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The White Orchid’s Upgraded Approach to Apparel Buying

The White Orchid’s Upgraded Approach to Apparel Buying

Diane Muno, who owns the White Orchid boutique in Colorado, remembers how she used to stock her two retail locations. 

“I pay money to go to market, to travel, to have hotels and food,” she remembers. “I have to sit and say, ‘okay, I bought four of these at $35 or $39, [which] equals this much.’ I don’t know how much I’ve spent. I don’t want to leave the paper because then I’m committed to that order. So I have to come home and then I have to do some more work to calculate how much I’m spending.”

Traditionally, when apparel retailers needed to stock their stores with the latest fashions, they had to physically purchase wares to sell. These trade shows were hubs for retailers to see trends, meet designers and place orders in-person. 

Diane still attends trade shows and similar in-person events. But in a world where digitization is the new norm for running a business, she’s transitioned the White Orchid to a more modern approach to apparel buying. 

According to McKinsey, investing in the right technology–whether that’s order management or logistics–can help save retailers up to 20% in costs.  

Diane has taken advantage of digital tools like B2B ecommerce platform NuORDER by Lightspeed to order directly from suppliers online, reducing the need for in-person events and making buying easier in the process.

Diane’s story speaks to the ways in which even retail buying–traditionally an in-person, hands-on process–has been transformed by modern technological solutions.

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From trade shows to an online marketplace 

Diane is part of a network of over 500,000 retail buyers who can browse products and place orders directly from suppliers and brands in one system. NuORDER functions as an online marketplace, enabling retailers to connect with brands and suppliers all year around in compliment to the traditional trade show market seasons.

As a result, her buying process has become more streamlined–she purchases inventory directly from brands in a few clicks. She can even easily place orders online while at a trade show if the vendors she wants to work with also use NuORDER. 

“[NuORDER] allowed me to have immediate access, edit my order based on budget after the fact, and allow me to move on to other vendor tables to keep writing orders, keep looking at new items, to choose to decide to order. So it was convenience and time.”

Retail buyers once relied primarily on trade shows and similar events to learn about market trends and make their buying decisions. Now, online trade networks have risen in popularity, as they address the challenges associated with traditional buying. 

Related: Find out how Lightspeed helped the White Orchid improve their operational efficiency.

Faster product discovery and ordering

Diane still attends in-person events, but is more selective. With direct access to a global network of suppliers online, she has optimized her vetting and ordering process. 

She cites the ease of ordering products using a wholesale ecommerce platform. “I know I can just enter every item, the items pop up, I [get] to one button and say ‘give me a small through extra large on all 100 pieces in my cart’ and it says ‘oh, you just spent $13,000.’ I can sit and go through and have it done. I’m not interrupted by the reps.”

Traditional retail buying takes a lot of effort and time, with face-to-face interactions informing the bulk of buying decisions.  

Retailers like Diane can still take this route, but now they have accurate, time-saving online tools that complement the in-person product discovery process. 

Increased efficiency in the buying process

Rising costs are a significant challenge for supply chains in 2024. 

Diane is one of many retailers who have had to adapt in response to these costs, prompted in part by a turbulent economic and retail climate. “Costs have gone up. My wages are up … my rents are up, my taxes are up,” she says. 

It’s just not feasible or efficient to rely solely on trade shows for apparel purchasing. 

Through online marketplaces as well as access to real-time inventory data through analytic tools, Diane makes more informed purchasing decisions, faster. 

“I switched to Lightspeed because of the fact that I could have live inventory and it was cloud based, allowing me to work from anywhere, since I couldn’t be at one store all the time, and allowing inventory to be live for the two locations.” 

She’s saved time ordering inventory from her vendors, allowing her to focus on other areas of her business. “For me to enter those items and put in images … I could spend an hour at least on each order. [Now] I can matrix it and easily enter items beyond that. It’d be a minimum of 20 minutes savings, but it could be as much as an hour to 90 minutes.”

With modern platforms, retailers can be more efficient and get a better view of their business. Factors like market demands, trends and target audience can be taken into account earlier and in one place, while before more extensive planning was required. 

Future-proofing the retail buying process

Diane has tapped into modern solutions for everything from point of sale to inventory management. 

She’s joined by thousands of other retailers who have made the decision to digitize aspects of apparel buying to save time, increase efficiency and understand trends ahead of the pace. 

“[The time savings are] the true value to me. I just click three buttons and everything’s in there. And I’ve saved another hour and a half. I’m super happy.”

In today’s highly competitive retail landscape, businesses have to meet consumers where they are both in-store and online. Some facts may surprise you–ecommerce is growing rapidly, but consumers still prefer in-store shopping experiences. For retailers with an omnichannel presence, it’s all about accommodating these needs. 

Retail buying is evolving in tandem: retailers are taking a blended approach to ordering and trend analysis, balancing online convenience and efficiency with in-person supplier relationships.

If you’re interested in streamlining your buying process, talk to an expert about Lightspeed Retail and NuORDER today. 

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