Michelle Krol, Executive Vice President of Ecco, talks about how to choose shoes for a multi-brand, how much you need to spend on promotion, and when you need to educate sellers. He also shares other rules of the shoe business, which he derived based on his 30 years of experience.
«The main thing in choosing shoes is to learn to turn off your personal taste and think only about the buyer. And do not purchase many similar models. This is especially important if you work in a multi-brand store. Understand the philosophy of each brand, feel its DNA and, guided by this understanding, choose only the most successful and strongest models in the collection of each brand. ”
“When I worked as a buyer, on an ongoing basis I worked with a number of factories. But at exhibitions, I tried to get acquainted with other manufacturers to find out what new they offer. If you want to navigate the industry and understand what is happening with the market, communicate with different companies and manufacturers. ”
«Our business is largely dependent on external factors. From the country's economy, fashion and even the weather. But never think that you can’t influence sales. I constantly tell myself and my colleagues that our company always has the opportunity to increase turnover or find a new way to advance. Even in situations that are unfavorable at first glance. For example, some companies believe that online trading threatens their traditional stores. But I do not see this as a threat, but an opportunity for the development of personal sales. People continue to go to the stores, not only because they like the brand or its collections, but also because they want to talk, consult with the seller and fully experience the buying process. ”
“Another thing I realized about sales is not to look for easy ways. Some companies are abusing price cuts, but this is the road to nowhere. For high sales to be stable, you need to use more robust strategies. In particular, establish contact with your customer. ”
«Everything that a company does to promote products and a brand should attract people. And not only those who are already a buyer, but also those who can only become one. For example, at Ecco we organize music festivals and other events that are not directly related to lower prices. They can cost us dearly, but it is a good investment in the future. A truly loyal customer is more expensive. ”
“A loyal customer card helps to better understand the consumer, his lifestyle and personal interests. And first of all, the company itself needs it. That's why I don’t like the strategy of some brands that issue a loyalty card only after the fifth or tenth purchase. ”
“After you have gained access to your customer - using a regular customer’s card or in another way - do not frighten him with your pressure. First, start with an offer to subscribe to the news, then ask him to tell you a little about his interests, and then use other opportunities. But do not offer him to do all this at once. ”
“The ways of promotion can be compared with fashion: they change just as quickly. And it’s very important to constantly keep abreast of technology and connect to new channels of communication with your customer on time. ”
“In general, at least 6% of the turnover must be spent on brand and store promotion. How to distribute this budget between advertising points of sale and spending on brand image is a matter of choice in each individual case, but 6% is a working minimum for any company. ”
«The company must understand well what effect it expects from brand positioning. And already relying on this knowledge, choose places and methods of sales. In other words, the concept of sales must fully coincide with the concept of positioning. For example, if a brand wants to be modern in the eyes of the buyer, its products should be sold in places consistent with this concept. Sellers in the stores of this brand should communicate with visitors in a modern way, and promotion specialists should choose the appropriate communication channels with the audience - social networks, mobile applications and creative events. Of course, all this is relevant for a company whose positioning concept is based on the concept of modernity. Brands that are based on traditional values or on the concept of accessibility should choose the appropriate points of sale, information channels and the style of communication with the buyer. ”
«There are several ways to find out the tastes of your target consumer. Firstly, you can analyze sales and see which models go best without discounts and promotions. Secondly, you can observe your direct competitors to understand why they are promoting their products and developing collections in this way. Thirdly, you can chat with the consumer directly. This is achievable not only through focus groups and expensive research, but also through events organized by the PR department. At Ecco, we spend a lot of money on customer research because we can afford it. But even in a limited budget, the company has the opportunity to get the opinion of the target audience. When I worked at Manfield, we hired students who interviewed customers when they left the store. ”
“Even communicating with people who are not brand buyers is very useful. It helps to determine what place the brand occupies in the minds of the audience. And their criticism can lead to a valuable idea on improving products or the concept of positioning. "
«I do my best to ensure that sellers get enough training opportunities. When you give them specific sales tools, they start to really sell shoes, and not just pay the attention of buyers "to this beautiful couple." And their motivation due to new knowledge is increasing. Analyzing the statistics on Ecco stores, we saw that after the trainings, sales instantly increase. Therefore, we regularly conduct training for sellers, linking it with the launch of a new collection. Once a season, we explain to new and experienced sellers the intricacies of the current range, specific models and materials. And also we teach them to communicate with the buyer and sell him shoes. ”
“We need to build partnerships with suppliers based on a similar business worldview. Ecco works only with partners who share our brand philosophy, are interested in innovation and value product quality above all else. ”
“Finding the right partner can take a long time, sometimes even more than five years. It doesn’t matter how you look for suppliers - at industry exhibitions, through business publications or taking your own initiative - the main thing is to be known about you. ”
«The leader must not only be able to think in the medium and long term, but also learn at some point to be distracted from everyday worries and look at his business from the outside. This is necessary in order to understand what is happening with the business and how it is developing. ”
“I always make sure that employees are well trained and have a strong motivation to work, as well as that they are executive and responsible. The best way to get the results from people that you expect from them is to empower them. ”
Michelle Krol holds the position of Executive Vice President of Ecco and is responsible for sales of this brand's shoes worldwide. Before Ecco invited him to the post of Managing Director for the Benelux countries in 2000, Mr. Krol went a long career. Starting in 1983 with the position of assistant buyer at his father’s company, Michel Krol worked in brands such as Bata and Manfield, as well as in such large shoe companies as Euro Holland BA and Van Drunen Continental BV. Michel lived in Italy for several years. , having left there specifically to be imbued with the shoe traditions of this country and learn Italian. In addition to Italian and his native Dutch language, Mr. Krol also speaks English, German and French. In his free time, he loves to cook, ride a horse, go to sea on a yacht and play golf.
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