Summer is drawing to an end, and most of our buyers have already started their buying for next season. A common source of worry at this time though, is that you still have a LOT of inventory, and the season is coming to an end.
In my buyer training, I was taught to do small trial orders that we would trial in the low season in just 4 of our 16 stores. If the line did well in those stores, then we would do a BIG re-order just before high season, so that once the busy time started, we were fully stocked and ready to roll with the good stuff.
Hopefully that meant that the disasters we trialled were not too disastrous as we had only started out with small trial orders. That can differ with the fashion lines though, as often the best sellers are SOLD OUT by the time your high season comes around, so you really need to order deep at the outset. It can be a gamble.
The one thing that I learnt from my 5 years in retail, was to try everything you can to get it to move before you give up on it.
Ok we had 16 stores, so we were able to move slower sellers to the busier stores, and put it on display there, perhaps that is something you can try if you have multiple stores. If not, then definitely try it in a different location within your store.... and try adding some brand signage.
Next you need to try changing up your displays, as often just hanging it on a rack does not mean it will sell. Do you have a size Small, or Medium (smaller sizes look better on the hanger) hanging face out? Are you able to put one item on a mannequin nearby? Have you accessorized the line with other items in your boutique that would good together? Can you add a hat, necklace, beach bag, or glamorous sandals to your display?
Do you have your rack arranged in SIZE ORDER, so that your customer can easily find their size? Sometimes just making it easy for your customer is a great help. Another thing to try is to display your rack in color combinations to make it look more appealing than just a jumble of color.
The important thing is to change your displays REGULARLY, to keep your customers coming back in to see what is new. Even if it is not new merchandise, a new display might catch their eye on the next visit.
Finally if your changes have not moved the line, you need to swallow your pride (you loved it when you bought it, so you can't understand why it didn't move) and mark down the prices. We always found a SALE rack out front helped to bring customers into the store, so we would rotate our sale merchandise onto that rack. I see that the big retailers in USA tend to have the SALE section at the back of the store, and I am sure there is a science to that. Showing off their new lines out front.
As my company was owned by a big corporate retailer, they were mainly concerned with the NUMBERS.... I had to maintain my Gross Profit at all times.... at the end of each month, I had to analyze the figures with them and they needed an explanation if the gross profit dropped. Our low season was the time that we put things on SALE. Obviously if you pay $25 for a tunic and then sell it for $50, but then need to make it down on SALE 50% off, then you are back to the cost price of $25 - oops that is ZERO gross profit. You got to make that up somehow.
I found this old photo of myself at my desk, and I can see I have FIGURES on my computer screen.... a lot of time was spent analyzing the numbers.
To make up some extra ground with the GP, I used to do some special items that were at cheaper cost prices, that I could sell for higher retail prices, to try to buffer up the gross profit in those sale months. Not always easy, but we had 16 stores, and we could use our volume to get better cost prices at times.
Always remember to keep the "golden rule of retail" in your mind...
YES the number ONE rule of retail is DISPLAY! Don't forget to try different things, and change it up often. I was sent this photo of our sarong display in one of our new Australian boutiques in Bundaberg Marina. This Marina is the gateway to Australia's beautiful Great Barrier Reef.
I love how they have used a mannequin to show how to wear the sarong and then they have hung all of their sarongs, and utilized the packaging that comes with the sarong too. Doesn't it look great !