At the Southern Link, we are here to help you find the perfect products for your store! The main way we do this is by providing you a full staff of personable Reps that will bring knowledge about our lines to your orders, line by line. You do not need to sit around and make guesses as to which items will sell the best – that’s our job! So, in this blog, we will be discussing the things you can bring to the table to help us help you the best that we can.
There are six important focal areas that will guide you through using your Rep most efficiently: Order Management, Inventory Control, Merchandising, Training, Marketing, and Data. The focus right now will be on Order Management.
First, take on the tasks that only you, as a store owner, can do. Order management starts with your “open to buy.” Determine how much product you need. The easiest way to do this is to think about the linear square feet that need to be filled in your store. Break the amount of space into categories of product (i.e., “I need four feet of jewelry, six feet of wall décor”). Apply a budget, balance this against your operating capital, and stick to it! If you only have $10,000 in cash to work with in June, only have $10,000 worth of product bought and shipped in June!
Be sure to leave a discretionary fund. When you see the hot new product, you may need to usurp something else in order to bring that in. Make this plan for each month of the year and edit it at the beginning of each month based on current sales and industry trends. This is called your monthly “open to buy.”
Here is where your Rep comes in. Do not keep your Open to Buy information a secret! Share your thoughts with a trusted sales Rep. They may have ideas, based on their industry knowledge, on which categories will work best for you at the moment. They may also find products that fit best into your mix. Good Reps, like ours at The Link, are not scared to share market information with you.
Regardless of whatever POS system you may have that tracks your orders, they can all be rendered useless if you do not start with a plan. Take the following steps when working with your Open to Buy:
- Assuming that you have a 1500 square foot store or smaller, create a page for each monthly plan (discussed earlier).
- Create a PO# for each order.
- Decide how each PO accomplishes the goals laid out in your monthly plan. What categories are covered? How many linear feet? Is it cost effective?
- Track the PO information on the monthly page. Add the following columns: Received On, Dollars Received, Paid On.
- As you place and receive orders for each month, track each of the columns.
- When you reach your budget in the dollars or reach the limit in your categories, you are finished buying for the month and your “Open to Buy” is now depleted.
The Order Management ideas we just gave you are only a piece of what you can focus on as a store buyer or owner in order to balance your budget and your buying. Stay tuned to this blog for more ways you can utilize your rep, or just give us a call so we can drop by and help you out in person! To find the rep in your territory, click here.