Home – New Forums Logistics Distributor refuses to supply – now what?

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  • #987963
    GlassHalfFull
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    Hi there,

    Around 2 weeks ago I posted here about setting up an e-commerce website, and you were all very helpful, so thanks :)

    Now I have to ask about something that has been going on for awhile. About 2 months ago I started looking into distributors for my new lingerie store, because financially I needed to know what prices I was looking at, and also so I could be prepared for when my store does open. At the moment the estimated time of opening is around a month, or less.

    Basically I’ve contacted the Australian distributor of a lingerie brand which was always going to be very integral to my business – they are 1 company that manufacture mostly bras, marketed as 4 sub-brands (so in a sense it’s four different brands that I’m trying to get, all owned by the same company).

    The distributor firstly said flat out no because I’m going to be selling online. After persistence I’ve managed to get her on the phone twice to discuss things in more detail. Her reasoning for not supplying to me is mainly to do with things that are completely out of my control – ie: other business failing, lots of businesses stocking the brand, Paypal fees, etc.

    To cut this short, I am totally disheartened, and don’t really understand why this is so difficult. If I were selling general clothing I feel I could easily find some kind of substitute, but in this case there is nothing. This brand is one of the only brands that manufactures certain extended sizes.

    Where can I go from here? Has anyone else been in this kind of situation?

    I feel like there is a potential conflict of interest as the distributor also has her own online store selling this brand.

    Thanks.

    #1164985
    Lucinda Lions
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    Hi GlassHalfFull

    First of all, love your forum name.

    I can totally understand why you’re disheartened. It’s interesting that there aren’t any other distributors within Australia you can contact. That being the case, is it worth contacting someone outside Australia? There are probably good reasons why you haven’t gone down that path though.

    I hope you can find a solution and that your glass remains half full.

    Lucinda :)

    #1164986
    ITManager
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    Some suggestions you may wish to consider:

    1. Maybe not all manufactures have exclusive agreement with distributors and they sometimes are happy to deal with SMEs willing to re-sell their products. This is the case in Organic Food Industry where most manufactures are willing to supply to SMEs if you wish not to go through distributors. Of course there are lot of pros and cons including how much stock you have to buy and shipping charges, etc. But just an option to consider specially because you are interested in this one manufacturer in particular.

    2. This option maybe little bold and may work out better at the end for you. Considering there are so many manufacturers overseas – you can probably get the garments manufactured under YOUR own brand name and promote them online via your website. If you are facing this problem – there may be others facing similar hurdles too – so you may wish to supply to other e-retailers who may wish to stock your products. It was interesting to find out that manufacturing process to a very great extend has become a out of box solution. For an example in your industry – there are pre-defined attributes like Size, Texture, Material, Colours, Fit, Button Styles, Add-ons, Lace and its add-ons, etc. You can pick and choose to make it suit your need. In fact you could also offer service similar to https://www.shoesofprey.com/ for your industry, where people can design their own garment and have it made to order. Dealing with overseas manufacturer in an unknown territory can be a challenge, but there are many brokers and middle-man type agencies who can take care of the whole process for you including manufacturing, testing, checking, importing, etc.

    I only wanted to show you other options that may be available for you to consider.

    #1164987
    GlassHalfFull
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    Lucinda Lions, post: 190999 wrote:
    Hi GlassHalfFull

    First of all, love your forum name.

    I can totally understand why you’re disheartened. It’s interesting that there aren’t any other distributors within Australia you can contact. That being the case, is it worth contacting someone outside Australia? There are probably good reasons why you haven’t gone down that path though.

    I hope you can find a solution and that your glass remains half full.

    Lucinda :)

    Hi Lucinda

    Thanks :)

    Funnily enough there’s two distributors in New Zealand, I contacted both of them and was told that the company wont allow them to distribute anywhere but their designated country/region.

    At first I thought I could somehow resolve this and would eventually get the brand but now I’m panicking because I don’t know how I’ll ever be competitive without it. When I went into this the last thing I thought I’d have major issues with was getting people to take my money. Logically, I thought that a company would want to distribute their product.

    Is this kind of thing normal? I wonder whether this happens in other industries?

    Thanks for responding!

    #1164988
    Jenny Spring
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    GlassHalfFull, post: 191005 wrote:
    Hi Lucinda

    Thanks :)

    Funnily enough there’s two distributors in New Zealand, I contacted both of them and was told that the company wont allow them to distribute anywhere but their designated country/region.

    At first I thought I could somehow resolve this and would eventually get the brand but now I’m panicking because I don’t know how I’ll ever be competitive without it. When I went into this the last thing I thought I’d have major issues with was getting people to take my money. Logically, I thought that a company would want to distribute their product.

    Is this kind of thing normal? I wonder whether this happens in other industries?

    Thanks for responding!

    Hello
    Sorry to hear you are having this trouble.

    Firstly, I want to check that the Australian distributor of a brand is unwilling to supply that product to you? Is that correct? Just checking that we have the terminology correct?

    And when you contacted the brand directly, they also refused you? Or did they refer you back to the distributor?

    I’m a little confused about your initial email.

    THere are many brands that will prefer not to work with online shops. It is their decision, and they do this mostly because they get in trouble with the retailers they supply. Bricks and mortar retailers aren’t always happy if the brand can be found online, because of the perception they may have that you will discount the brand.

    This is where it often comes from.

    The brand is simply trying to protect their market share with their existing retailers.

    I had my own brand for 10 years, and so I know how this channel conflict can cause a lot of frustration for the brand owner. Retailers — sometimes – can be narrow minded about online businesses, and they then tell the brand that they won’t stock their product because of this.

    I hope this helps you.

    Jenny

    #1164989
    GlassHalfFull
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    Jenny Spring, post: 191018 wrote:
    Hello
    Sorry to hear you are having this trouble.

    Firstly, I want to check that the Australian distributor of a brand is unwilling to supply that product to you? Is that correct? Just checking that we have the terminology correct?

    And when you contacted the brand directly, they also refused you? Or did they refer you back to the distributor?

    I’m a little confused about your initial email.

    THere are many brands that will prefer not to work with online shops. It is their decision, and they do this mostly because they get in trouble with the retailers they supply. Bricks and mortar retailers aren’t always happy if the brand can be found online, because of the perception they may have that you will discount the brand.

    This is where it often comes from.

    The brand is simply trying to protect their market share with their existing retailers.

    I had my own brand for 10 years, and so I know how this channel conflict can cause a lot of frustration for the brand owner. Retailers — sometimes – can be narrow minded about online businesses, and they then tell the brand that they won’t stock their product because of this.

    I hope this helps you.

    Jenny

    Hi

    That’s something I hadn’t thought about! Makes more sense now…

    Sorry if it was confusing – I’ve contacted the Australian distributor 3 times and been either told “no” or “not now”. The first time I emailed and was told that she was doing a evaluation of online retailers she supplies to, and no she can’t supply to me at this time. I wasn’t ready to give up, so I messaged her back and we had a chat on the phone where I was given a lot of excuses and told that she had a meeting with the company in 2 weeks time and to call back then.

    2 weeks later I call again and she tells me flat out no, more excuses and then tells me that she has a meeting with the company in 4 weeks and will know more after that.

    I can’t help but feel I’m being put off.

    I’ve contacted the company twice now (the first time probably several months ago) and haven’t had any response from them.

    It is very frustrating because despite the claims by the distributor that this brand can be found almost everywhere, It really can’t. I know of only one walk-in/online store that stock the brand in South Australia but they don’t stock all styles and sizes, and none of the ones that I would want to. I would actually say it’s a very hard to find brand…. I guess now I know why!

    Thanks for responding, again sorry for the confusion! Just not sure what steps to take next or whether I’ll ever get this brand.

    Lily

    #1164990
    Jenny Spring
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    GlassHalfFull, post: 191066 wrote:
    Hi

    I’ve contacted the company twice now (the first time probably several months ago) and haven’t had any response from them.

    It is very frustrating because despite the claims by the distributor that this brand can be found almost everywhere, It really can’t. I know of only one walk-in/online store that stock the brand in South Australia but they don’t stock all styles and sizes, and none of the ones that I would want to. I would actually say it’s a very hard to find brand…. I guess now I know why!

    Lily
    Hi Lily

    There is something else going on.

    Consider this.

    A distributor buys product from a brand, and then onsells that product for a profit. They want new clients.

    If the distributor doesn’t want to speak to you, then here are two things that might be occuring:

    1. the brand is considering cancelling their distributor agreement
    2. the brand is unable to supply products

    I’d suggest you go back to the brand and contact them via their website and also their Facebook page and say that you have contacted the Australian Distributor as you are keen to purchase the range to use in your store, and that you have not been able to purchase products.

    See if you get a response to that request.

    If you don’t — the brand is probably going out of business, and you are best finding a replacement asap.

    Jenny

    #1164991
    GlassHalfFull
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    Jenny Spring, post: 191067 wrote:
    Hi Lily

    There is something else going on.

    Consider this.

    A distributor buys product from a brand, and then onsells that product for a profit. They want new clients.

    If the distributor doesn’t want to speak to you, then here are two things that might be occuring:

    1. the brand is considering cancelling their distributor agreement
    2. the brand is unable to supply products

    I’d suggest you go back to the brand and contact them via their website and also their Facebook page and say that you have contacted the Australian Distributor as you are keen to purchase the range to use in your store, and that you have not been able to purchase products.

    See if you get a response to that request.

    If you don’t — the brand is probably going out of business, and you are best finding a replacement asap.

    Jenny

    I hadn’t thought of that either! I think it’s more likely that perhaps they’re cancelling the distributor agreement… If she is in fact having that many meetings with the company, I find it a bit unusual. I mean I don’t know much about what distributors get up to, but isn’t two meetings within a few months a bit too often?

    I mentioned the issues I was having getting the brand while on the phone to a separate distributor and she said “yes, she’s burned a few people”.

    I definitely planned on contacting the company again but I wasn’t sure how pushy I should be. Facebook page is a good idea :)

    Thanks for responding! It’s good to get some outside perspectives.

    #1164992
    bluepenguin
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    Without trying to sound rude, it seems like you just expect that they’ll cater to your every demand because you want them to.

    It’s obvious that there would be a lot of benefit in it for you, but thinking from their perspective, what’s in it for them?

    If you’re successful, they may make a little bit of profit for their efforts (which after the costs of production and administration would be a lot less than what you pay for the products), but from their point of view, would making a few hundred/thousands of dollars be worth the risk of losing money or having their focus distracted from something more lucrative?

    There may be a way to get through to them, but you really need to see it from their perspective as both the manufacturers and distributors are running a business like you are and have the same risks and concerns as you do, just on a larger scale.

    #1164993
    GlassHalfFull
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    bluepenguin, post: 191086 wrote:
    Without trying to sound rude, it seems like you just expect that they’ll cater to your every demand because you want them to.

    It’s obvious that there would be a lot of benefit in it for you, but thinking from their perspective, what’s in it for them?

    If you’re successful, they may make a little bit of profit for their efforts (which after the costs of production and administration would be a lot less than what you pay for the products), but from their point of view, would making a few hundred/thousands of dollars be worth the risk of losing money or having their focus distracted from something more lucrative?

    There may be a way to get through to them, but you really need to see it from their perspective as both the manufacturers and distributors are running a business like you are and have the same risks and concerns as you do, just on a larger scale.

    I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say. As a distributor, I imagine their goal is to, well… distribute. I don’t know what I can offer a distributor other than my money, promotion of the manufacturers product, and as I’m a trained bra fitter I will be able to get customers into the right fitting bra.

    The distributor never asked me how much I intend to order – we haven’t gotten that far. I feel like she’s put more effort into putting me off than she could have actually selling me the product.

    I understand that there are bigger fish in the sea and that it might take some time before I’m able to get the product, but there’s been very little communication of this. It’s just been “no”.

    #1164994
    GlassHalfFull
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    ITManager, post: 191003 wrote:
    Some suggestions you may wish to consider:

    1. Maybe not all manufactures have exclusive agreement with distributors and they sometimes are happy to deal with SMEs willing to re-sell their products. This is the case in Organic Food Industry where most manufactures are willing to supply to SMEs if you wish not to go through distributors. Of course there are lot of pros and cons including how much stock you have to buy and shipping charges, etc. But just an option to consider specially because you are interested in this one manufacturer in particular.

    2. This option maybe little bold and may work out better at the end for you. Considering there are so many manufacturers overseas – you can probably get the garments manufactured under YOUR own brand name and promote them online via your website. If you are facing this problem – there may be others facing similar hurdles too – so you may wish to supply to other e-retailers who may wish to stock your products. It was interesting to find out that manufacturing process to a very great extend has become a out of box solution. For an example in your industry – there are pre-defined attributes like Size, Texture, Material, Colours, Fit, Button Styles, Add-ons, Lace and its add-ons, etc. You can pick and choose to make it suit your need. In fact you could also offer service similar to https://www.shoesofprey.com/ for your industry, where people can design their own garment and have it made to order. Dealing with overseas manufacturer in an unknown territory can be a challenge, but there are many brokers and middle-man type agencies who can take care of the whole process for you including manufacturing, testing, checking, importing, etc.

    I only wanted to show you other options that may be available for you to consider.

    Sorry, I didn’t see your response until just now!

    Thanks for the suggestions, it’s kind of crazy to me that a company would rather push someone into starting their own competitive brand than supplying to them. I have thought about looking into getting things manufactured, I wonder what costs I’d be looking at — I think it is something I’d like to do eventually.

    I messaged the company on Facebook last night so hopefully I get some contact soon, it seems others have had trouble getting hold of them as well.

    It’s interesting to hear about what goes on in other industries, I think in fashion there’s a desire to keep a brand somewhat exclusive, which is maybe why I’m not being responded to in my emails.

    Thanks again :)

    #1164995
    Cats
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    Hello,

    From a different industry (we manufacture skin care), I can give you a couple of pointers.
    1. You would be competition with her if she sells online and you also sell online.
    2. From how I understand it, she is purchasing at Distributor prices and selling at retail which is quite lucrative for her.
    3. I wouldn’t say the company is going out of business. They may be just simply too busy to reply to you (and it is her job to do so), you are small in the scheme of things, or they may have an Agreement with the Distributor that that are ‘not allowed’ to have any contact with potential customers of the Distributor. (It happens, believe me, some Distributors can make life hard).
    4. If you want to PM me I could possibly give you some advice.

    #1164996
    AngusMcKinnon
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    My 2 cents is I wouldn’t want to build a business where I am at the whim of a single supplier. Have you looked for alternatives manufacturing / distributing similar products? Approach their competitor perhaps and see if they will do a deal.

    #1164997
    Cats
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    AngusMcKinnon, post: 191168 wrote:
    My 2 cents is I wouldn’t want to build a business where I am at the whim of a single supplier. Have you looked for alternatives manufacturing / distributing similar products? Approach their competitor perhaps and see if they will do a deal.

    You are right Angus, it wouldn’t be a good idea to be relying on just one supplier as you could be left high and dry.
    Manufacturing your own is a HUGE job and will take a lot of effort, time and money. Once made you then have the job of marketing which again costs a lot of money.

    #1164998
    GlassHalfFull
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    AngusMcKinnon, post: 191168 wrote:
    My 2 cents is I wouldn’t want to build a business where I am at the whim of a single supplier. Have you looked for alternatives manufacturing / distributing similar products? Approach their competitor perhaps and see if they will do a deal.

    I feel the same way… At this stage manufacturing is not an option, I just don’t have the funds (or the know-how). Basically it’s very tricky because as far as fuller bust bra brands go, there are only two major players. The one which I’m trying to get is probably the biggest of the two. There is no similar product that currently exists.

    I have been able to source the competitive brand (which was a relatively pain free process compared to this one), but they have a much smaller range and I don’t see how my business would ever grow without having the other.

    The more I think about it all the more I think that I might have to scrap this business idea all together. I just didn’t think it would end this way!

    Thanks for the response, I suppose I need to decide what I’m going to do now.

    Lily

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