Going Global: 7 Tips

What you need to know about working with international vendors
By Jessica Harlan

Crossing the borders and exploring the offerings of manufacturers and distributors from all over the world is sure to give your store a distinctive product mix. But it can be daunting to work with a supplier from another country where the currency, language, customs and standards might be different from yours.

But establishing an international roster of suppliers is worth the extra effort to find unusual products and to incorporate trends into your assortment even before they start catching on in the U.S.

Insider Info
AmericasMart is the perfect place to find international suppliers; you can travel the world while staying on one interconnected campus. We spoke with some of the global exhibitors at The July Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market to get their best tips on how American retailers can best work with suppliers from other countries. Here’s what they have to say:

Image courtesy of Eightmood

Image courtesy of Eightmood

1. “A vendor who has gone through the hurdles of entering the U.S. Market is determined,” says Fredrik Axelsson, sales director for the U.S. for Eightmood, a home furnishings design company based in Sweden. “If you see what you like, start a dialogue, establish a partnership, place an order, and grow together.”

2. During an in-person conversation, be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand, and don’t be afraid to summarize or restate the discussion to make sure everyone is on the same page.

3. Bring a tape measure – basic measurements might be different in other countries. Outside the United States, most countries use metric measurements, so having a tape measure (or downloading a conversion app on your smartphone) will allow you to translate sizes for your market.

4. The way products are designed or constructed might differ too, says John Goumas, sales and marketing vice president for Australian company OneWorld Collection. “In America, lampshades are mounted with harps and finials, and in Australia, our lamps are done the English way, with the shade that attaches to the base of the bulb.” While OneWorld has adapted, redesigning its lamps to reflect the American market, some products just might be different from what’s expected – and that’s part of what makes it unique.

Image courtesy of Evelyne Prélonge

Image courtesy of Evelyne Prélonge

5. Double check details about financial transactions to make sure there are no unexpected costs associated with your orders. “Make sure the price includes transport and duties,” says Marylou Altounian, brand manager for Evelyn Prélonge. She also recommends retailers make sure they can set up payment in U.S. dollars via bank transfer or credit cards.

Image courtesy of Tissage Art de Lys

Image courtesy of Tissage Art de Lys

6. Plan for longer delivery times. One of the challenges to working with an overseas source is that getting goods might take longer. Aureline Maillard, spokesperson for French company Tissage Art de Lys says her company typically proposes DDP delivery (Delivery Duty Paid) and does everything possible to limit the time it takes for orders to be delivered. Altounian also recommends double checking that quoted delivery time includes transport time, since sea freight can be as long as four weeks.

Image courtesy of Moe's Home Collection

Image courtesy of Moe’s Home Collection

7. Take advantage of a vendor’s offerings. At Moe’s Home Collection, a Canadian/American home furnishings company, the company can sell a retailer a whole room package, from the rug to the furniture to the lighting and decorative accessories, and even has available photography for retailers to use in promotions. Inquire about promotional materials and bundled assortments to help give your imported merchandise a boost.

Read more tips for working with international vendors in the July 2016 Market Magazine.

For more information: Eightmood, Inc. – eightmood.com, 561.801.5400; Evelyne Prélonge – evelyne-prelonge.com, +33 1 85 08 59 55; Moe’s Home Collection – moeshomecollection.com, 800.967.9942; OneWorld Collection – oneworldcollection.com, 630.870.4799; Tissage Art de Lys – artdelys.com, +33 3 20 75 42 10

Make this the year the gift and home industry celebrates the ICON in you!

IMG_8573

To meet heavy last-minute demand, the ICON HONORS 2016 Call for Entries has been extended through April 1. All submissions and nominations must be received online by midnight on the 1st.

You now have until April 1 to complete your 2016 ICON HONORS entry!

It is YOUR year to compete. Make sure you’re in the running for the home and gift industry’s highest honor.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: APRIL 1
Enter now!
www.iconhonors.com

The Global Lens – Materials and Surface Design

By Patti Carpenter, AmericasMart Global Trend Ambassador

Patti CarpenterProducts draw me in. Each exerts a power and pull over me. This innate power is one of the ways I determine the quality of the things I am regarding. I enjoy touching and engaging with all manner of products. I often have to restrain myself, even in galleries and museums from reaching out to touch that powerful energy. Perhaps this strong instinct comes from my years in product development, so with this caveat, let’s now focus on the concepts and trends influencing the categories of materials, print, pattern and surface design.

As members of the global community we grasp the importance of our collective impact as we focus on our connectedness to the earth and to each other. This focus means that round forms and circular inspirations bubble to the fore and figure prominently for the season, showing themselves as dots, circles and perforations. We honor the ability and artistry applied to the fragile quality of fine porcelain. We see ourselves reflected in the high shine and polished surfaces of metals mirroring carefree times gone by, and maybe even, dare I say it, those decadent disco days!

Exaggerations in texture, in conjunction with interesting and intricate tactile compositions, create new constructions and fabrications. These new materials embody our desire to interface and beckon us to engage with products in a more intimate way. The artisans’ hands or the creative use of technology inspires me, and I want to reach out and touch or be touched by supple, structured surfaces.

Here are some teasing touches calling for my caress this season.

Materials: Whether touched by the hands of master craftspeople or forged by technology, the newest textiles and substrates encourage a new kind of product interaction.

  • Textures – Structured, substantial surfaces engage us to touch, as they are tactile and  tangibleTactile Textures
  • Metallics – Gold, Silver and newest Copper or Rose Gold, mine these metals, retro and reflective, and cast them in major rolesGolden MomentsSilver ShinesCoper Tones
  • Porcelain – Fine, fragile and white by design, the delicacy and artistry spark new interest in this age-old mediumPrecious Porcelain

Print/Pattern/Surface Design: Surface design exploration creates a contemporary visual
conversation and offers up engaging new intricacies and aesthetics

  • Small Graphic Geos and Repeats – small-scale prints and jacquards are big on styleTip The Scale
  • Perforations, Circles and Dots – the circle is the shape of the season, punched, printed or woven Circle Back
  • Organic Edging – whether created by the hand of the artist, skilled technical craftsmanship, or the whim of nature, each is uniqueOrganic Rims

Till the next time, let’s continue the creative conversation and let me know what’s touching you.


 

See these trends and more at the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market®, March 2-4, 2016.

 

Helpful Holiday Tips for a Successful Selling Season

Are you ready for the holiday selling season? Mercedes Gonzales of Global Purchasing Group has some tips to help set you apart from the competition.KO-Ice-Princess-Christmas

The U.S. public isn’t necessarily money poor, they are time poor!  They need a real reason to shop in your store that isn’t a guilt trip. We have come up with a few customer service friendly tips that are cost effective and will help you stand out from the price wars and the crowds.

  1. Carry unique products that are limited and well-crafted

This means buying from emerging designers. Look for them on the Premiere area of Floor 2 during market. And ask your market rep who is new and answer those emails from an unheard of designer.

  1. Offer free gift wrapping

This is a small investment in the purchasing of the wrapping paper and supplies. You can have your favorite local charity volunteers (I like animal shelters) do the wrapping for a donation to their cause. You are building good will in the spirit of the season and offering a service with a low cost.

  1. Accept phone orders and offer local same day delivery

Really make this known by having signage in the store and posting it daily on your social media. It is totally fine to charge for this service. You will find this to be most popular during the last few days. If you get to watch the movie, “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” there is a great part where on Christmas Eve, right before the store was to close, John Lennon (I know) calls and wants some fur coat bought over to the house. The poor sales guys waited for HOURS while John and Yoko went in to another room to look at the coats. Turns out they bought 400k worth of fur coats. It’s just an example of going the extra mile.

  1. Offer free Wi-Fi so the significant other can watch the game

I still don’t understand why so few stores offer this. It’s at no cost to have an addition password for the public. If the significant and/or the kids are occupied, the customer will feel more at ease to shop.

  1. Set up a children’s area with videos playing

This doesn’t have to be a fancy set up – it can even be a small sitting area with IPads. Most kids will use “mom’s” phone so they really just need a place to sit. Bean bag chairs are great and can be easily stored during off season.

  1. Extend and have flexible return policies

Oh the bitter pill of independent retail. You should take back returns. A fair and competitive policy is unworn with tags can be returned for a full refund within 14 days. It’s a math game, which you will win by having a competitive policy. OK, ready? For the month of December, I would extend it to 30 days to make a return for a full refund.

  1. Turn your staff into trained wardrobe and gift experts

You should have quick training every week during the holiday season. Come up with gift ideas for the most challenging person. Make it a contest to see what “forgotten” person gets a gift this year. I bought super warm gloves for the man at the transfer station at the suggestion of a sales person at my local boutique. Interesting it’s a women’s boutique that only offers men’s gifts during the season. Oh and I don’t even like the guy.

  1. Offer extended shopping hours

Again it’s a math game. You MUST have extended hours at least two nights a week during the season. You should be able to cover the extra payroll with the additional sales. Make sure you promote your extended hours.

  1. Keep a stash of universal cell phone chargers

You will be the place to go for this service the investment can be as small as buying a few different types of chargers to buying one of those locker types.

  1. Offer homemade holiday cookies (make them festive)

Have the team make their own family cookie and have a “bake off” with the winner getting a ribbon and photo to be displayed in the store. Or make a donation to a local group (church ladies make the best cookies) and have them make a batch for the store.

  1. Surprise them with a small gift with purchase

There are many accessories available on the 7th Floor that can be bought for $1. Place them in a nice organza bag for a great “wow” factor after a purchase.

  1. Host fun events like having a Santa or photo booth

Make a small investment in renting the costume or you might be able to hire a “Santa” to come to the store. Take photos on your smart phone and offer to email them to the customer…thus also collecting emails.

  1. Offer coat and bag checks

I don’t understand why more stores don’t offer this service. If I am sweating under my layers of clothing, I am not going to stay very long in the store. Use a simple deck of cards and clothing pins system and the stock room for this.

It might go without saying, but make sure you are fully staffed during peak hours and that everyone is properly trained to check out a customer.

I’ll be speaking on Saturday, October 17 at Atlanta Apparel about more ideas and sales training during Market.

How to Run a Successful Retail Shop
Presented by Mercedes Gonzalez of Global Purchasing Group
11 a.m.  |  
Floor 11, 11-W357
9 out of 10 retailers don’t make it past their first year. This crash course was designed from an 8-hour workshop to highlight the most important key factors you didn’t know you needed to know.

Creating the Ultimate Sales Team
Presented by Mercedes Gonzalez of Global Purchasing Group
3:30 p.m.  |  
Floor 11, 11-W357
Your sales team is the backbone of your store. Learn the five key training points every successful retailer should know for closing and increasing your sales, and hear how to avoid Internet showrooming.
mercedes-gonzales-300x193

Saying “I Do” In Style

Today, the Atlanta Apparel WORLD OF PROM Market comes to a close, which means that all eyes are on VOW | New World Of Bridal in September. This market will be focused on what’s new and next for all things bridal in 2016.

We’ve researched the trends to give you the latest information on what you can expect to see at Market and in stores for spring and summer of  2016. The trends include classic styles, with modern twists and unique details to make any bride stand out…


color

A Mix of Colors: It’s not just all white anymore… brides are straying away from the traditional white wedding gown, and going for something with a little more color. If you are in the market for a wedding dress today, you may find it hard to find an all white dress. We are seeing a lot of cream and off-white, as well as very light blue and even hints of black for a little bit of edge!


embellishments2

Expect Embellishments: Embellishments can make a bland dress beautiful in just seconds, and we have seen them all over the runway for 2016 bridal. Expect to see pearls and metallic stones gracing the bodes of many dresses.


feathers

Ruffles and Feathers: We’re seeing these features show up on the bottom half of many dresses, creating a more full look on something a little simple.


train

The Detachable Train: Many designers are bringing this trend back in a more fashionable and updated way, adding attachments to the sides and back of a more slim gown. Brides can easily remove the attachments for light-weight reception attire.


floral

Fancy Florals: Ranging floral patterns are covering the designs of wedding dresses for 2016. Whether it’s a colorful mix, or a detailed embellishment, you are sure to see this trend walking down the aisle.


backless

Showing a Little Skin: No back? No problem. Brides are loving the chance to show off a little skin with a complete backless dress, while still keeping a classic silhouette in the front.


offtheshoulder

Off the Shoulder: A huge trend in the fashion industry right now is the off-the-shoulder look on tops and dresses. This style shows off the color bone and also allows brides to show off some skin without going overboard. It’s trendy and classic, all at the same time.


neckline

Plunging Neckline: The popular, revealing style extends down to the lower waist. This style can be paired with anything from long-sleeves to a strapless, sweet-heart shape. Mesh fabric can also be paired with this style, creating a illusion of more bare skin being shown.


Image 1 | 2 | Image 3 | Image 4 | Image 5 | Image 6 | Image 7 | Image 8

We look forward to seeing you at VOW | New World Of Bridal, taking place on Wednesday, September 16 – Friday, September 18, 2015.

PROM 2016 TRENDS

As we prepare for the WORLD OF PROM this month, we can’t help but day dream about all of the amazing prom styles that will be trending for 2016. With so many breathtaking and flattering designs, this could very well be the most fashionable prom season yet.

We’ve gathered together a list of trending styles to get you prepared to shop prom 2016 here in Atlanta. With so many different collections, you are sure to find just the right variety for everyone’s prom needs. From classy and timeless detail, to fun and unique shapes, there is something for everyone to achieve the perfect look they have been dreaming of for a night they will never forget.


TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE

TWO PIECESIt’s easy to see that crop tops have been a huge trend piece during the past couple years, and they are better than ever for the prom 2016 season. While still keeping the look of a traditional prom dress, the idea of two pieces adds a fun touch for young girls. We’re seeing this in many different styles, including pieces with short or long sleeves, as well as full-length and short skirts.


SLEEVES, SHORT + LONG

We’ve seen necklines such as strapless, sweetheart and one-shoulder, but now the art SLEEVESof sleeves is gracing the prom dresses of 2016. Short, long, off the shoulder… you name it and you’ll most likely see it in some shape or form. Although this aspect gives prom dresses a much more conservative feel, it only adds more of a special touch. It also allows plus size women an option to feel more comfortable while dressing for a formal event!


MIDI LENGTH

MIDI LENGTHThis trend debuted in the 1940’s and made a comeback recently in 2011. After dying down quite a bit, designers have decided to try a new take on the midi skirt and incorporate it into formal fashion. For prom dressers looking to embrace a more elegant and conservative style, this trend meets perfection. It’s feminine and classy, just the way a prom dress should be!


LACE, PLEASE

We can’t really think of a time when lace hasn’t been a good idea. Prom dresses covered in lace or with simple lace accents have madeLACE them that much more beautiful. Combining lace with mesh fabric creates an illusion of  lace covering the body, which we’ve seen all over the fashion industry lately. Multiple brands have been incorporating this trend into their 2016 designs, and we can’t wait to see more.


THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF BLING

EMBELISHMENTSEmbellishments have been popular in past prom seasons, and this year they are back and better than ever. We are seeing a lot of fully embellished looks, as well as some partly embellished looks mixed with mesh to create the desired illusion. Dresses covered in embellishments, such as this white Sherri Hill look, make the perfect statement.


RSVP for WORLD OF PROM, the nation’s #1 Prom & Social Occasion Market, taking place during the Atlanta Apparel Market on Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10, 2015. Join us for our WORLD OF PROM fashion show on Thursday, August 6 featuring prom trends for the 2016 season!

Resort Wear 2016 at Atlanta Apparel

When you think of resort wear, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Maybe you and your girlfriends lying on the beach in your most recent bikini purchase, sipping cocktails with your flip flops dangling off the side of your beach chair. Well, we have good news, resort wear does constitute the latest in bikini style, but it also includes a multitude of other styles, as well. Think loose maxi dresses, playful matching separates, oversized straw hats and even a bright colored pair of heels. When it comes to resort wear, it’s all about being on trend with the latest fashionable, summer pieces that make you feel effortless and simple, yet extremely chic.

We’ve gathered photos from our previous Atlanta Apparel Daily Struts to show you exactly what resort wear can entail. Basically, there are no limits. It can get as fancy as a killer jumpsuit, or as laid back as a kimono thrown over a stylish bikini. Take note of the styles you favor and visit us next month at the Atlanta Apparel Market to bring your retail store only the latest in resort wear 2016.


Bright Colors

AWH_PHOTO-6739Bright colors are a must for resort wear, and this jumpsuit doesn’t disappoint. It’s the perfect piece to pack for your summer vacation that can be worn for dinner and drinks mixed with other neutral accents. With it’s loose fabric that flows as you walk, we guarantee this number will turn some heads.


Playful Prints

The palm print swept just about every retail store inAWH_PHOTO-6833 some shape or form this season, and we can see it sticking around. The print on this dress mixed with other bright colors adds a “wow” factor to the simple, white shift dress. Gladiator sandals or summer heels, you choose!


Effortless Bikini

AWH_PHOTO-4057While shopping for resort wear 2016, look for pieces that can be paired with a simple, neutral bikini. Fun kimonos like this one add the perfect touch and can be included in multiple other combinations in a day-to-day summertime wardrobe.


Accessorize Light

Don’t go over board on accessories for your AWH_PHOTO-4006collection of resort wear pieces. It’s important that you choose light and you choose well. Hats play a huge part in turning a casual look into something one-of-a-kind. When it comes to jewelry, go for lighter pieces that can be worn to the pool, or thrown on with a simple maxi dress.


Summer Elegance

AWH_PHOTO-4293We might have saved the best for last. This dress screams resort wear. The incorporated bright colors , “airy” fabric and low-cut neckline all compliment the dress so well.  This flattering look will be sure to get more than a few compliments. Pair with wedges and light jewels for a complete dinner look.


For styles like these and much more, visit Atlanta Apparel, taking place August 6 – 10, 2015.