For retailers, this winter has been been one of extremes. During last year’s holiday season, retailers suffered a slow start for their Autumn/Winter collection because of unusually warm weather.

According to data from Planalytics, a weather intelligence firm that works with retailers to plan for weather changes, sales of women’s boots in New York plunged by 24% in the first half of December. But in January this year, a blizzard hit Washington and New York, opening the opportunity for retailers to finally sell their cold-weather gear.

There’s only one catch, as pointed out by Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners: “If you made it through to Jan. 22 without buying a new parka because it was so warm this year, there is a good chance you may wait.” However, while customers may be reluctant to open their wallets to purchase a new coat, they are more likely to consider buying small winter accessories like scarves, hats, or gloves.
cold-weather accessories merchandising

This propensity for customers to choose accessories over clothes is independent of seasons, and the numbers are telling. The apparel side of women’s fashion has been running negative numbers, but accessories sales are booming. In the case of retailer Michael Kors, a company spokeswoman mentioned that accessories and related merchandise accounted for 75% of total revenue.

So as a business owner, how can you capitalize on the popularity of accessories and use these to grow your business?

  1. Learn the value of accessories to your business

    When it comes to knowing how much of your sales volume comes from accessories, having intelligence reports about your business will be invaluable.

    With intelligence reports, you’ll be able to sort your products by sales and see your top-sellers. You’ll also be able to filter these according to specific time frames. For example, you’ll know whether it’s better to invest more in summer or winter accessories based on historical data.

    You’ll also be able to filter your reports by location, which will be useful if you’re selling internationally. For example, if you’re based in Australia, it’s summer in December, but you may consider selling scarves in December to cater to customers in the Northern Hemisphere.
  2. Plan how much you want to generate from accessory sales and act accordingly

    If you’re looking to increase the amount of revenue generated through accessory sales, you’ll need to dedicate more time and effort to this aspect of your business.

    In the case of brick-and-mortar retailers, a good place to start would be by ensuring your retail space reflects your intention. That means if you’re looking to generate 25% of your revenue through accessory sales, you’ll need to dedicate 25% of your retail space to selling accessories.

    For online retailers, your home page doubles up as your retail space. If accessories are to be a key business driver for your brand, they need to be treated as such. By placing attractive photos of your accessories on the home page, customers will be more likely to click on the “Accessories” tab if they have an idea of what’s on sale.
    If you’re looking to increase the retail space dedicated to accessories, you’re likely to find yourself looking into increasing your SKU count. However, you may find yourself overwhelmed by a multitude of small items.

    If that happens, getting inventory management software can help you out when it comes to managing reorder points. And if you’re selling online, you’ll also be able to enjoy inventory level updates across the board and monitor the performance of your top-sellers.
  3. Start cross-selling accessories that complement your top sellers

    Cross-selling occurs when you offer products related to the original item your customer is interested in.

    Accessories provide great cross-selling opportunities because they complement the original item. For example, you have a mannequin in your store dressed in your top-selling winter coat. Adding a printed scarf to the look can add further dimension to the look while inspiring customers to pick up one for themselves along the way.

    And once that scarf sells out, remember to replace the one on the mannequin with a new design.

    If you’re selling online, you can include a lifestyle shot of the coat paired with the scarf in your product photos. In addition, you can also offer a list of related items that can include other accessories that will match the look. 

While I’ve focused on fashion in this post, the tips raised here are also applicable to other industries. If you’re selling outdoor equipment, you can also look to improve your accessory offerings by ensuring you have dedicated store space to showcase these working in tandem with your key business drivers—like adding fishing lures to all your fishing rods.



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