Creating the perfect product mix is an elusive goal. But it is certainly worth shooting for! The high energy of a show is not always conducive to strategic purchasing –factors such as poor lighting, rushing around, late nights, etc. – can affect smart buying decisions. In addition, we always see more compelling product than we have dollars for, which is why you want to have a plan and stick to it.
1 month before the show:
- 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 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
- What buying strategies will get you to your 2017 goals? A few examples:
- Attract female self-purchasers with bold, fun fashion rings
- Expand your bridal clientele with new bridal product
- Increase margin with in- house branded collections
3 weeks before the show:
- 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)
- The Edge Retail Academy can help you create your OTB, if needed.
- 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!