The intelligent way to work a show is to first be prepared with your open-to-buy plan. Next you have to find out what is available and then buy the best possible merchandise to fit your buying plan.

Instead of entering the show, going to see your favorite supplier and writing an order, you should be exploring the entire show and making comparative notes on the exceptional items you see. Then after a review of your notes you can return to the suppliers who offered the best merchandise and have another look.

What information is important? If you set up sheets by merchandise classification and delivery period, and then detail information about vendor, item number, cost and retail you will have the start of some good information. You should also leave some space for details about the item (what makes it exceptional) and finally a system to rate the products. When you go back to see the highest rated products, they may not be as exciting as when you first looked at them, in those cases change your rating. But if they are still exciting…it’s time to write an order!

Buying should be the most intense work you do as a retailer. It’s not a time to chit-chat and make for the exit. Your buying sets up everything that will follow in your store once the merchandise starts arriving. If you have set up your open to buy plan properly and you stick to the numbers generated, you will be buying the right amount in the right category for delivery at the right time. If your open to buy gives you an accurate buying plan based on your anticipated sales and your desired turn rates, you’ll see your sales grow, your markdowns shrink, your turnover improve and your cash flow increase.

If you get your open to buy plan current before the show and put in the work at the show, the rest will be easy… and profitable.


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