Donata d’Alessandro, owner of the womenswear boutique Lulu Talune in Bologna, talks about why it is important to concentrate on fewer brands in a small store.

"My boutique is located in the center of Bologna and offers research brands. My customers are women and professional women looking for casual chic medium-high quality apparel. In the last two years, I decided to reduce my offer of brands in order to focus on fewer brands, though more quality-focused ones - and also because my store only measures 40sqm and I needed to reduce stocks. For this, I gradually reduced my offer by about 50%.

Aim of this initiative was to sensitize my customers for a different product more focused on knitwear, tops and jackets and, for instance, less on jeans. In fact, in the last two years I almost stopped offering all of the jeans brands I used to carry, such as, for instance, Evisu, Cycle, Habitual, 7 for all Mankind and Dr. Denim and just kept one - Acne. I think that in my case jeans is an obstacle when it comes to sell trousers. Denim can last longer in one's own wardrobe and hardly wears out quickly. For this, my customers used to buy jeans less often than any other trousers type, or didn't even buy any other trousers model since jeans can be easily mixed within many styles and outfits. I decided to choose Acne since it offers clean slim-fit jeans, a product I have to sell anyway and it could be added to my whole offer together with chinos and sporty trousers. At present, a good bestseller trousers brand is Tramp, a unisex pair of trousers most successful in grey and sand hues, best to be worn at work. Other products I'm selling well at present are tops, knitwear and jackets. Most successful are Paul X, Paul Smith's second line, Paul Smith, Valentino, San Francisco (another chino brand) and Alternative (US t-shirts).

Cool wool jackets have been selling well. Especially in recent times, when the weather was uncertain, people were ready to buy a cool wool jacket because, even if expensive, it is a versatile product with an own intrinsic quality people are ready to spend for. Blue, natural hues, pied-de-poule and pinstriped variants were all successful. Also bright color models are appreciated, though one needs some tanning to look good. Also the trench met great success, especially most lively printed models. Dresses are working fine, especially if characterized by high-quality materials, viscose and cotton, better if in plain colors and with interesting details.

Accessories are always working fine - both bags, wallets, stockings and footwear - and help the store look more lively and visually varied. A store only showing woven products might appear boring, while accessories complete its interior and better recall the attention of customers. In terms of sales, accessories make up 25% of my sales in winter, while they make up 15% in winter.

If I have to say whether there are products I'm not selling at all, that would be leather items - ever since. I tried different things, but they are not selling well. And I don't know why."