The 'Fashion Star' Guide to Connecting the Dots for Customers The new shopping reality-TV hybrid shows designers and retailers the right way to get customers jazzed about products.

By Carol Tice

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Six Keys to Boost Your Business in 2012 In Fashion Star, reality TV and home-shopping TV have finally met, and the result is a customer's dream. For business owners, the new NBC show serves as a training course in how to get customers to see your products, fall in love with them, and then know exactly where to buy them.

Unlike Project Runway, where a panel of fashion designers decides who makes it to the next round, Fashion Star's judges are buyers from major department stores, including Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and H&M. If they like the clothes, the buyers negotiate a deal on the spot and buy the garments for their store. Even better, by the time the episode airs, the clothes are in the stores and available online for shoppers to buy.

What if a shopper can't remember which buyer bought which design? Not to worry: a quick browse at the Fashion Star website shows all the designs and where they are for sale. Click on a garment, and you go to that retailer's website and see the price. One more click, and you've bought it. Unless, of course, the wild demand that's been created by the media exposure means it's already sold out.

Fashion Star's pioneering model is a big win for the stakeholders involved. Designers have far greater odds of making immediate sales through this show than any of the other fashion reality shows. The department stores get an hour a week of exposure for their brand, plus more on the website. The show piggybacks off the brand cachet of the big chains. And customers are the biggest winners -- they get hot new fashions without having to hunt through dozens of boutiques.

Related: What 'Project Runway' Can Teach You About Business

This is where I think smaller online retailers should pay attention. Often, a shopper will find an interesting product and arrive at the company's website, only to find that navigating the site is a mystery. No doubt, sales are lost in the process.

Related: Seven Ways to Whip Your Website into Shape

Product makers can get caught up in the politics of whether it's OK to sell to competing chains, with the result that they have fewer outlets. But Fashion Star shows that it can work, particularly if you have different designs or models to offer different retailers. It also demonstrates what really matters -- getting the word out about your products and making them easy to buy.

The biggest challenge is getting shoppers' attention. Obviously, not every business owner can count on landing a spot on a reality TV show to help boost exposure. While you're waiting for your 15 minutes to materialize, think about finding partners you might collaborate with to spread the word farther about your brand.

How have you made your website more customer friendly? Let us know in the comments section.

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

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