That’s a topic that has been debated for many years. Most retailers would tend to line up on the “Art” side of the fence because they are more creative people and feel if they buy the right items all will be well. But even so, it’s somewhat of a defense mechanism to rationalize not doing the necessary planning to insure being profitable.
On the other hand are those inclined to be more comfortable with numbers and computers and they feel the “Science” is more important. The truth is that buying (when done right) is both art and science.
Obviously, the art is the search for and finding of the best items for your store. It’s hard work to go to a show or a merchandise mart and look in every booth/showroom to educate yourself as to what’s available and then make the best decisions about what to bring into your store.
But to do all that work without a solid buying plan based on anticipated sales and desired turn rates makes no sense at all. Retail – like it or not – is a game of numbers. Sales numbers and turnover numbers. Sales are important, but turnover is how you make money in retail. Consequently, you must combine these two elements into a buying plan before you go to market or see a rep in your store.
The only way to put these elements to work to determine your buying plan is with open to buy planning. When you use OTB and develop a solid buying plan – and follow it – you’ll see that your hard work finding and selecting those great items will really pay off with great sell through at regular prices, improved turnover, few markdowns and high profits.
Add the Science to the Art and you’ll be the winner.