How to Maximize Supplier Relationships

It’s really important to meet in person – so they can see what we’re about and vice versa.

When it comes to supplier relationships, there’s a fine line between being too demanding and not demanding enough. Paula Watson is head of brands at Lux Fix, an online fashion retailer that collates over 250 under-the-radar collections. She explains how the relationship should work.

Demand great quality imagery

We’re not going to reshoot product so we work with brands’ imagery. It creates the first impression, so we need great photography – clean, beautiful model shots.

Curate them

They can be fantastic brands but not all their products will work. Shorts shorts, no-sleeves or you can’t wear it with a bra? Forget it. We have to get the right products for our customers.

It’s a partnership

Our customers respond to designers and what they say, but it’s our tone of voice they trust so we translate them into that. It’s a mix of brand and retailer communication that works best.

Designers add stardust. Use it

Customers order through us but the designer sends the product out. We ask them to handwrite the envelope. It makes it really special. Beautiful packaging is a must-have touch today.

Talk about prices

We work with designers on price. We’ll price match all year – including Sales periods. You don’t want to undercut your suppliers. Consumers are smart, they will find the other options if you’re overpricing.

Use data

I love a spreadsheet. Our biggest selling category is dresses, and we know we don’t sell see-through, tight or short pieces. That information is priceless. So we work with designers ahead of season and will tell them – you sold mostly blue, size 14 – we can look together and think about what they can do going forward.

Any store, whether online or not, should collate data on what’s sold, who to and how many returns they had.

Research them

Our buying is rigorous. Take Pure. Ahead of time we contact the new brands that are interesting and go and meet them at the show. It’s really important to meet in person – so they can see what we’re about and vice versa.

Vet them

We don’t want to waste our time or theirs so we filter all potential brands through a list and ensure they meet our criteria before we approach them. 

Paula Watson was talking to Sophy Searight in December 2015