There is never a fail-safe way to buy new products and be guaranteed they will sell. On the other hand, you will always need to take some risks when buying new products. Many times we buy new items for our business, then can’t work out why they didn’t sell. So, how do we make the right buying decision for new products?
You work in your business every day and you are one with it. So I feel that it is not wrong to have an idea or ‘gut feel’ about something and go with it. This being said, buying is the easy part. Implementing the idea with thought and some sort of outcome in mind is a bit more difficult. Once you have bought and implemented, then most importantly, review your strategy to see what did and did not work.
Here are some points to help you transfer your gut feel into a plan on the what, why and when of buying new items.
Is the product or service a match for your store?
When considering a new product for your store, you really need to consider if your store has any synergy with the product and whether it really belong in your store. Do I have to have the product or not? You may love art and paintings, and the prices sound fantastic, but do they really belong in your store?
Is it a completely new item to the store or is it within an existing category?
For example, you may be considering a new soft toy to add to your current soft toy category. You may want to check some history on previous sales of similar items. Do you know it sold well before, or just have a hunch?
Are you in contact with your customers to know what they really want?
We all understand that it is important to speak to your customers. When it comes to buying new products, speaking to your customers about what they want is very important. Your customer is usually the best advocate of what you should be looking for when looking for new items. If you use social media to interact with your customers, you can also get an understanding of what they might like.
Are you going to buy and sell for the right price?
You know what you sell best and you usually know your customer well, so you will need to evaluate whether or not the new products you are considering fit into your range of store price points. Buying well is one thing, but selling for the correct price is even more important. Who else is selling the product and for how much? The faster you sell your stock, the better your stock turns. Stock turns in retail are paramount and inextricably linked to profit.
How will it be merchandised in your store?
As far as retailing is concerned, this is very important. Consumers today are spoilt with merchandising displays from companies with huge budgets and resources. I do not think you should let this put you off. What you need to consider with your buying decisions is something that is going to make a statement when it is displayed. Most likely, if for example you have never stocked soy candles and you buy three or four to trial, then they will get lost in the store and will not perform. On the other hand, if you decide to stock candles, you need to stock enough to make a statement that tells your customer ‘candles are sold here’.
Even if you make your decision without much scientific analysis, here are a few housekeeping tips to make sure your new product purchases are successful:
- Track your sales
- Keep checking your profits on the new items
- Engage your customers’ thoughts on the products
- Promote the product
- Give yourself time to review and double-check if you will continue with the new items
- How quickly did you sell out?
- Did you reorder?
- Did you get positive feedback or reviews on social?
- Will you continue or buy something else?
These are easy questions to challenge yourself and make the best buying decisions for your business. As the old retail adage says: “If you’re not buying, you’re not trying”.
This article was published in the August 2019 issue of Flowers magazine, an award-winning Australian publication focusing on the whole of the flower supply chain from breeders to retailers.