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Wouldn't bother me at all. Nobody's "forcing" me to do anything. I can either be a member if it's worth it to me, or not if it's not. Simple. My membership is basically worthless anyway if I'm not spending $100/year.
Again, I'm no expert. But it seems to me that that potential customer (one who sees the value of the deal but turns up his nose because of some philosophical concern about being "forced" to do something) is one it doesn't make sense to chase, because he's never going to be satisfied anyway. Pretty much any time you set up an "rewards" system -- or simply offer a deal -- you can call it a positive inducement or a negative threat, depending on how you look at it. You pay a dollar, you get a cookie. You don't pay a dollar, you get no cookie. The real question is whether $1 is the right price for Mauro to charge for his cookies, not whether somebody is being "forced" to pay $1 to get a cookie.
So I agree with your premise that you can never make everyone happy.
Pretty much every decision one makes, provided they care about the consequences, is an explicit (or sometimes implicit) consideration of tradeoffs right?
WvG can choose to implement the subscription model and not care about the group of people who will be upset and whine. It's also very possible that those people who are upset would stop supporting the brand financially and otherwise. I don't have the numbers or the data to say how big that group is so my intent was just to point out the possibility.
I mean look at the recent Adobe Photoshop fiasco. There are a substantial amount of people who are unhappy and unwilling to buy into the subscription based model that Adobe is forcing on them. Even when Adobe offered the subscription at a significant discount, just on the basis of principle alone many people refuse to sign up.
And for all the awesomeness that WvG is, I think it's safe to say that photoshop has a more dominant position in the market than WvG does. So Adobe has the luxury of the, "well you can like it or you can not like it but we're the only game in town" viewpoint that WvG may not have.
Besides, if I were Mauro I would feel much better about myself and my own work if people bought my clothes because my clothes are awesome vs, people bought my clothes cause it's December and if they don't spend their store credit they lose it so better find something.
Wow - catching up on the last few days of this thread. I am a somewhat regular SF reader but not a frequent poster, but since Mauro's asking, I thought I'd give some feedback.
I've been a casual WvG customer and tote holder for the last several months and will continue to be one. Like many people, I got into WvG for the shirts. The fabrics are awesome and the fits are good. The construction quality so far has been great as well, but for me this is secondary to the cool designs. Like most people here (I suspect), I will pay more for a well made garment and I will pay more for a made in the USA garment, but these aren't requirements for me.
My take on some of the topics mentioned:
Target customer base - I don't think there are too many brands out there that manage to be "all in" for their customers, i.e. folks buy their whole wardrobe from that brand. I have to imagine it's tough to get into that territory and it takes a lot of time. I work in a business casual office, and I personally run between trendy but casual to the formal side of business casual when I'm in the office. I don't see a lot of WvG offerings in that range (maybe chinos, more on that later) but that's not what I go to this brand for. The really cool, unique shirtings, with good fits, is what drew me in. I think this is the center of the WvG collection and Mauro should continue to focus on it. I get the desire to add products and expand, but realize that every piece is not going to connect with every customer. There is nothing that could get me to buy/wear a camo windbreaker. But I'll buy shirts with samurai and oni riding motorbikes all day. It is what it is. Not everyone who buys WvG is going to buy every type of product or design. That said, I see a lot of love on the forum for the tees and henleys, so maybe I'll try some with my next order.
Website - I've seen Mauro comment that the platform is limited, so I only have one piece of advice - create an archives section. Keep pages out there with all the cool designs of the past. This will help create the feel of a long term brand with design history. Many similar brands mentioned as comparisons in this thread (Ts(s), EG, for example if not specifically) have sections on their web sites with old collections. Also, move sold out products to that section. This will keep the main website from feeling like it's constantly out of stock.
Stock - Keep the basics in stock! As others have mentioned, at least some colors of basics - tees, oxfords, etc. - must be kept in stock, in core sizes, at all times. Not having these in stock absolutely loses WvG business. Running out of small BD in special fabrics will lose you a few sales. Not having basic shirts available in S, M, L, at any time, will lose you a ton of potential sales because casual buyers will go elsewhere and not come back to your website. It's just how things work in the internet age. They will go to another web store and buy something similar. Maybe these potential buyers would never have turned into long term customers, but at least one sale has passed. I was on the fence about joining the rewards program for months, not because of cost, but because every time I looked at the website nothing was available to buy in my size. Others in this thread have mentioned comparisons to Epaulet. I am also a casual Epaulet customer, having purchased a few pieces. Epaulet rolls out new product (almost)weekly - and this keeps a buzz going. Releasing several new shirts every 4-6 weeks just doesn't generate the same level of involvement. Obviously Epaulet is a larger and different operation, but I think their release model mitigates some of Mauro's issues.
Rewards program - I don't know enough about the finances and cost structure for Mauro among wholesale, retail, and stockists to have an opinion on what to do with this. I am surprised by the number of responses that said $100 is a deterrent to taking the plunge on the program. Anyone interested in this brand is probably going to spend many hundreds or thousands of dollars on products, getting into the "club" for the first hundred isn't a big deal. Whatever you do, Mauro, keep the rewards members special through special orders, etc. This definitely has a psychological effect and keeps people engaged with the brand. I don't need to know that I'm getting a super deal by buying a shirt for half price of what some other guy pays from Needsupply. But give me access to special fabrics, pick my collar style, etc., and I'll keep coming back.
Pants, sweaters, other things not selling as well as expected - I think Mauro said it best - he makes clothes because he wants to wear them. Mauro, I totally get doing this as a designer, but from a business standpoint, it's going to have consequences. As I said above, it's going to be tough to find a sizable group of customers who buy into your vision across the board. I understand the frustration when a design you're excited about doesn't connect the way you hoped, but fashion does involve risks and that's a risk. As a small designer I know this risk matters more to you than a bigger house, but there it is. Example, the blood red car coat looks awesome, but there's not a huge pool of guys out there looking to wear blood red car coats. Put out a peacoat in more... basic?... color, and you'll sell it like gangbusters. Sweaters - honestly, they look really nice and I almost bought one. Maybe I will. I don't know. It's dumb but I just don't wear crewnecks. Every sweater I've bought in the last six or seven years is a v-neck. Turtlenecks are right out. Pants - I'm confused by the multiple lines, fits, and lack of measurements on the site. I suspect many are in the same boat. Simply and clarify the lines and I'll probably take the plunge. The bloodline trousers, I'm sure are awesome, but bottom line, I'm not going to get excited about details that will get my tailor excited. I do a bit of woodworking as a hobby so as a creator, I do get pride of craftsmanship, making something the right way and not taking shortcuts. But as a consumer, it's not the top thing on my radar. So as a designer, if you're doing those garments as a personal statement, you have to know that they're not going to be top sellers. Do a solid, made in the USA chino in a decent slim (not skinny!) fit, maybe with some selvedge fabric, and it'll sell all day. Just get the sizing chart up there!
Economics - I do have an academic background in economics, but it does not inform my post. No economic theory I am familiar with will explain my spending this kind of money on shirts with Eskimos, samurai bikers, etc. They're just cool and I love putting them on.
Sorry for the long post, but hope it helps.
the average joe is just too used to shopping at the mall and onlly on sale
Not a funny story but kind of ironic.
A couple days ago I received to orders at retail. One was substantial in size and it freaked me out. I am not use to having people buying $1,000.00 worth of stuff at retail. I produced the order everyone checked out but it bugged me. I emailed the guy and called to be safe. No response. I emailed again last night telling him I refunded the sell. Late last night I get an email saying he was legit and he personally place the order. All I thought was "doh". I emailed him and told he I already refunded him but if he decided to order again I would pick up shipping.
I pysched myself out and probably lost a customer because I couldn't wrap my head around someone buying my stuff in quantity at retail. A piece or two here and there happens but not like this. I mentioned the rewards program and how he could save a nice chunk of change but no response. Maybe he is a SF'er and will reorder, I hope so. Now, I am just kicking myself in the ass.
IIF ANYONE WANTS TO BUY AT RETAIL I WILL HAPPILY PAY FOR SHIPPING just use the code " freeshipping" please remember this is for retail paying guests only.
I am a moron.
I agree. Not to mention I am the last guy to be pushing product on someone. I think a 50% off code for your first purchase is a good idea. Then people can buy what they want if they want . They have a chance to experience the brand and then can make the plunge.
Funny enough I have had a few people buy at retail in the last couple days. One was for a substainal amount so I emailed the guy and called him with no luck. I will refund him becuase it weirds me out when people don't want to save a shit load of money. I have also had several new loyalty members " thank you" I look forward to dressing you ( not personally).
I also think I need to up the marketing game and make myself seen a little more. The blog is going well and the way I have it set up people can read inteseting facts about fashion at the same time not pushing WvG.
When my first video goes out I will do a promo code so people can take advantage of a " video discount". I personally rethink and I don't know why this is but if most of my rewards members referred one person and that one person bought into the rewards program I could be at 1200 people in no time flat. It's funny that my clients kinda covet their rewards membership and wvg it's like it's their own little secret they don't want to give up. I offer a referal fee.
Right now one guy has a $60.00 credit and another guy has a $30.00 credit. I don't think it's a bad credit. One referral gets you $30.00 in credit.
My question is why don't guys like giving up their shopping spots?
I tell EVERYONE about WvG. Problem is, most of my friends don't buy DRESS SHOES that are over $100, so trying to explain that this $100 shirt is actually a good deal is like trying to teach a dog to appreciate fine cheeses.
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