Mode paiement

[Fashion] - 4 tips to make payments easier and more secure in Europe and the US

Mode paiement

For fashion brands, the European and United States markets are strategically very important. But there are some risks when it comes to payments, especially with department stores and e-commerce sites. Anke Glaser, General Manager of Webhelp Payment Services for Central Europe, offers some advice.

1. Fashion brands should make the most of the momentum driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites

Over the last 2 or 3 years – and especially since the health crisis – online sales have really flourished in the fashion industry, both in Europe and in the United States. This growth is mainly due to department stores, which already have a digital strategy, and e-commerce platforms.
This trend is explained by companies investing more and more in digital technology generally – in England, spending on websites and online sales platforms went up by 30% in one year. In the United States, department stores can account for up to 70% of suppliers’ turnover. We can also see this trend in Spain where the leading Spanish department store has made its digital development a major focus in its development strategy.
We therefore recommend taking full advantage of this momentum, driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites, because we think it’s one that is going to last!
However, while digital strategies are undeniably seeing a surge, we remain convinced that the physical component is still vital, and that the crisis will lead to an offering that combines human and digital solutions.

2. Protect yourself against the problem of deductions

Brands have to comply with the conditions imposed by department stores and e-commerce platforms, which generally have very strict rules, at the risk of having to deal with chargebacks. In practice, whichever country you’re in, department stores and platforms rarely make a payment for just one invoice. Usually, they send us a payment advice: a document summarising all the invoices to be paid. Added to these are debit notes or chargebacks that are deducted from the payments. For a brand, it is important to be aware that these practices, which can be for many different reasons, are widespread.
Webhelp Payment Services manages debit notes directly for department stores and platforms. We check them, as agreed with the brand, and if the deductions are not totally justified, we dispute them with the department store or the platform. Our regular contact with the stores and platforms means that we can speed up the processes and so resolve any disputes faster.
Every year, this work by our experts, dedicated exclusively to managing these key accounts, helps our clients’ brands recover substantial amounts of money, as well as giving them a clear overview of the buyer’s current situation.
The benefit: if the Order to Cash process is under control, those involved in distribution generally pay on time.

3. Know how to manage the complexity of accounting documents for department stores and e-commerce platforms and avoid mistakes

Each season, brands receive documents with a lot of items to reconcile, from department stores and platforms. This involves a considerable amount of work for their accountants!
We have developed a specific reconciliation and comparison tool for documents that come from department stores and platforms. It makes the accounts much easier to understand, and means we can analyse the source of chargebacks.
Our dedicated customer platform allows clients to find all the information and all the payments in one place. It is here, for example, that any deductions will be clearly shown. This document provides a good basis for the interaction between us, the brand, and the department store or e-commerce platform.

4. Digitise your data exchanges

The relationship between department stores, platforms, and sellers is also going digital. Implementing this digital process is really useful when it comes to optimising your cash flow with these different stakeholders. Indeed, in addition to the speed of transmission via EDI, it also means that you can check to make sure that invoices have been received, and act promptly if the invoice is rejected or incomplete. This means we can reduce delays to invoice payments, but also lots of chargebacks that might not be due.
We are currently working on setting up EDI with the many department stores and e-platforms so that we can offer our clients simple, unique access, whilst also relieving them of the technical work specific to each buyer. Why not take advantage of it?

 

With 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury, Webhelp Payment Services can be both a personal advisor and a facilitator, not only for department stores and e-commerce platforms, but also for retail distribution. We are currently working with 400 ready-to-wear brands with a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and the United States.

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Fashion: sales agents role

[Fashion] "Sales agents play a key role in brand development!"

Fashion: sales agents role

Jérôme Tordjmann runs the Talk sales agency, specialising in urban fashion and streetwear, in both physical and digital environments. He answers 4 questions put to him by Aline Abeya, Sales Manager France & Benelux at Webhelp Payment Services.

The role of a sales agent is to help fashion brands, whether they are emerging or well established, to grow in a market. And in these complex times, they play the even bigger role of a facilitator. So at Webhelp Payment Services, we pay particular attention to our relationship with sales agents, to whom we offer a comprehensive range of payment services. Your agency, Talk, specialises in urban fashion and streetwear. Can you tell us a bit more about what you do?

Jérôme Tordjmann: I set up the Talk agency and have been running it since June 2019. It’s one of the subsidiaries of JV Fashion which I established in 2006. Talk specialises in urban fashion and streetwear for men and women on a B2B basis.

Our team of 7 people offers selective or comprehensive support in 3 areas:

managing sales in France and around the world (business development, sales, after-sales), with the overall management of billing, payments and debt collection taken care of in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services

creating temporary sales outlets: in-store corners, pop-up shops and shop-in shops (Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Samaritaine, etc.), as well as recruiting and managing teams, training, merchandising and logistics. We also have a permanent showroom in central Paris, and we rent temporary showrooms during the fashion weeks in January and June.

– organisational consultancy: marketing, positioning, creating or adapting collections, artistic direction. We work alongside brands in all these areas, in both physical and digital environments – in the phygital world if you like. As far as the digital world is concerned, we can help brands with marketplaces like Zalando and Amazon which are becoming more and more influential from a commercial point of view.

So to sum up, we help a lot with “value creation”: sales agents play a key role in developing fashion brands!

To give you an idea of how well Talk is growing, our turnover has doubled each season.

Can you describe the kind of brands that you work with?

J.T.: They are often European brands, and exclusively involved in young, urban fashion and streetwear. We want to build and promote a really consistent world.

We work regularly with around fifteen brands, including: Daily Paper, ARTE Antwerp, Foret, The New Originals, Libertador, Mercer, Ksubi, Shaka, Rise of Human and Dechase.

Webhelp Payment Services offers sales agents a comprehensive range of payment services, from billing to debt collection, both nationally and internationally. And of course paying the agent their share after being paid by the client brand. What does your partnership look like?

J.T.: I’ve been working with Webhelp Payment Services since 2006, when it was called FDI. Talk’s clients are mainly adopting solutions like order analysis, payment plans, debt collection, credit insurance and customer scoring, both in France and internationally.

So at the moment we are not using the other services that Webhelp Payment Services offers sales agents, such as imports, logistics, paying commissions and KYC.

We are also in discussions with Webhelp Payment Services about offering some emerging brands the chance to embrace processes geared towards wholesale management. This is so that we can work together to help them grow in areas such as managing customer receivables, multi-brand stores and other strategic organisational issues.

How do you see the future of fashion brands in an era of marketplaces and online stores?

J.T.: Quite apart from the pandemic, online sales are booming. These sales compensate, sometimes to a large extent, for the decline in business for multi-brand retailers for example.

So clearly, we need to think about the development of large generalist marketplaces, like Zalando and Amazon, as well as more specialist platforms. We help brands within this environment, which is often new to them.

However, I sincerely believe that opposition to online shops is no longer a big deal. On the contrary, we are seeing the rise of a phygital approach, combining sales in physical stores with digital channels, trying to find the right balance.

The most dynamic emerging brands understand this: I can see that all the ones that we work with have an online store, which gives them a revenue stream, consolidates their financial and commercial position, and lastly, speeds up their growth.

Therefore, a phygital approach is a real opportunity for fashion brands, if they know how to manage it!

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Outsourcing your receivables management to boost your business

Companies outsource primarily to cut costs. But today, it is not only about cutting costs but also about reaping the benefits of strategic outsourcing such as accessing skilled expertise, reducing overhead, flexible staffing, and increasing efficiency, reducing turnaround time and eventually generating more profit. When it comes to receivables management and its implications on an international scale, you are facing multiple practices requiring a vast range of skills such as:

  • Customer identification and risk assessment;
  • Credit insurance management and credit limit decisions;
  • Decisions on terms and method of payment;
  • Handling of orders;
  • Recovery processes;
  • Customer service and complaints management;
  • Payment allocation and transfers of receivable to suppliers bank accounts;
  • Legal and pre-legal claims management;
  • Problems identification and problem solving.

Benefits of outsourcing with Webhelp Payment Services

Webhelp Payment Services partners and clients have experienced numerous benefits from our outsourcing solutions. Some of them are:

  • Access to skilled and highly trained expertise;
  • Increased in-house efficiency;
  • Increased the quality of your client portfolio;
  • Increased customer satisfaction;
  • Reduced internal costs;
  • Increased turnover;
  • A drastic optimization of the DSO (Daily Standard Outstanding);
  • Strengthen business relationship with the customers due to the decreased number of disputes.

Impact on your organization

Companies are increasingly sensitive to the strategic aspect of their cash flow situation, and therefore to the management of their debts.

In today’s world “cash is king”. The cash flow is a key component for a successful business. A functional debt recovery procedure is now a top priority of many officers.

  • What level of risk am I prepared to accept?
  • What payment terms am I able to arrange for my customers?
  • What attitude do I need to assume when payment problems arise?

This is directly linked to changes put in place within many innovative businesses, to adapt to the new commercial context:

  • Focusing on the core activity;
  • Streamlining costs;
  • Profiting from the experience and unique skills of a partner;
  • Growing your flexibility;
  • Focusing management and investments on strategic functions;
  • Simplifying non-strategic processes.

The positive impacts on business organizations include:

  • Immediate access to the most advanced processes and tools;
  • A variable cost model;
  • Improved cash flow situation;
  • A better image of your professional presence in the international markets.

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[Fashion] Growing your business without cash flow problems!

Growing your fashion brand without having to worry about cash flow problems? This is the kind of service that Webhelp Payment Services and Lea Trade together propose to French and international fashion, footwear and accessories companies.

Which companies are concerned?

Whether set up recently or established for several years, some fashion brands face procurement problems, often associated with early payment of their suppliers.

"We are sometimes called upon to help newish brands, or well-established brands that are going through a period of stagnation, or even a slight downturn," explains Aline Abeya, Sales Manager, France & Benelux, for Webhelp Payment Services. "These companies are often faced with bank restrictions, and this can affect their supplier credit and the development of their business."

Typical case:

A company is unable to pay its suppliers, situated abroad. Its revenue is insufficient or stagnant, and its ratios do not allow it to obtain the credit lines requested from the banks or the suppliers.

Yet it is not uncommon for Webhelp Payment Services to be on terms with, or even already to manage, the end customers of said company: in which case, the latter can entrust its accounts receivable to Webhelp Payment Services. In turn, in the framework of an exclusive partnership, Webhelp Payment Services can task Lea Trade with paying the suppliers concerned.

To summarise, therefore: the company submits its invoices to Webhelp Payment Services, which collects the payments, and passes them on to Lea Trade for reimbursement. The solution can be implemented quickly and easily!

Supporting a brand's strategic developments

To face growing competition and longer payment deadlines, many modest or average-sized players are changing their strategy. They often try to redeploy over the web, in particular moving toward B2B marketplaces.

For example, Webhelp Payment Services manages all the financial transactions of the shoesfromspain.com marketplace, created by the Spanish footwear association.

And since September 2018, Webhelp Payment Services has managed the B2B marketplace of premierevision.com, the international trade show for fashion procurement.

"For Webhelp Payment Services and Lea Trade alike, the challenge consists in being able to support brands, whatever the chosen distribution model, and whatever the change they wish to undertake!", concludes Aline Abeya.

 

 


[Fashion] Take advantage of the “Made in Spain” boom

In recent years, the "Made in Spain" tag-line has positioned itself like never before in the fashion footwear area. It has become a "brand" associated with comfort, quality and design, with excellent value for money. A recognition that opens the doors to footwear firms when entering the most demanding markets.

Fashion Made in spain in the US market

One of them is the United States. A complicated market due to its size, payment methods, logistics, but above all, for the structure and mentality of the distribution. This is a challenge for many footwear companies that consider their expansion in this country as an opportunity. Proof of this is the constant increase of Spanish footwear exports to this country, which tops the table of consumers outside of the European Union.

In the first five months of 2018, the United States increased its purchases by 11%. The average price stands at 46 euros, one of the highest in the world for Spanish footwear, and it continues to grow around 20% in the same period. Despite these statistics, the penetration of these brands is not as what is desired expected.

There is a large potential for growth for Spanish companies

There is a large potential for growth for Spanish companies who operate in a country where consumer behaviour is very positive and accepting of the recognised "Made in Spain" footwear, which is on the rise.

The largest segment growth was the "Millennials" who search for luxury and premium brands. According to several studies, this group currently represents 70% of the total volume of sales. Millennials are young people between the ages of 28 and 36, with a high income, excellent education and who prefer to be self-employed and developing their own projects. They are also the largest "age group" in the history of mankind.

"Millennials" choose brands that have a history. They have a keen interest in everything that is part of and that surrounds a product, as well as its quality and design. It’s an excellent opportunity for companies that have products aimed at this consumer group which is going from strength to strength.

The particularities of this market rely on having either agents or distributors. The relationship with department stores is complicated when you don’t know how they operate. These groups, independent stores and online companies, demand that you provide an exact price list for their market, as well as logistics and a strict commitment to the shipping times; In addition, they especially value the existence of stock with fast shipping.

Webhelp Payment Services has been present in the US market for 20 years.

There are more than 50 European fashion brands that have trusted the French multinational, right from their beginnings, to manage their sales in this market.

Angelo Ippoliti, CEO of Webhelp Logbox USA confirms the growing interest in Spanish footwear in the United States. The "Made in Spain" is valued by independent and department stores alike. The clothing and footwear are convincing due to their quality, design and value for money, even to the detriment of "Made in Italy". It is a time when various positive factors come together to favour the introduction of Spanish brands. The potential for growth is very promising thanks to the activation of the consumer market."

In line with the reality of the market, Webhelp Logbox USA has created a customised service, specific to this market. "Runbox: Corporation and Retail management services", launched in 2010 by Webhelp Logbox USA.

Runbox: a Corporation and Retail management services

Runbox provides all the necessary support to those companies that wish to enter the United States market. Companies with a turnover of more than 1.5 million euros, that are committed to innovation, are growing in a fast and constant manner. Its success is based, in part, on thFe trust placed in Runbox that manages its organizational structure thanks to BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). They thus concentrate their own growth strategy and build solid long-term bases and alliances with the most competent partners in each case.

As Angelo Ippoliti explains, "it is fundamental to decide the distribution channel, prepare the list of final prices "on-site", calculate taxes, implement logistic strategies and manage credit and payments. Also, dealing with the department stores is complicated." Currently, the figure of the agent prevails over that of the distributor, as long as they have a solid support in the management of payments, logistics, stock, amongst other factors. 75% of independent stores work with cheque payments on 60-day terms. The department stores pay on 30-day terms and always by cheque, whilst online stores and other chains pay by cheque on 30-day terms.

With Runbox, the company has a subsidiary in the United States that perfectly handles and knows the strategy of price penetration, the international brand image, the dynamics in the opening of "flagship store", the implementation of electronic commerce, in addition to providing a solution for the "duties".

Companies that are committed to internationalization know that it is necessary to develop a plan on a global level, with teams that are geographically, culturally and structurally apart.


Webhelp Payment Services has had an experienced team trained in international credit management for the last 30 years. It is an approved payment entity with financial strength. It has the capacity to assist companies in the international arena, with the appropriate resources for each case and always connected to the interbank swifnet network.

 

Author : Maite Ruiz Atela 


Tips to optimise your business’ cash flow

Priscilla Jokhoo, Business Services Director at the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin, who has organised the Paris Traffic fashion trade fair for the last three years, began by saying, "Fashion seasonality leads to very long cycles: between the time you create a garment and the time it brings you your first euro - about 18 months - you will spend your time writing cheques!"

Priscilla Jokhoo assists around a hundred brands a year on a daily basis, at each stage of their economic development. Her verdict is clear: "Most failures are not due to a bad product or bad positioning, but occur for two reasons: lack of structuring, and/or too rapid growth. Remember that this is impossible: you can only self-fund".

Anticipate your working capital requirements

Cash flow structure varies according to the stages of a brand's development. This principle shows, for example, that accounts payable are relatively more important for a young company.

"When you start your business, you will have leverage on accounts receivable, but little leverage on accounts payable. Then, when the company is over three years old and can prove its financial health, it can negotiate with its suppliers, which will reduce its liabilities. But your B2B customers will ask you for payment terms", explained Aline Abeya, France & Benelux Sales Manager at Webhelp Payment Services.

As a result, cash flow levels vary greatly from one stage to another and may decrease sharply, putting the company in difficulty. Anticipation is therefore essential!

Watch your credit ratings

"Your credit ratings are crucial over the entire life of your business. They are issued by the main credit insurers and rating agencies that analyse corporate balance sheets and are connected to national sources of banking incidents and failures. All suppliers throughout the world can access at least one of these sources that gives you a credit rating. You must also make your business social security and VAT payments without delay because they affect your credit ratings", Aline Abeya recommended.

Another recommendation: send your first balance sheet to the three main credit insurers: Euler Hermes, Atradius and Coface.

"You must communicate with them at every stage of your business life. If you have had to cope with a difficult situation, you must explain the reaons and the solutions adopted," explained Aline Abeya.

What is the advantage of a good credit rating? It gives you leverage to negotiate with your national and international suppliers. For example, you can try to find a contract-based solution over several seasons: your supplier may then be able to grant you discounts.

Leverage best practices with your customers

Several recommendations involving customers will avoid unpaid or late payments:

  • use a specialist lawyer to draw up solid General Terms and Conditions of Sale (GTCS)
  • insist on signed Purchase Orders, without exception!
  • ensure that invoices are properly drawn up in accordance with the standards and practices of the countries concerned
  • issue an invoice upon delivery
  • request payments before delivery if you are a young company
  • carry out quality control prior to delivery.

And Priscilla Jokhoo added: "In many situations, I have found that certain customers have exploited loopholes in poorly drafted GTCS! You should also pay close attention to your customers' General Conditions of Purchase (GCP), for example, with respect to returning unsold items".

Use leverage to improve cash flow

Positive leverage effects on your cash flow: in the case of a first order, you should not hesitate to require a deposit payment, usually 30%.

"Your customer can very well understand that you expect him to make a real commitment to your brand, and not just an order "to see how it goes", Aline Abeya pointed out.

Also note the possibility of granting a 0.5 to 3% cash payment discount.

Webhelp Payment Services manages the accounts receivable as soon as the order is placed. In practice, once you have made a delivery, it is potentially too late, as the payment method or time may not have been appropriate to your customer's situation.

"Webhelp Payment Services gives you prior recommendations about orders with respect to the country where your customer is located: this is very important because it reduces the risks of non-payment at the order stage. Webhelp Payment Services' assistance extends to the collection of multi-country and multi-currency funds", said Aline ABEYA.

On the strength of its experience in the textile market, Webhelp Payment Services has entered into partnerships with financial institutions that rely on its wholesale management services to help brands source and finance their sales.

> To receive the pdf of the "Cash is king" presentation at the 2018 Traffic fashion trade fair, do not hesitate to ask Aline Abeya.

 

 


Tips to conquer an Italian market

Italy is a priority market for fashion and ready-to-wear brands, hence the dedicated Italy workshop that took place during the 2018 Traffic trade show. Here we give you an overview and top tips from Anne-Laure Druguet, Director of Projects at the Fédération Française de Prêt à Porter Féminin, and Claudio Milani, CEO of Webhelp Payment Services in Italy and Greece.

"Italy is France's number 1 customer, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States," says Anne-Laure Druguet, Director of Projects at the Fédération Française de Prêt à Porter Féminin, who specialises in helping French brands export.

In fact, the nature of the Italian market appears to make it an unmissable opportunity for France's ready-to-wear brands:

  • €66 billion annually, with a positive trend
  • 10.5% of France's exports in terms of value (up 7.1% on 2016)
  • In 2016, Italian women spent 10 billion euros on clothes, with the Italian menswear sales volume approaching 7 billion euros.
  • Distribution: mainly through franchises, chain stores and the retail sector (47%), followed chiefly by multi-brand stores (24%), department stores (13%), and online sales (5%).
  • There are big differences between Italy's regions, with the North being a more buoyant market.

1 – Make sure you have the right agent in Italy

Our assessment above focuses more on quantity, but Claudio Milani, CEO of Webhelp Payment Services in Italy and Greece, was more interested in talking about quality: “There are a huge number of stores in Italy, even in small towns and villages. With the odd exception, you can't “sell on your own” in Italy; you have to go through one or more agents, at regional or national level. Contrastingly, committing to a retail network appears to be a risky business."

But should your agent be single-brand or multi-brand? Claudio Milani says, "A small or medium-sized company would be ill-advised to take on a single-brand agent."

And Anne-Laure Druguet adds, "It's important you have the right fit with your agent and ensure you have the same objectives and development potential. You must also make sure you pin down your methods, such as reporting frequency, and agree a mutually binding commitment in writing.”

The Federation offers French brands help with drawing up agent contracts.

Claudio Milani hammers home the point with a quip: "You know who our best allies are? Agents. And our worst enemies? Agents." Hence his advice: “Find the best possible fit between your brand, your products and your agent”.

2 – Choose the safest payment methods and conditions

Like any market, the Italian market has its own particular payment methods, conditions and practices.

Webhelp Payment Services takes care of customer collection management and trade receivable management and acts as an insurance intermediary in various countries, including Italy. This means that Webhelp Payment Services enables you to personalise your payment methods and conditions individually to each of your clients.

To find out more, and in particular for details of the payment methods and conditions best suited to the Italian market and the best way to protect yourself from non-payment, feel free to get in touch with Claudio Milani.

3 – Devise a strategy tailored to the Italian market

As Claudio Milani says, “It's not enough to set yourself financial objectives in penetrating the Italian market. You have to devise, challenge and then implement your own specific strategy”.

This strategy must be consistent with your brand identity and culture. "But beware of imposing your own rules: think globally but act locally," adds Claudio Milani.

4 – Find the balance between sales and finance

Claudio Milani's last piece of advice: “If you focus solely on increasing sales, you'll expose yourself to a lot of risks. And if you put too much emphasis on financial security, you're in danger of missing some great opportunities. You have to strike the right balance to be successful!"

 

For more information, go to our website.