Special orders are a pain. I don’t have time for them. We don’t make any money on them. Too much paperwork for too little return. I used to think all of those things when I was a retailer, but boy was I wrong.

Actually, special orders are all of the above, but you shouldn’t be thinking about that, you should be thinking about satisfying, pleasing and retaining a customer. Of course, if you are a women’s wear retailer and some guy wants you to special order a set of golf clubs for his wife, you might want to send him elsewhere, but for merchandise that’s within the scope of what you offer, you never want to send a customer elsewhere.

If you send someone to another store, you’ve lost a customer. Of course, they will appreciate your suggestion, but they still have to make the trip and keep shopping. And, if they find what they want, guess which store they’re going to go to first next time they need something. The answer should be obvious, but here’s a hint: it’s not your store.

Every retailer lives for their customers and that’s something you should never forget. Without them, you’re out of business. Treat them well and they’ll make sure you prosper no matter what. And special orders are a piece of the puzzle. The biggest objection retailer generally have is that all of their profit will be eaten up by the special shipping costs. So what! Think bigger. Think about how grateful that customer will be knowing that you have gone out of your way to accommodate their needs. Sure, you might not make money on the sale, but it will be the cheapest advertising you will ever do – and that’s the way you should view it.

How much is that customer worth to you? Certainly more than your profit on the one sale. You will make it back over time as that customer comes back for more of your merchandise and tells his friends how accommodating you were. How much is that worth?

So if you’re out of a size or color or whatever of products you stock, special order it with the manufacturer or keep close contact with your rep and have him pick up what you need. If he’s smart, he’ll be thinking the same thing you are. If he does you a favor, you’re more apt to keep giving him your business. So, it works for everyone and it will work for you. You just have to change the way you look at special orders. Can you do that?

And a final note about special orders in your open to buy plan. If you are special ordering products that you normally carry, they should be included in your projected sales. But if you are special ordering products that are within your merchandise mix, but not normally sold in your store, but products available through catalogues, they should not be included in your sales forecast since you don’t want to inflate your stock for special orders.

All of this is clearly laid out in MYOTBPLAN.COM. Actually, everything is clearly laid out in our easy to use online open to buy plan. It’s a new year and a new chance to get it right. You owe it to your bottom line to get onboard with MYOTBPLAN.COM as soon as possible. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you waited.


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