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Indies click onto online portal to boost sales

An increasing number of independent retailers are planning to plug into online portals to help raise their profile and drive online sales.

Premium businesses including, Hip in Leeds, Middlesbrough department store Psyche and London indie Browns have expressed an interest in signing up to Designerclothing.com, an online shopping portal which will bring together independent retailers into one online shopping community.

Designerclothing is scheduled to launch at the end of this month and has received letters of intent to sign up from more than 150 indies.

The website will host online profiles of each retailer and transactions will be directed to the retailer’s own transactional website.

The service is free to join at launch stage although a membership fee may be introduced at a later date. Designerclothing will take a 10% commission from sales made.

Retailers and their stock will be ranked on feedback scores given by users of the site rather than by price comparison of product.

Designerclothing managing director Richard Bendelow said: “We’ve received a fantastic reception from the fashion industry. The profiling facility is fundamental to its success and will serve multiple purposes. As well as providing statistical customer data to the boutiques, we’ll also be able to analyse brand synergies and fashion shopping trends. Most online boutiques don’t have the time or expertise needed to gather this kind of information, which can be crucial to successful buying, marketing and sales.”

Separately, online directory Findafashionshop.co.uk, which launched in April 2008, has reported a 98% membership renewal rate over the first and second quarters of 2009 from the 300 indies on its books.

The operation aims to appeal to those independents that do not have a transactional website and acts as an online advertising platform. It costs independents £52 per year to join the service.

Readers' comments (6)

  • So, Designerclothing is an affiliate scheme where the only thing for boutiques that stock the same brand is to compete on price and therefore drive down the value of the brands - what a great idea, like a kind of online Debenhams without the level playing field.

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  • Trading is notoriously difficult at the moment, so alongside competing with labels that we do the hard work on (getting their name out there) and then they do their own transactional website we now are presented with ebays answer to boutiques...

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  • I understand your concerns but can assure you that DesignerClothing.com, from the outset, has been developed to be the very opposite of a price comparison site, nor is it a standard affiliate service - it's primary purpose is to offer a quality shopping experience online, bringing together the best boutiques from across the UK.
    To ensure that it stays to true to its direction, there are strict measures in place to avoid price comparison. If boutiques are stocking exactly the same garment in the same size and the same colourway at the same time, then shoppers will be able to choose which store they purchase from by using a quality score for guidance - the quality score will be based on feedback from shoppers on delivery times, customer service, etc. Any boutiques that are clearly slashing their prices to beat fellow independents will find that their stock is immediately removed from the main section of the site.
    DesignerClothing.com is being developed to offer the greatest amount of choice to the consumer, not endless duplicates of the same product, and there’ll be a massive amount of work our end to ensure that we provide a fair service that benefits both shoppers and boutiques.
    If you have further concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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  • Of course, the other issue, which of course IS the primary purpose of this site for you, is the 10% commission, which in fact translates to at least 25% of the independents profit taken away in a dire market. I doubt you are offering a unique product as Findafashionshop got there before you, and the ebay feedback system is old old hat. I don't wish you well in this venture, a one stop shop for boutiques takes away the very nature of their uniqueness, whats next? a drive through?

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  • I'm curious to know if the retailers have discussed this with the brands they stock. I know of one brand that is not allowing its stockists to appear on the site as they see it as third party hosting and that goes against its terms and conditions.

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  • The boutiques and smaller indies should looke at sites like www.tribesmart.com - this type of site is an excellent social shopping community which a free to use. Retailers can add products, share opinions, reviews and ratings of product.

    This type of site offers a platform where specialist retailers can engage with interested customers and create good quality backlinks to their own sites.

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