When someone asks what I do for a living over the years and I’ve confessed that I market my open to buy system to retailers, I watch their eyes glaze over and their head tilt to the side as they fell asleep. It seems that almost no one know what open to buy is or how valuable it is to the retailers who use it.
I actually envy the people who can sum up their profession in a word or two: retailer, accountant, movie star, fireman, police officer, attorney, waste management. Since I decided to offer my system to retailers 30 years ago, I’ve had to explain what I do to anyone that asks and it gets even worse on applications or registration forms that offer the one word examples above and many more. But when push comes to shove, I just put ‘Other’.
For the largest part of my open to buy career, I wouldn’t even use the open to buy descriptor in the title of the seminars I presented at trade shows around the country or in the articles I wrote for trade publications because no one knew what it was.
My seminar was titled “How much should I buy?” which is exactly what open to buy is about and I usually drew standing room only audiences since all smart retailers really do want to know the answer to that question. But on the odd occasion when the show administrator, for whatever reason, put out their publicity indicating that my seminar title was “Open to buy”, very few attended.
Even today, after 30 years of pioneering this term, I find retailers that have no idea how important open to buy is to their success. Retailers have big egos – which is good as they need that confidence and courage to plan, start and run a retail venture. Their ego drives them to be unusual, outstanding, and successful. But that ego can also get in the way when they feel they can do some of the tasks in their head. The one they cannot afford to deal with in that manner is open to buy as it’s just too complex.
Every retailers store is driven by sales and turnover. Sales is the obvious component. Sales bring in the dollars to pay the bills. But turnover is the important component since turnover is how a retailer actually makes money. A retailer can experience great sales and still go out of business. Turnover is what sets retail apart from other investments and without planning and controlling turnover you won’t succeed.
Sales come from having an attractive store, publicizing it properly, having inviting displays, training friendly, intelligent, motivated sales personnel, and, of course, buying the best merchandise available to meet your customers’ needs. All of that should be pretty obvious.
What’s not obvious or easy is turnover. It’s an elusive concept at best and can only be understood and implemented through the use of open to buy planning. Just as your store is driven by sales and turnover, so is open to buy (if it’s done properly, and that’s not always the case). By working with both anticipated sales and desired turn rates, ideal inventories can be planned and a buying plan constructed.
The easy and accurate way to have open to buy planning to guide your buying is with myotbplan.com. We’ve done all the heavy lifting so you just have to put in your numbers and see the results. There’s no bells and whistles. All it does is make you money!