FOR WHOLESALE & DISTRIBUTION
You want your retailers to sell through their product this season, particularly if they gave you nice increases based on past good results (or pure optimism). Help them succeed, because no one wants to be fielding requests for RTVs or markdown money in January.
Note: we recommend the strategies below regardless of any purchase increase you may or may not have received. They are effective techniques for a good sell-thru.
RETAIL EMPLOYEE SALES INCENTIVES
Store employees are the face of your product. Give them added incentive to highlight your product to consumers. This could be a cash bonus, product bonus, or a dinner out for the entire store team. Do the cost-benefit analysis, determine how many retailers you will extend out to and what you will offer. Over the years we've loved:
- Gift cards sent to staff each time they have achieved $xxxx in sales.
- Product prizes for every $xxxx sold from November 1 to December 24 (the prize period should end once your retailer's clearance period begins).
- Dinner & drinks to celebrate a xx percent increase in sales over last year.
HOLDING INVENTORY AND BACK-STOCK
You may want to carry inventory for some of your best retailers. If you are able to sell the back-up stock to your retailers, your sales/purchases will increase for the year. It may also result in larger purchases from that same retailer for next year, as retailers often base their sales on what was actually sold for the time period, NOT what they planned to sell.
When (if) your retailer hits a positive sales trend EARLY in the season, before approximately Dec 10, you have the opportunity to offer them inventory that they need, and are optimistic about selling. Be sure to balance the desire to help your retailers in this way with the risk of being left with the inventory. To help minimize the risk:
- Be selective with the retailers you offer to 'hold' inventory for. They should be of significance to your business (i.e. large volume or industry leaders) - your 'A' retailers.
- Confirm a reasonable date at which you can begin selling the held product to your other retailers - this is called the 'release date'.
- Choose the back-up product wisely. Season-less product can be sold at a later date without discounting. High volume product with a good sales history is also a safer choice. If your 'A' retailers don't need the inventory, you may be able to sell it to other retailers at a smaller discount.
- Act quickly to get the agreements in place. Act quickly to suggest repeats to your retailers. Act quickly to get rid of the inventory after the release date.
There is plenty of time to hit the hills after December 24th when you're retailers will be so busy they can't even look at you. Up until that point, why not do what you can to ensure they sell-out of your product? Use the right promotional strategies to help your retailers GENERATE TRAFFIC and create consumer DEMAND for the product they bought. That means:
- Promoting specific retailers, with links to their websites, store locations, etc
- Highlighting product (that your most important retailers bought). When choosing product to feature, think Neiman Marcus' Fantasy book:
- Best-selling product which will drive sales dollars $$.
- Attention getting product.
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: Receipts, Stock-Swaps, & Early Markdowns
This time of year, retailers are busy on-floor selling to customers. During the most-signifcant sales period, most retailers have less time to manage the business. Help them out - this extra work will get you happy retailers, possibly more sales, and if done correctly, more profitable sales.
- Receipts: The key to a successful season is ensuring receipts deliver early, or at least on-time. If your retailers sell-out early, they can reorder early. A November sell-out can mean a repeat order delivering early December if everyone is moving quickly.
- Sell-thru Reports: Get your hands on your retailers sell-thru reports and monitor them weekly. This is where you will see your over-performers and your under-performers. Take action for both. Suggest stock-swaps or markdowns early to drive sales (while your retailers have the traffic in-store) for under-performing product. Offer repeats where possible on quick turning items.
- BOW (beginning-of-week) inventory levels vs plan: Beginning November 1, monitor inventory levels weekly. As soon as inventory levels at any store begin to dip below plan, you need to look at their upcoming purchase orders. From that, determine if you need to a) DELIVER EARLY and/or b) SUGGEST A RE-ORDER. If they are exceeding their sales plans, or have had any delivery cancellations, you will likely need to suggest more product orders to maintain your inventory and sales levels. However, if the retailer is below inventory plan due to late or delayed deliveries, ordering more product may not be the answer.
Once the holidays are over, make it a resolution to pick up something new for your business - info, a skill, some fresh ideas. Subscribe to some of our online courses & workshops to get ahead, and sign-up for our weekly newsletter.
Have a great holiday season.