Top tips for successful retailing

This is a good time to review the buying arrangements you have with regular suppliers. First of all have a look at how much you have spent with them this year – you can get this from your EPOS system or ask your Accountant for the figure from their ‘nominal ledger’. Next have a look at the stock you bought from them, if it’s a generic item that sells well can you make an ‘own brand’ version through them? Looking at the sales history by supplier report on your epos system should give you an indication of this. Or, if you don’t have Epos pull up the orders for your ten top suppliers and look at what you have bought – don’t make assumptions only deal with facts!

Having established the suppliers you spend the most money with and the products that sell best now you can call the supplier in for a discussion about discounts! The conversation would go something like………… “We have spent £… with you so far this year, as we are reviewing our list of approved suppliers for next year I am looking for a discount on our current cost price” (perhaps free delivery if you don’t get it). If they are keen to keep you as a customer they will give you a good discount! Remember the sales team have at least 15% to play with in a big company and smaller companies will be desperate to keep your custom so should give at least 5%. Do NOT agree to bulk purchases or promise buying levels in return!

Check your stock for old/slow moving stock – get rid of it fast! Look at your sales reports from Epos or check the condition and quantity of the stock on your shelves/stock room for old or slow moving stock. The principal here is simple, anything that has been on the shelves of the shop or stock room since last Easter needs to go! That way you will free up money to buy stock which will ‘turn over’ faster and make more money from the initial investment. I can usually identify at least 25% of current stock as being slow or not selling. So, what do you do with it? DO NOT knock 20% off!!! When selling off stock you need to reduce hard and once. Simply sell it off at cost +VAT and make a big display in the centre of your shop. Your purpose is to get your money back as quickly as possible. If you do this from now until just before Easter you will free up valuable funds to buy new stock for the coming season. Remember check the stock against the reports do not rely on staff telling you ‘it’s very popular’ that often means they like it. This is extremely important if you are a venue which has regular repeat visitors from the local community – they like to see new items when they come in.

Take a hard look at your Christmas card and calendar/diary sales Do an honest analysis of your sales and profits from this range. Did you order too many – or not enough? Do you try something different next time? The best time to publish and display 2014 calendars and diaries is from Easter onwards this year. The same goes for Christmas cards which should be available most of the year. This means working on the Christmas card designs NOW. By having them in stock you are making them available to tourists who will love having ‘something different’ to send their friends next Christmas.

Spring clean the stock room and the shop floor It’s surprising what you might find! A good way to assess the way your visitors see your shop is to use a digital camera and take photos of your counters, shelves, entrance and look at them on the computer. We all suffer from retail myopia which means that we see our shops so much that we stop being able to really see them at all. Somehow a photo gets over this and you notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Try it – it does work. This makes a great staff training session. Also get hold of a wheelchair and make sure your shop is fully accessible and that spinners and gondolas haven’t crept into the space need for your disabled visitors to pass through.

Look at your maintenance contracts and suppliers of consumables – do they need renegotiating? Are you getting the best deals? Did your suppliers deliver what they promised? These are just a few ideas that could help you be more profitable next year. They are covered in more depth in our retail and buying Masterclass training courses which will be launched this year. In the next blog I will give some tips on product development and range planning. Meanwhile visit for more tips!