Starting Your Boutique

5 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Vendor Lists

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For aspiring or emerging boutique owners

Hey Fashionista! I love that you’re finally diving in to starting your boutique and I know you’ve been eyeing those vendor lists to give you a head start on creating your product assortment and stocking up on inventory. However, I’m going to stop you right there because you should AVOID vendor lists when starting your boutique!

Actually, avoid vendor lists at all costs. As a boutique and retail consultant of 15+ years, I teach my clients how to THINK like the big brands and how to build their brand like a Fortune 500 company. Guess what? That does NOT include selling them my, or anyone else’s, vendor lists.

Even with experience, I can’t tell you which brands to buy from for your boutique business UNLESS I did an analysis of your boutique business and target customer. Even then, I’m still not you! Your decisions make your brand unique.

If you want to grow your retail brand, YOU need to WORK for it.

If you’re a new boutique owner looking to create a unique brand, a future Fortune 500 household name, and have a product assortment that stands out from your competitors then, here’s 5 reasons why you should avoid purchasing vendor lists.

1. Avoid vendor lists because it’s a lazy approach to business research

If you’re starting a new boutique brand and your first thought is to take the easy route to just start selling, you’re already effecting your brand positioning, uniqueness and value. To be honest, if you’re serious about building and scaling a household boutique brand, you should want to take the time to do thorough research on exactly what vendors are right for your business, not what someone else is telling you is the “best” through their vendor list.

Vendor lists are a cheat out of doing the work of a startup brand. It’s a cheat out of sampling products. It’s a cheat out of an actual BRAND. You’re essentially taking someone’s else’s work, time, and research and trying to apply it to your brand. You have no idea if that vendor list is right for your brand vision and your target audience.

2. Avoid Vendor Lists to insure exclusiveness

Have you ever shopped across multiple clothing brand’s website and notice VERY similar pieces? I mean, down to the style, color, to even their product description is the exact same!

When you purchase a vendor list, how many other boutique brand owners do you think purchased that same list? If you’re doing a quick Google search on free vendor lists, or affordable vendor lists, and you click on the first few results, how many others did the same thing? If you’re on popular vendor sites, like Alibaba, searching for retail vendors and you look at the first few results because the answer’s right there, how many other’s did the same thing?

There’s no exclusiveness with vendor lists. You’re essentially slapping a logo, a different price, and brand colors on products that thousands of other retailers have too. Where’s the uniqueness in that? Yes, finding quality vendors takes time and patience. Yes, it can be overwhelming and yes it’s tempting to take shortcuts. However, think for a moment on how it will feel to offer products that’s rarely been seen before?

Styles that’s rarely been seen before? That alone adds a touch of luxury to your brand and creates value because when a customer purchases that item from you, it can’t easily be found somewhere else which makes your customer feels confident in having something that no one else may have.

3. You aren’t putting your customer FIRST

Vendor lists are selfish. In a way, you’re thinking about your benefit before you take the time to think about if your target consumer would love your product assortment from the vendor list. Also, when that vendor list was created, they weren’t thinking about your customer at all. If these vendors don’t know your ideal customer, why would you assume their product assortment are valuable to your brand?

If you need additional tools on how to fully develop your ideal customer outlook, I recommend purchasing the Ideal Customer Creation Guide

4. Vendor Lists don’t 100% align with your boutique brand

Your definition of “quality” may be completely different from what the creator of the vendor list’s definition of “quality”. The prices of products that are on these vendors list may not reflect the value that aligns with your brand. Your business is completely different from other boutique brands, or at least that’s the goal. So, if someone is saying “hey, purchase this vendor list because it’s the best of the best”, they’re doing it without even knowing your business. It’s like buying a house without seeing the blueprint or ever walking inside of it. It looks nice on the outside but, the inside isn’t tailored to your preferences.

5. It’s a waste of time and money

I mentioned before that the boutique owners who seek after and purchase vendor lists do so just to save time. However, if you think about it, after you purchase a vendor list, you still have to do some work. You still have to do some research to see if these vendors are best for your business or not. You still have to reach out to these vendors. Are these vendors responsive to emails? Can you call them? Do they have sales representatives that you can develop a relationship with? What about where and how they source their products? All of this should be taken into consideration for starting your boutique brand so, why not do this process on your own? You’re basically spending money on a list that’s not curated for your preferences, business, customers and more but researching is free.

Here’s what you should do…

So instead of wasting your time, money and effort in purchasing vendor lists, I recommend actually doing your research. You can start off by

  • Going to trade shows, like the MAGIC trade show
  • Meet with vendors
  • Touch and feel the actual products

Hopefully I convinced you to also despise vendor lists just as much as I do. Building a retail brand is HARD but it feels so much better when YOUR hard work, not someone else’s, plays a role in your success.

P.S. if you want to dig deeper into your product assortment and learn how to properly buy inventory at trade-shows like MAGIC, but also perfect your pricing, structure your online boutique with proven and repeatable strategies, join the waitlist for Breakout Fashionista, a course specifically for boutique owners who are ready to breakout and build a real brand! Click here to learn more!

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Throughout my career, I’ve worked with one-person boutiques and multi-billion dollar companies to expand their reach and grow their profits. After 15 years of corporate retail, working at Fortune 100 companies, two degrees, and a short stint working as a college professor... I said, “see ya” to the corporate world.

My guidance ignites passion, infuses purpose, inspires excellence — and makes my clients a hell of a lot more money.

HERE'S MY STORY

Yes, my name is pronounced like the princess.

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