A retailer was recently talking about the ways vendors make their lives even harder. It’s sad but true, while your reps and vendors try to make you feel important, they are really only worried about THEIR bottom line.

Manufacturers will take orders for merchandise they will never make. When they show styles at market, they are trying to determine if they will sell enough to make production worth while. When they decide not to make a product, they rarely notify the retailer. When they do make a product that you have purchased, there’s no guarantee they will ship it on time or send it early or ship in bits and pieces.

So rather than an attitude of “we’re all in this together”, it’s clearly “watch your back!”. You must not only use an open to buy plan to determine “how much to buy”, but once you find the best merchandise to fill your plan, you must constantly monitor your orders and talk to your vendors to make sure that that merchandise will be shipped and shipped when YOU want it in your store. So, you must have a way of being able to easily review open orders and order balances. With that information, you need to be on the phone at least once a month to confirm that the orders you’ve placed will actually be shipped… and when.

Because suppliers tend to ship sizes they find available and not necessarily what you ordered, I have advised my customers to always specify NO SUBSTITUTIONS and SHIP COMPLETE on their orders. There’s no one that knows your customer better than you and you certainly don’t want your vendor merchandising your store. A wrong color or pattern can wind up a markdown, killing your profit and your contribution to overhead. While it’s OK to have odd sizes after strong selling of a style, you certainly don’t want to start showing a style with only odd sizes. That leads to frustration for your customer and markdowns for you.

Let your open to buy plan dictate your needs. Buy the best available merchandise to fill those needs. And stay on top of your vendors to insure that they meet their obligations as written on your order forms.


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