Inside Outdoor Magazine - Fall 2018

Inside Outdoor | FALL 2018 20 I f this year is turning out as planned, congratulations on a job well done. If the year is not hitting your expectations, here are a few things you might consider focus- ing on in the new year, beginning now: Stay Fresh – Nothing in retail im- proves profitable sales faster than a constant flow of fresh new inventory delivered on a regular basis. There is a definite correlation between sales increase and new inventory. With many customers shopping your stores regu- larly, the last thought they should have is that they saw the same merchandise on their last visit to your store. Out with the old, in with the new – If the data supports making line changes, now is the time to rid your inventory of under-performing vendors. Purg- ing slow-selling stock at year end has multiple benefits; the “hard markdown,” often referred to as a permanent or back-office markdown, reduces inven- tory levels, in turn opening up addition- al OTB dollars for new product. Applied consistently, over time this strategy in- creases annual stock turn too. Another benefit is that there won’t be as much old product to count at inventory time for stores that take physical inventory on a calendar schedule. Test new products – Commit to testing new vendors next year. Most re- tailers have a mainstay of vendors that customers can count on finding at their stores. It is a good practice to reserve a percentage of open-to-buy dollars for testing new lines in order to keep custom- ers interested. Always be on the lookout for the next hot trend or item (think Crocs, Uggs, Birkenstock, water bottles, novelty socks, etc.). Remember, most big-volume vendors in your store most likely started out as limited test orders. Set up your promotional calendar – Review and fine tune with your staff or marketing department what the promo- tional plans are for year end as well as Q1 of next year. This should include not only social media but also advertising buys if applicable. Confirm trunk show schedules with vendors, as well as other events that are not price driven. These events can be either in-store or sometimes at a remote location that the store participates in (races, group rides, festivals, trail maintenance days, etc.) Vendor returns – Start the new year off fresh by making sure that all return authorizations for merchandise being sent back is out of the ware- house or back room by year end. This includes damaged goods, merchandise being swapped out or excess inventory being returned per vendor agreement. Promote services – Do you offer added value options that your custom- ers might not get online? If so, be sure to communicate it. How about free gift wrapping, free delivery or stride analy- sis or foot scans? Give some thought to complementary shoe cleaning or waterproofing treatment, if your physi- cal set-up allows for something like that. Not many stores provide it, and most customers won’t take you up on it too often anyway, but it’s something to talk about. How about free laces? Buyer’s Side By Ritchie Sayner Next Year Starts Now Inventory and operations planning for a prosperous 2019