Preparing for Market
Throughout my 10+ years in the industry, I’ve learned successful gift retailers give priority to attending winter gift shows. The winter shows kick off the largest buying/product planning season for all gift retailers. If you are not prioritizing planning, you are missing out on one of the most important aspects to keeping your gift store successful.
Your next questions likely involve something such as: “Why is it important? What does this mean for me? Where should I start? What should I plan for?” This is why I am sharing some advice, along with some tips from other industry experts, to help you make the most of winter shows and the largest buying season.
START WITH A PLAN.
You cannot expect to accomplish exciting results from attending these show(s) and sourcing new products for your store without establishing a plan. If you are a new buyer, start with research to determine when the shows are held, where the event is located, and if the venue provides new buyer help. Markets do provide this information directly on the websites, but you will need time to plan and research this information.
“Market planning is an all-year activity. Attending our business-building webinars, reading the Atlanta Market Magazine and Las Vegas Market Preview and following us on social media to see the latest and greatest products help buyers maximize their time during the most exciting weeks in the gift industry,” Chelsea Peabody Bohannon, senior public relations manager, International Market Centers, shared. Discover More at www.AtlantaMarket. com and www.LasVegasMarket.com.
FOR EXPERIENCED BUYERS, CREATE A PRE-MARKET TO-DO LIST.
Spend some time on a to-do list before you go to the winter shows — it gives you more focus and clarity to accomplish what you need for your business to remain successful. This list could include brands and showrooms that are a must-see, what sales reps you need to book appointments with, what travel arrangements need to be made, and what product categories or merchandise you will be specifically looking for at market.
COME WITH A BUDGET.
You only want to bring the best products to your retail store, but what you don’t want to do is overspend! I’ve seen it first hand — inexperienced and experienced buyers get swept away with the “market excitement” and make irrational money decisions. Come with a budget (or at least review and establish some budget parameters), and also know what you spent on product last year. You can even take it a step further and break the stats down into Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4. Also, consider creating a budget for product categories (i.e. toys, baby, personal care, home décor, apparel, etc.). The most successful retail buyers have been known to bring a binder to market with them, where every order from every vendor is organized to help keep track of budgets and orders placed. The binder also serves as a reminder and way to locate all the orders you placed once you return home — without scrambling.
PREBOOK. PREBOOK. PREBOOK.
Winter shows mark the launch of all new seasonal product for more than 70% of vendors. This includes prebooking Holiday merchandise in January/February of the current year — and you thought Christmas was over! If you want to get ahead and do what other successful retailers do, be prepared to prebook for all seasonal merchandise for the entire year.
Also, prebooking is on every retail buyer’s priority list given the current national import delays we still continue to experience. In order to work with these current challenges, it is more important than ever to prebook your product, which can guarantee your merchandise arrives on time and with enough time to resell.
ASK FOR SHOW SPECIALS AND SHIP DATES.
Don’t forget to ask each vendor about show specials and ship dates (SSS). If you are not working directly with your sales rep (i.e. temporary vendor staff is assisting you), up front show specials will not always be communicated to you. This is why you should always ask about show specials with every order, in every showroom or vendor booth.
When it comes to ship dates, remember the same thing —ASK! Not to go on repeat, but this is important as the current import challenges are real. Retail buyers need to know dates upfront so they can ensure that they have enough inventory to meet sales goals for operating expenses.
A fellow 40 Under 40 honoree, Landon Metts, sales manager for Creative Brands Companies, offered this advice: “The best vendors will be able to communicate expected ship dates for their products. They have been able to pivot and understand the importance of stock status to retailers right now. For example, Creative Brands Companies is going into the winter show season with two areas we know buyers are looking for: available now and prebooking. We have adapted and will be ready with this information on hand to help our retailers as much as we can!” Discover more at cb-gift.com.