It’s Show Time. And you have much to consider. There’s going to be new ideas and new merchandise that will generate excitement and enhance your sales.
I was always anxious to go to shows to see what new and to insure my store was first in town to offer the new items. All your friends, the reps, are there and you’ve probably made your appointments so you can sit with them, view their new line and write orders. This is not a good plan!
Trade shows are a chance to see EVERYTHING. Appointments get you bogged down and you’ll feel obligated to write orders – before you’ve seen EVERYTHING. What if someone has the same thing at a better price? What if someone has something better at the same price? How much can you spend in the first place?
And there it is. How much should you buy? You probably don’t have much problem picking great items. You know your store. You know your customers. You know the community. So, items are not the problem. Quantities are always the issue. You want to buy the right quantities, but how do you know?
There’s only one way to create a buying plan and that’s with open to buy planning. And your OTB should be figured long before you go to the show. You should know how much you need in each merchandise department, for each month, for the next 12 months. Once you know those answers, you are ready to go to the show.
Now when you get to the show (and it should be at the time they open on the first day), you should cover every square foot of the center, hall or hotel where it’s being held and in a way that you know you’ve seen everything and are able to return to the rooms/booths where you saw the best merchandise. Seeing everything before you buy anything insures your knowledge of the available merchandise and your choice of the best items for your store. By rating and making notes of the items, you can go back for a second look at your favorites.
Many times, on second look, that item won’t hold up and it’s better to determine that at the show rather than in your store when the merchandise arrives. So, have your buying plan based on anticipated sales and desired turn rates in hand before you go to the show. See everything at the show and pick the best. Revisit your favorites and if they’re still exciting, write your orders based on your open to buy plan. Now you know that the best available merchandise will be arriving in your store at the right time in the right quantities.