Copying: When Retailers Copy Eachother

This will be my last post in me series on copying.  I hope this series has opened your eyes a bit to all sides of the issue.  I am happy to see it has created some great dialog.  This post is prompted by personal experience and I would love your feedback and stories on the issue as well.

Case #1:  When I started making clothing in Spring 2010 I was determined to start wholesaling immediately.  My goal was always to grow big not just stay as a small online shop.  I went door to door to shops all over Orange County introducing myself and my line.  I had a couple of stores pick up my line.  The third store was a darling store up the street from one of the other shops I sold to.  The shops were very different.  One was rockabilly, one was girly frilly.  I let them both know they were carrying my line but was sure to sell my edgy houndstooth patterned clothing to one store and my pretty florals to another.  The edgy store received their items first.  When the florals were ready for the frilly store they refused to take delivery because the store down the street already had my line.  Now I do think this is more about cash flow for the store than an actual copying issue but none the less that was the excuse.

Case #2:  I have a fabulous client back east that orders regularly and places large orders.  She has a local store owner that approaches many of the brands she carries to place orders.  My client specifically asked me not to sell to this store.  I agreed.

Case #3  I have an excellent loyal client in Japan.  They found out I was selling to another Japan store and asked me to stop because it was creating competition for them because the other store was selling my items for less.  They actually asked I not sell to anyone on the online mall they are a part of (most of Japan sells on this site-think eBay).  The problem was the other store was placing very large orders.  Ultimatley I decided to sell to other Japan retailers.  I do however offer many custom options to my original client that I don’t offer other Japan stores to repay them for their long-term business.

Case #4:  I have a client in San Diego that asked me not to sell to other Sand Diego stores in a 5 mile radius of her store.  I agreed but she hasn’t ordered in a while.

This is a sticky subject.  In reality you want stores to copy each other and carry your line.  It’s the sole purpose of wholesale.  Getting your product in as many stores as possible.  However, if you are not careful you can upset clients and lose business.  I handle these situations on a case to case basis for my long term customers that I have personal relationships with.  I also handle this by having a 5 mile radius rule.  I don’t sell to stores that are in a 5 mile radius of other stores that carry my line.  If the store doesn’t order for the new season I no longer honor the radius.

How would you handle this?

next up:  Branding

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Copying: When Retailers Copy Eachother

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your 5 mile rule. What I have found is that if your product ends up being sold in boutiques too close to one another, you may ultimately end up shooting yourself in the foot. There needs to be a little exclusivity and buzz created about who carries your brand and you also need to be careful that your brand will be represented well in their retail location. In other words, you both need to be a good fit for each other.

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