage of Hil Davis in finding and implementing a model for retailing: He didn’t set up for e-tailing. He didn’t open a bricks-and-mortar store. No, instead, J. Hilburn salespeople—or more accurately, J. Hilburn “Style Advisors”—go into shoppers’ homes.
     In doing this, Mr. Davis borrowed from the Tupperware business format, which built on the quality of the product. But this again evidenced courage, since the Tupperware model has gotten tattered over the years. Mr. Davis also showed innovativeness here because the in-home shoppers for Tupperware, Mary Kay, and Avon have been mostly women and often home shopping parties. J. Hilburn sells custom-tailored men’s shirts and accessories to one man at a time. As of this week, they’d sold 300,000 of them.
     Both male and female shoppers like their products and services personalized. But as a rule, women are more patient in having the personalizing done. A man’s willing to pay a premium price for a shirt when the shirt is built to his individual dimensions and the measurement comes to him. Most men hate shopping for clothing. Even the thought of clothes shopping gets men to become highly goal-directed.
     Like with other direct sales firms, J. Hilburn Style Advisors can increase their income by recruiting others to sell the merchandise. A difference is that J. Hilburn has set a maximum of five direct reports. This rule encourages an emphasis on quality over quantity in the salespeople.
     One takeaway is that face-to-face selling still thrives. Another is that looking and thinking widely for retailing inspiration can be highly profitable. In doing this, the central questions are why your model will work. Mr. Davis’s previous job was as a hedge fund manager analyzing the retail industry. To start, he figured that e-tailing wouldn’t work well for selling custom-made apparel because of the high costs of returns and remakes. He figured that selling clothing to men goes better with personal contact from somebody local. He figured that independent contractors would fit better than salaried salespeople. He figured he could do quite nicely without the expenses and commitments of bricks-and-mortar shops.
     Then, providing further evidence of the sort of innovativeness and courage which can serve you well, Mr. Davis changed his mind. There’s now a J. Hilburn e-commerce site and plenty of stores. The custom-fit concept was adapted into ready-to-wear “size buckets.”

Click below for more: 
Use Direct Sales Tactics with Men 
Bring It On Home

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