Today’s brands have a range of revenue channels to sell through, which can provide great opportunities for revenue growth but also create competition within retail relationships. When a business is trying to sell inventory through retailers, as well as direct-to-consumer, it can be challenging to maintain a fair and equal strategy that works for both parties. So Twisted X has taken a different approach and opted out of direct-to-consumer altogether.
Wholesale is the most traditional form of retail – and for a reason. By selling all its goods through vetted retailers, Twisted X is able to create a retail model that rewards both retailers and the brand. The company is able to focus on how it can best support its retail partners, because it doesn’t have to figure out its own retail operations. Each party provides expertise in one area and each gets to benefit from the other’s success.
“We believe in being a true partner to our retailers,” said Prasad Reddy, CEO of Twisted X. “The clearest way we demonstrate that is by not going DTC. If we sell direct, we become competition for our retailers and that’s just not right. When our retailers have success, we have success. It really is that simple.”
This approach is particularly notable after the past year, which accelerated most brands’ e-commerce expansion. Without open stores to entice shoppers, DTC e-commerce became the most appealing way to keep consumer connection while also shifting inventory. But Twisted X has made an active choice to remain strictly wholesale, so that the sole priority could be on getting the right inventory to its select retail partners.
The pandemic’s disruption of the supply chain has created additional challenges. Without clear timelines on when new stock would arrive, brands had to figure out which orders they could fulfill and which they would need to cancel. Those that needed to keep some inventory on hand for their own selling purposes were more likely to cancel on their vendors, thus putting their merchant partners at risk of not meeting their own revenue goals. This kind of internal competition led many in the industry to rethink their existing relationships altogether.
But Twisted X has taken these circumstances as an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to its partners. Rather than cancelling orders, the brand doubled down on its production so that it could meet the growing needs of the retailers that were now doing great business online.
Twisted X has also made sure not to raise its prices, in order to offset any losses from the past year. Instead, it has turned its focus to continually producing three collections a year in the spring, summer, and fall, each with a large breadth of styles, in order to keep its merchants with a healthy supply of fresh product and fashion-forward designs.
FN spoke with Twisted X CEO Prasad Reddy about the company’s partnership ethos, its independent path forward and what to expect in the coming months.
FN: How does Twisted X approach its retail relationships?
Prasad Reddy: The building, strengthening and continuation of our retail relationships, no matter the situation, is our underlying philosophy. We think of our retail partners like family and tailor our support efforts to each one based on their individual needs and challenges, rather than offering a broad, one-size-fits all approach. We offer all kinds of assets, layouts, web designs, emails and whatever they might need to help them tell our story as well as theirs.
The world of e-commerce has increased massively this past year, but we felt a stronger desire to continue supporting our retailers by working alongside them instead of competing with them. We have chosen to sell Twisted X products through our retailers because they have been with us since day one. Without our retailers, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
FN: How has the growth of e-commerce and DTC changed the landscape for retailers and how has Twisted X responded to this?
PR: There’s no doubt e-commerce, especially amidst the pandemic, has grown substantially. Retailers were forced to find new ways of capitalizing on that and had to shift and do omnichannel selling: brick-and-mortar, online sales, shows, events, and everything in between. Since Twisted X is not direct-to-consumer, we could instead focus on supporting our retailers in those efforts (both in-store and online). For example, we increased inventory ordering to keep up with demand and supply chain slowdowns and kept our prices consistent, while broadening the depth of products and training offered to set them up for success.
FN: What lessons has Twisted X learned from the past year, in terms of protecting and strengthening its retail partnerships?
PR: The pandemic, worldwide lockdowns, and shutting down stores has been tough on most retailers. It caused financial struggle and a lack of sales – sales that are ultimately needed to support those brands. The whole structure of retail was thrown a curveball – and our retailers needed help in any way we could give them. We knew we could take the financial burden of holding inventory off their shoulders by increasing our product inventory and making them easily accessible to retailers the moment they needed a replenishment. When Twisted X decided to do this about a year ago at the peak of the shutdowns, we knew it might be a risk. However, it was one of the best ways to support our retail partners and it ended up helping us further our relationships with the retailers who constantly help us.
FN: Twisted X very much takes its own approach compared to the larger market. What made you want to pave your own way and how has it proven to be successful?
PR: Twisted X is an independent company. We’re different than others in our market, because of the values that we strictly stand by like no direct-to-consumer selling, saving our environment from first stitch to final product, supporting the community we serve, and increasing our overall brand leadership, as well as value in the industry beyond sales. This mindset allows us to do what we feel is right in the long run, including the continued support of our retailers and also the innovation of our products and technologies so that we stay ahead of the curve. We’re always looking at what’s next and that makes us successful.
FN: How do you see the future of wholesale?
PR: If there’s trade, there will be wholesale. Every brand has its own values that consumers can relate to and every brand should strive to provide an assurance of quality and comfort that customers are looking for. Brands will be here forever as long as the consumers are still at the forefront trying to buy from them.
FN: What makes the Twisted X-retailer relationship unique?
PR: We are constantly talking to our retailers, trying to get feedback of what they’re needing and how we can support them. Twisted X works hard to try to provide them with these assets, whether it’s the product, merchandise, or marketing. Retailers need consumers to come to them and we want to find a way to bring the consumer to the retailers. We see ourselves to be in service to retailers, where our job is to make footwear that makes us and our retailers successful together. The more successful they are, the more successful we are.