Planning your best merchandise assortment is a constantly evolving process. It’s always a work in progress. What was right last season, last year, or ten years ago might not be right today.
Your merchandise assortment goes through (or should go through!) a predictable cycle that repeats itself over and over again.
- Figure Out What to Buy. This step includes, among other things, understanding your overarching merchandising philosophy, having a clear and appropriate department structure, studying what your customer has purchased in the past, and using your “gut instinct” about what your customers will like.
- Buy It. Seems simple enough, but there are a few tricks to the actual purchasing process that can make you extra money and save you a ton of headaches. The Assortment Planning kit of the Retail Mast System goes into this in more detail.
- Offer It to Your Customers. This part of the merchandise assortment cycle is what most store owners really love! It’s the visual display, marketing, and selling of the merchandise you just bought.
- Your Customer “Votes.” This is where the rubber really meets the road in the assortment planning process. Your customer buys or does not buy, the merchandise you elected to include in your assortment.
- Count the “Votes.” You have to track and analyze exactly what your customer is buying, and what they are leaving in the store. To do this effectively you must have a good, computerized point of sale system.
- Adjust In-Store. Buy more of what’s selling. Try to figure out why slow-moving items aren’t selling. Sometimes the reason is lack of good visual merchandising, insufficient product knowledge on the part of your sales staff, or poor marketing efforts on your part and you need to adjust. Re-merchandise, train your staff, or develop a creative marketing plan. Sometimes you just need to take the markdown!
Which leads you back to… 1. Figure Out What to Buy.
Now that you have counted the customers’ votes and know more about what they will buy and what they won’t, you can figure out a NEW PLAN for what to buy the next time around. This cycle repeats itself over and over again for the life of your store and gets easier and easier to use every year.
Want to learn more about Assortment Planning? Check out the Retail Mastery System!
The Assortment Planning module, combined with the Inventory Management module is the one-two punch you need to plan your merchandise cycle.