Every year I wonder why the interest in open to buy dries up in December. Of course, it’s because retailers are only interested in SELLING and have no interest in buying. Fortunately, interest once again awakens as Christmas selling winds down and thoughts of Spring and Summer merchandise commitments at the January and February shows come into focus.
If you are one of the many retailers who has put having an open to buy on the back burner, now is a great time to take action. If you have an open to buy, this is a great time to evaluate its performance. Many systems and services provide plans that have lots of “bells and whistles”, but lead retailers to unbalanced and bloated inventory positions. I’m sure you love your service rep and your monthly meetings, but is your “friendship” more important than accuracy? And that “friendship” comes with a significantly higher monthly fee. After all, you are providing your rep’s livelihood.
If you don’t have an open to buy plan, this is the perfect time to get one set up to insure that 2018 is your most profitable year ever. Guessing about your needs is easier, but always leads to overbuying, markdowns, and cash flow problems. Having a solid buying plan in each merchandise department for each month, 12 months into the future will insure that you are receiving the right amount of merchandise each month to support your projected sales and give you the turn rates you desire.
And turnover is the key to retail success. The more you turn, the more you make. A great open to buy plan will be based on sales and turn, just as is your store. Many feel that open to buy interferes with creativity, but that’s not true. Having a buying plan actually means you are forced to become a better item selector. Your open to buy plan will give you the numbers to support your creativity and insure you have the right amount of merchandise to begin every month.
So, even though you’re busy selling, you must take a little time to be ready for the early shows. Your inventory must keep changing to support your customers’ needs each season. Setting up your open to buy plan now will have you totally prepared when you arrive at the shows.