Getting Retail Minded with Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Exclusively For Wholesale Brands And Retailers


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by Mita Patnaik

Getting Retail Minded with Nicole Leinbach Reyhle


Today I’m excited to share an interview with Nicole Leinbach Reyhle of Nicole is an experienced retail and wholesale professional whose experience includes work with Adidas America, Sears Corporation, Via Spiga, Nordstrom and many independent retailers and wholesalers nationwide. She’s been recognized by as “Thought Leader” in retail. You can keep up with her on Twitter @retailminded.


What's the Top 3 things retailers should keep in mind when sourcing lines + designs for their shops?


Customers should always come first in every aspect of retail planning. This includes buying inventory for your store. Sometimes it’s hard to buy for anyone other than yourself, even when buying for store you may have developed. The trick is to buy for the actual customers purchasing in your store versus the ones who never walk into your store. Also analyze your customer audience, their buying trends and how you can better support them despite what any original goals of your may have been.


Ultimately it’s all about balance, proper planning and allocating the right amount of dollars to specific trends, basics and “extras”.


Beyond customers, it’s great to work with vendors who care… and actually mean it. If you are a boutique that blends in with a million others to a large vendor, consider working with vendors who will give you more face time and support your unique store. Sometimes having the strongest brand names isn’t what creates the best balance for boutique stores. Vendors and their reps make a huge impact on the success of their product in your stores.


Shipping and payment terms are something every small boutique needs to understand clearly. Each vendor will be different, so make sure to read the fine print. Some conditions may be better suited for you than others. Typically this won’t damper your product assortment since there are many, many great lines and designers to choose from.


What tools + tricks can retailers implement to build a loyal following?


Care cards – often referred to as loyalty cards – are a great way to keep customers coming back. Be creative in creating one that will work for your store, but the basis of a care card is to give customers a reward after so many purchases or total dollars spent. While coffee shops and bakeries may have perfected this trend, any retailer can maximize from it.


Good old fashioned note taking is great way to keep track of your customers, their shopping preferences and even personal details they share with you. Maybe they mention their anniversary is coming up or they have a favorite dog. Either way, it’s worth recording on a personalize notecard or online file so that you can reference it on future occasions.


Casually mentioning things that are important to them shows you care.


This kind of care, which is less and less common in big box retailers or any retailers nowadays, is the kind of care that creates loyal customers.


Now for the designers: How do you recommend that they approach a retailer they want to work with?

Designers are challenged with becoming “business minded” when it’s very likely they are more creative. As a result, many designers dive into retail communication before they are prepared to do so. To avoid this, designers should have a professionally prepared Buyers Packet that includes an introduction  letter about their business, a company / designer overview, a detailed line sheet, a price sheet and order form. The details, photos and all other content of this packet should be polished in presentation and clear in understanding. If a designer is hesitant to do this themselves, they should consider getting support on this since this is likely the first thing stores will refer to – even before the actual designs of the designer. Because of this, it must be a solid A+ in presentation.

Once this packet is created, you can mail it electronically in a PDF file or via snail mail. Both are effective.

Get more of Nicole’s retail smarts at and learn more about approaching retailers in our (free) e-book.


Interview by Tara Swiger, Vianza’s Community-Crafter and Twitter-er. Say hello @vianza or drop her a line: