Being a Buyer and Leader in a Multichannel World

Being a Buyer and Leader in a Multichannel World
Buyers need to understand the customer base and look at the analysis, but also go for the things that inspire you. Claudia Batistall

Having worked at House of Fraser for more than 10 years Claudia Batistall has a wealth of experience as a fashion buyer and team leader.

Inside Retail hung out with her at Pure London. Here she shares her tips on team leadership, what makes a good buyer and how to buy for online versus the store.

Leading a buying team

As a team leader my job is to get buyers to think commercially and strategically but equally you have to excite the customer so we need those ‘out-there’ pieces in the collection. They help to sell everything else.

Buyers need to understand the customer base and look at the analysis, but also go for the things that inspire you.

It’s important that our buyers are given autonomy to go out and buy and have the courage of their convictions.

Where we want to retain staff but can’t promote them, we ensure they have ownership of a project and exposure to senior members of the team.

Showing that their opinion matters to the business is important. There’s not enough of telling them they’re valued and that they’re doing a great job.

Advice for junior buyers

The new generation coming through understands their self worth and are go-getting, but at some point in your career you have to consolidate your experience otherwise you’ll get caught out.

Know the basics of how to plan a range, how to range build from visual-, online- and customer-facing perspectives. Knowing those key basics in detail is something some people try to skip.

Understand the marketplace, that it’s a commercial business, and having passion will always be key.

You can learn to be strategic over time. Experience will teach you to think further ahead of the next season and the repercussions.

Buyers need to be conversant in the facts and figures. The relationship with merchandisers works in tandem.

Shopping the competition

Keeping an eye on the competition is a reality check. It’s important to shop everything from Primark to Prada to allow you to contextualise the position of your business.

We look at our competitors’ ideas, executions, new brands and new products. I love the visual and ways new areas are edited, and new suggestions around lifestyle.

The most exciting feeling is being inspired. If I’m inspired, my customer will be too.

Buying for online versus the store

The key difference when buying for multichannel compared with a store is that width and depth drive online sales. You can’t deliver that in the contraints of a store.

Online customer traffic comes through product searches as much as through brand searches. In store she’s a bit more brand focused and brand loyal.

We ensure we have lots of online exclusives and really back what we think will be bestsellers because your customer base is so much wider.

You’re buying for the world rather than a specific area or locality, so you need to have that mindset.

Online merchandising

Online is easier than buying for store as it’s less visual. You don’t need to think how it will sit together and how the customer be enticed into buying that whole outfit.

You can be wider online. The customer is looking for choice, she’ll scan 100 options in two minutes.

Understand she’s in a much different mindset when online than in a store.