Often, many retailers resist change due to a variety of reasons – including ease, lack of knowledge, persuasion from others and more. Yet the same retailers who resist innovation and change run the risk of becoming obsolete. Simply put, playing it safe isn’t safe anymore. After all, retail is an industry where trends can change overnight… and some of the most successful retailers in the business either didn’t exist or look completely different than they did just a few years ago. Keeping this in mind, it’s critical for merchants to regularly evaluate their inventory in order to rid of stagnant merchandise while also identifying opportunities to add new categories to their existing business.
If you’re looking for new ways to increase the excitement and profitability of your store, look out for the following five signs that it might be time to add a new merchandise category to your inventory assortment.
#1. It’s Time for Something New
A customer should find something different every time they visit your store. Keeping your inventory fresh needs be a #1 priority if you want to win return customers and boost sales. This means evaluating your inventory on a regular basis to find which items are selling well and which products need to be replaced with more compelling items. Shopify suggests an effective 3-step method of merchandise planning that includes the following:
1) Analyze results from years past
2) Plan for the season ahead
3) Adjust your inventory as needed
By following this simple, 3-step process, you will be able to make the necessary modifications to ensure that your inventory stays fluid and store profits keep rolling in.
#2. There Is an Opening in Your Community
If local retailers within your community don’t carry specific products or brands that are in demand, this presents an opportunity for your store to meet consumer demands… and thus, create more business for your store. This same concept works for online retailers, as well, who are able to identify a growing trend before their online competitors – positioning them to capture online dollars sooner than later. The main takeaway here is simple, really. As a merchant, you must be ready to move on an opportunity when you see it… as well as regularly add hot-ticket items to your existing inventory. This also means being able to afford to – which means planning your buying budget accordingly so that you always have dollars to spend if you need to make some quick decisions.
#3. Fear Gets in the Way
All too often retailers hesitate to jump on a trending category because they’re worried that it won’t resonate with their particular demographic or audience. However, it is an online world and trends are more universal than ever. So, if you have done your market research, talked with a few of your existing customers and have the liquid capitol to invest, don’t let the fear of taking a risk mean that you wait too long to jump on a trend, new product category or new-to-your brand. This is particularly important if you consider how a competitor can snatch up your market share for these same items – eliminating your chance of increasing store sales.
By being a first responder to the newest trends in your industry, you welcome continual interest from existing customers while also welcoming the opportunity to capture new consumer attention, as well. Easing into this strategy is a great way to minimize risk, but not easing into it at all can position you to not gain the appropriate market dollars you deserve. Start small by stocking a few trending items and leverage email marketing and social media to help promote them. You may be surprised how fear becomes replaced with excitement, instead!
#4. Customers are Asking for More Options
If things in your store have gotten to a point where your customers regularly ask for other brands or inventory, your ordering habits may have become too routine – which can be detrimental to your business. If this is the case, there is a good chance that your customers are able to see something that you can’t about your existing inventory. To help avoid this, train your sales associates to ask customers what other brands, inventory or product categories they may be interested in seeing in your store. The key is to create conversations that will allow you to better understand what your customers truly want.
When making this a part of your routine, be sure to take notes so that you can refer back to what you are hearing over time. Ideally, you will do this so routinely that it becomes part of your selling strategy and as a result, part of your buying strategy. The general insight gained from your customers will deliver added data to your current inventory understanding and thus, help you make more strategic buying decisions.
#5. You Believe in the Product
Every once in a while, you will be introduced to a product that simply blows you away and you’ll be tempted to add it to your store – even if it’s a bit unexpected than your normal inventory assortment. If it is something you truly believe in, don’t resist the inclination to introduce a small batch of this item to your existing customers. Gut instinct has proven successful for many retailers, yet data should always help lead you in the majority of your buying decisions. Let this instinct drive you to new product categories, items and brands… yet use data along the way to ensure they are worth investing in on a larger level.
Finally, as you aim to enhance your overall inventory assortment, consider how attending a trade show that offers you more than what you are familiar with can help. ASD Market Week – held bi-annually in Las Vegas – is nine shows in one, welcoming retailers to explore the categories they know they need while also getting to discover new products, brands and ideas they may not know they love. Learn more about ASD Market Week here.
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this March 11-14, 2018 in Las Vegas.
By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, RetailMinded.com