It’s almost here – the time of the year when I was in retail, that I felt like Santa Clause! Trade fair season of course – where I used to get to choose all those amazing new products that would be given as gifts in the upcoming gift giving season! I loved it!

But – as many of you are thinking right now – it is EXHAUSTING. Walking, thinking, processing, racing from appointment to appointment – at the end of the day you were happy to lay your head and wake up to do it all again tomorrow.

As fun, exciting, overwhelming and social as it can be – we all go for one purpose – TO BUY. So, here’s my top 5 tips to help you with the buying, which I always found helped when making tough decisions (because let’s face it there is SO much beautiful stuff and our shops are only SO big!).
1. CLEAR YOUR DEAD STOCK IN ADVANCE – dead or slow-moving stock needs to go – and it needs to go before you start to think about the next trends or season favourites arriving. Selling slow-moving or dead stock has a two-fold effect – 1/ it helps the cash flow – making the bank balance healthier and 2/ makes room for the next trend or “must have” items that fit your store. Which leads me to the next point.

2. EXAMINE YOUR STORE LAYOUT IN DETAIL – every section of your store needs to make money – agreed? If you are good with your numbers you’ll have divided your store in sections, (at Inspiring Retail we teach how to know your hot/warm/cold zones of your shop) and therefore you will know how much money each section needs to generate to reach your financial goals. Before heading off into the buying season, carefully examine those sections – do you have the right product for the right section or do you have products missing? What are they? What do they look like and what kind of turn-over is expected from a new product if it’s put into the hot zone as opposed to the cold zone. Make a list – take it with you. Knowing what’s missing and what sections of the store need new products will help ensure you buy the rights products and that you don’t buy products that simply won’t fit when they arrive (and it can help you not over spend!).

3. LOOK OUT FOR SPECIALS ON YOUR TOP 10 PRODUCTS – Everyone knows their top 10 products. But I urge you to look again. So many retailers, that I work with, THINK they know but through examination of their record keeping system it appears they are often wrong – so before you buy more top 10’s – double check they are REALLY in your top 10! With your 10 top products in mind – look out for specials on them – buying bulk and receiving a wholesale discount can really help you achieve your financial goals – and keep your customer’s satisfied!

4. BUDGET – SORRY NOT SORRY – We all KNOW we should set a budget. We all KNOW we should stick to our budget – but the reality is there’s so much great stuff! My advice to my clients, if you know what you want to be famous for, what your niche is and who your ideal customer is, then that makes sticking to a budget easier! Asking yourself, “does this fit into my store, will my customers consume it and will they pay that price for it” helps when getting distracted by, what I like to call, BSOs (bright shiny objects!).

5. RESEARCH TRENDS BEFORE YOU GO – ESPECIALLY FROM YOUR CURRENT SUPPLIERS – If, at all possible, ask for catalogues from your current suppliers before heading to fair (including their specials). Or if not possible, make your current suppliers your first call at fair. I know I was caught buying something new and innovative from a new supplier, only to land at the stand of a current supplier to see something similar. Checking out the new trends from suppliers you already know and love (and they know you and love you) can help with logistics and even specials as a loyal customer. Any research you can do on the new craze, new trends or new innovations will help you buy well and stick to your budget!

Lastly, it goes without saying, wear comfortable shoes, drink plenty of water and eat well. They are big days and although us retailers are used to being on our feet and talking all day – trade fairs have a habit of zapping our energy levels! Take care, buy well and may your choices help you kick your financial goals!