By David Brown, Edge Retail Academy
Omaha, NE–Creating the perfect product mix is an elusive goal–but certainly worth shooting for!
The high energy of a tradeshow is not always conducive to strategic purchasing. Everyone’s excited to see their friends and attend glamorous events, plus factors such as poor lighting, rushing around to appointments (and, of course, those late nights) can affect smart buying decisions. In addition, we always see more compelling product than we have dollars for, which is why before every show we recommend jewelers have a plan and stick to it.
Here’s our checklist leading up to show time. Ideally, you already began planning about a month before, but even if you start now, you’ll still be in a better position to avoid impulsive decisions that can negatively impact your bottom line.
- Review your Strategic Plan and your Merchandising Plan to refresh your memory as to your objectives
- Or, brainstorm with your staff on unclosed sales and missed opportunities
- Compare your YTD results with your objectives. At five months into the year you should have a pretty good idea if you are on track
- Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish at the show. Think about what type of product will fulfill your objectives, and what buying strategies will get you to your year-end goals?
Here are a few examples of possible strategies:
- Attract female self-purchasers with bold, fun fashion rings
- Expand your bridal clientele with new bridal product
- Increase margin with in-house branded collections
- Calculate your Open to Buy (OTB), making sure that you allocate dollars to replenishment. Don’t forget to factor in your on-order, accounts payable commitments, GL inventory adjustments, and pending return to vendor. (Note: The Edge Retail Academy can help you create your OTB, if needed; see contact info below.)
- Start running the appropriate reports that you will need for your buying decisions – by vendor and by classification – to get a general idea of what you need to procure
- Determine what are your top selling products, and what are your best performing vendors
- Equally important, review your aged inventory visually – you want to learn from these buying mistakes
- Start setting up your vendor appointments – don’t count on “swinging by”
2 weeks before the show:
- Now it is time to get specific! If you have determined a need for bridal semi-mounts – drill down in your reports – what metal, shape melee, head shape/size, price point range?
- Lower your risk by leveraging your top selling product – is it available in another diamond total weight, with a different size/shape center stone, in a different metal?
- Print out your Vendor Appointment forms for your existing vendors that you will be seeing at the show
- Run reports so you can fill in the Vendor Appointment form completely
- Print out several sets of the New Vendor forms, and any of the Agreement forms that you think you may need – remember, negotiate upfront
1 week before the show:
- Re-calculate your Open to Buy – based on sales and receiving your dollars may have gone up or down
- Do not underestimate the importance of being organized and professional in front of your vendors – prepare all your reports and forms
- Re-confirm your appointments, and get cell phone numbers so you can contact if you need to
At the show:
- It is pretty easy to get behind schedule at times, but do call your vendors for a heads-up or to reschedule
- Ideally, get pictures and pricing, so you can review back at your office or store
- Gather information on potential new vendors, even if you don’t have the OTB dollars this season – start a file for the next show you will be attending
- Once you have all your pictures and pricing, fill out a New Purchasing Analysis Form for each designer, collection or group of like-product
- Review the forms with your manager, or with your staff and decide what kind of a fit you have with the vendor and which product will help you accomplish your goals
- Send in your purchase orders with specific ship dates
- Develop a Product Launch plan, or schedule trainings to ensure the successful sell through of the wonderful product you have just purchased!
The Edge Retail Academy provides customized strategies for retailers and vendors to increase profits, optimize growth, reduce debt, create profitable inventory solutions, build effective teams and enhance brand loyalty and profitability. The Academy is committed to helping jewelry businesses improve their bottom line while reducing uncertainty and stress. Edge Retail Academy software and the unique talent pool of their business advisors provide real world knowledge and advice for guaranteed results, all on a “no-contract” basis. 877-569-8657, ext. 1, Becka@EdgeRetailAcademy.com or www.edgeretailacademy.com
This article ran in Centurian.