You’re either going or coming from a trade show. And either way, you have much to consider. There’s going to be new ideas to make your store so much more attractive to your customers. New merchandise that will enhance your sales and your reputation.
I always was anxious to go to shows to see what was coming down the road and to insure my store was first in town to offer the new looks. Trade shows are a bit like a carnival, sampling the goodies and making decisions as to whether you want to take that ride again. And your friends, the reps are there. So, you’ve probably made your appointments so you can sit at their table and see their wares and write your orders.
I never did that. Trade shows were a chance to see EVERYTHING. If I made appointments, you get bogged down and 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 figure your buying dollars and that’s 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 covered everything and are able to return to the rooms/booths where you saw the best merchandise. Seeing everything before you buy anything insures your education of the available merchandise and your choice of the best for your store. By rating and making notes of the items you thought were wonderful (and right for your store), you can go back for the second look at your favorites.
Many times, on second look, that item won’t hold up and so it’s better to determine that at the show rather than in your back room when you open the carton. 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. And if you’re using myotbplan.com, not only will your numbers be accurate and ready in a timely manner, but you can also access them any time on your computer, tablet or smartphone so you can say goodbye to the reams of reports you have to carry to the shows.