As 2012 passes into the rear view mirror and 2013 lies ahead, what have you learned about your store, your customers, your staff, and your merchandising and what do you plan to change in 2013?

Well, that’s a lot to swallow while you are figuring out which New Year’s Eve parties to attend, but they are important questions.  And of course, each raises many more about each topic.

The truth is that you can tweak your store, but massive changes are expensive and unsettling and you may lose whatever comfort level your customers felt with remodeling.  But subtle changes that increase efficiency and increased displays are always of value.

Are your sales personnel motivated?  One thing I have learned from employing (literally) thousands of people is that you can teach skills, but you cannot teach attitude.  A highly skilled employee with a bad attitude is substantially worse than an unskilled employee with a great attitude.  They want to learn and will if you guide them.  They will be grateful at each step in their journey and they will reward you far beyond someone with the wrong attitude.

Do you know who your customer is and what they want and how they want it?  Since your store is merely a vehicle to satisfy the needs of your customers, it is important that you understand their needs.  The idea that they will buy what you want them to buy is foolish ego at work.  Consider your demographics and cater to those that seek you out.

What your customers want will direct your buying since they are the end game of all you do.  Selling your merchandise to your customers in your store is what it’s all about.

So, the general area of merchandise that your customers want should have been made clear by now if you have been keeping track.  Some products have sold well, while others have languished.  Of course, there’s always going to be a bit of experimenting as your suppliers roll out their new lines, but keeping in mind who will be the ultimate consumer of these goods will keep you focused on your task.

And then, of course, you must have a way to determine how much to buy, in each merchandise category, for each delivery period so that you can keep this merchandise (which is in reality your invested capital) turning over and creating a positive cash flow so you can pay your suppliers, pay your overhead, and pay yourself.  And there is only one way to plan and control your buying and that is open to buy planning.  Anything else is just guessing, and while guessing is fun, it will always leave you holding the bag. 

So, it you only make one resolution for 2013, make it to work with an open to buy system that will insure leaner, better balanced, faster turning inventory with fewer markdowns and a positive cash flow.  And it you’re reading this, you’ve come to the right place.  Happy New Year!

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