• CIT Commercial Services

    CIT Commercial Services provides financial solutions to middle market consumer product companies. Our lending, financing, and receivable management services are designed to improve cash flow, reduce operating expenses and mitigate credit risks.

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    Key Areas of Focus

    • Apparel  
    • Furniture Footwear  
    • Furniture  
    • Housewares  
    • Consumer Electronics
    • Accessories
    • Home Furnishings 
    • Textiles
    • Toys
    • Hardware
    • Luggage
    • Other Consumer Product Industries 
    • Service Industries
  • Commercial Services Highlights

    Retail

    The retail industry is going through a form of evolution, maybe even a revolution. In this CIT Executive Spotlight, Marc Heller discusses e-commerce and retail industry trends, and shares his outlook for the rest of 2016. Read E-Commerce Drives Retail Revolution for more insight.

     

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    The retail industry is going through a form of evolution, maybe even a revolution. E-commerce has changed the way retailers sell, so that the major brick-and-mortar companies are looking at their individual stores, potentially closing what they consider unprofitable stores, and investing in e-commerce to continue to grow their business. 

    In apparel, millennials and teen consumers have different buying habits than their parents, which is reflected in millennials' preference for 'buying' one specific item, even when at a mall or a store, rather than 'shopping' for multiple items. This difference can be attributed to the fact that millennials are often accustomed to buying a specific item online rather than browsing for items in multiple stores. Consumers whose shopping behavior was established before the rise of e-commerce could be more likely to browse through a store or a mall, leading to the discovery of new items and greater sales.

    Mall 350x250 Some of the other trends we're seeing in the market include:

    Consumers Favoring Experiences over Products: The apparel side of the business, as well as accessories, has slowed down. In the recent past, handbags, watches and leisurewear were booming. Those areas seem to have taken a significant step back, while consumers are spending more on restaurants, vacations and health spas. Consumers are favoring experiences over products, and retailers are reengineering their businesses as a result.

    Furniture Sector Remains Strong: The furniture segment continues to do well. Feedback at the furniture show in High Point, North Carolina, indicated that the show was extremely busy. A looming question in the furniture sector is whether the Asian suppliers will go direct to retail versus using furniture companies in the U.S. to distribute.

    Consumer Product Companies That Sell to Retail Still Pursuing M&A: Consumer product companies that sell to retail are looking to acquire the front ends of businesses, because that gives them an increase in revenue. If the acquirer already has the back office, warehousing and sourcing in place, an acquisition can add significantly to the bottom line, especially if the company is acquiring a brand that sells to customers it doesn't presently have. Acquisition at the right price can sometimes be the key to growth.

    Overall, retailers and consumer products companies that sell to retail continue to adapt in response to evolving consumer behavior. 

    You can read the full Executive Spotlight, "E-commerce Drives Retail Revolution," on the Knowledge Center on CIT.com.

    Marc Heller is President of CIT Commercial Services. His responsibilities include client service and retention, ensuring client credit quality and profitability, and business development for Commercial Services. He earned a BS in Economics from Queens College. 

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    Landing shelf space at a major retailer can be daunting; however, the upside for your business can be tremendous. For companies wanting to take their goods to a national audience, getting an appointment with the buyer and getting an order, while difficult, are only part of the challenge. Companies need to be aware of other challenges that will make or break their relationship with a major retailer. Awareness of the potential setbacks will ultimately boost your likelihood of success. Here are three critical factors to take into account before you begin:

    Shipping

    One key area suppliers must get a handle on is the distribution center. For large retailers, these logistic hubs are profit centers much like departments inside a retail store. Each retailer has specific and somewhat painstaking requirements suppliers need to adhere to in order to avoid chargebacks. Incorrect labeling such as address position, UPC code position etc., can cause extra handling, which can result in the assessment of fees by the retailers fulfillment center. Major retailers oftentimes use their own trucks to pick up product as opposed to having a supplier ship via a common carrier. The supplier should factor shipping costs into their cost calculations.

    Shopping for housewares 350x233 Advertising & Promotions

    While landing your product in a major retailer's weekly print circular or a seasonal catalog can provide significant exposure, the publicity can consume a significant portion of a vendor's margins. Negotiation of advertising allowances should be done at the time the retailer places the order so that the supplier can calculate the costs into their pricing and maintain desired gross margins. Suppliers should insist that they get sign off on the retailers marketing materials, they are bearing the cost.

    Another important area within promotional spending is the slotting fees seen in supermarkets and certain other retail formats. With these fees, companies pay a negotiated amount that can vary greatly based on prominence on a shelf, or even the location of the store. The rationale is that the attractive real estate, such as end-of-aisle displays will translate into higher sales. You should be aware whether or not the retailer will deduct fees from your payment or if you are expected to make a payment to them in advance for the positioning.

    Technology

    If a supplier does not currently have EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) software they must either make the investment or hire a third-party provider to handle this requirement. With major retailers this software creates the machine-to-machine exchange of everything from purchase orders to invoices and shipping documents. Not having the capability will preclude retailers from working with your company.

    For a brand interested in garnering the attention of a big-box retailer, the challenges can be fierce. However, mastering the intricacies of distribution and shipping, cost to market, marketing promotions and stock wares can prove valuable. Once you understand the retail logistics and overcome these hurdles, having your products on the shelves of national retailer stores can be incredibly beneficial to your brand recognition and sales volume.

    Louis Barone is a Managing Director at CIT Commercial Services.

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    CIT Executives provide their outlook on e-commerce and retail industry trends. [Q&A]
    Before selling products to big-box retailers, consider these 3 factors. [Article]
    Malls aren't dead. See how they are staying relevant amidst changing trends. [Article]
    Furniture is seen as a form of expression, contributing to industry growth. [Fast Facts]