When I opened my first store, I chose products that I liked. Naturally, as I had developed the concept for the store! I had a vision for how I wanted my store to look and my ‘buying plan’ consisted of googling brands, falling for brands that resonated with my taste and trying them all out if I had enough cashflow.
It took me a year or so to realize that whilst I could, and should, keep up my standards on product quality, I needed to focus my buying to products that were selling well, that customers were wanting and asking for and to minimize my ‘risky purchases’. I needed a real buying plan and I needed to stop buying for myself and start buying for the customers I wanted.
Once you start really looking into your sales reports, it can be quite eye-opening to see what is selling well and what is slow moving. How can that lovely cashmere range not be selling well?? What’s wrong with everyone?! Whilst it’s totally normal to get it wrong sometimes, once you have been operational for a few months or more, you need to start being a bit more scientific about your buying.
Easier said than done. How?
Try writing down a list of key words about your store. What is your concept about? Who is it targeted to? What kind of product types fit well into your brand concept? Make a list of categories that you currently cover and ones that you don’t. For example you might be a ladies fitness store with all types of sports clothing but you don’t yet have water bottles. It’s a category that is aligned to your concept but not yet fulfilled. Dig deep when you do this exercise and check competitor websites in case you are not thinking of a category.
Depending on your store concept of course, the parallel task to this one is a brand list.
“I needed to stop buying for myself and start buying for the customers I wanted”
Next up is your sales reports. Yes those actual reports as opposed to the one in your head where you think you know what is selling. Go through the list and look at both quantity of sales by item and revenue. Look for those products hanging about in the middle of the list, how could you improve on those sales and bring them up to the top.
I have talked before about missed opportunities and how important it is to be recording what customers are asking for. This information will help you fill gaps in your product range and identify areas you could expand into.
Ultimately the point here is to change your rose tinted buying glasses and apply a more strategic buying plan. Whilst you want to keep your store identity strong, you also need to make sales and buying more of what the customers actually want will of course help that to happen.