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  • Is Your Merchandise Plan Working Backwards?

    Do you ever feel overwhelmed when new stock arrives? Where do you put it all?

    Maybe you’re working backwards, and don’t know it.

    Does this sound a little bit familiar?

    It’s time to buy product for the next season. You know how much you want to spend. You know what type of merchandise you need to replenish. You may have a budget to spend for each department.

    You go through the catalogues and websites. You compare the suppliers minimum orders with what you think you can sell. You see some new products that you like and think your customers will buy. You make your orders.

    Sometime later, boxes begin arriving. You start putting product out on the shelves. More stock is arriving. You realize you’ll have to do some major merchandise moves to fit it all in.

    Not to mention, how are you going to create a display of some of this merchandise? There are some really great new products, but there aren’t enough of them to create a strong impact.

    It takes a considerable amount of time to get new merchandise arranged.

    You move it here. But you don’t like it.

    You move it there. It looks better, but now you have a hole over here to fill.

    And then there is this stack of merchandise that you still need to find a place for. Well, we’ll put it in this corner for now.

    There is another way.

    What if we turned the process around?

    Imagine how much easier it would be if you knew exactly where your stock would go before it arrived.

    What if you had a written plan or sketch that showed where to place each item?

    What if you didn’t have to place the stock at all, but could hand it over to a staff member?

    Unrealistic, you say?

    It isn’t. It just takes some time up front.

    Time to plan.

    Time to visualize.

    In the end you’ll save time. And headaches.

    Use these 5 steps to reduce your headaches and stress:

    1. Make a floor plan.

    Draw in all the elements of the store that don’t change–doors, walls, pillars, windows, steps, platforms, built in fixtures, electrical outlets. Make copies.

    Using one of your floor plan copies, draw in all the movable fixtures, in their current location. Make copies.

    2. Determine optimum merchandise levels.

    Working with a copy of your fixture plan, go through one department at a time. Decide what types of products can be merchandised on each fixture. Calculate the quantity of merchandise each fixture can hold.

    Identify display areas in each department. How much merchandise will be in each display?

    Label your plan with all of the types and quantities of merchandise.

    3. Order merchandise.

    As you choose merchandise, consider the department and fixture that will hold the products. Select quantities, colours and themes based on how the merchandise will coordinate in the store. Think ahead to how the merchandise will look in displays.

    Remember – your goal is to create a strong visual impact with each department. Coordinating and complimentary merchandise encourages multiple sales.

    4. Create a merchandise plan.

    Make labeled sketches of where all the new merchandise will go in the store, and in what quantities. Believe me – when the merchandise arrives, you won’t remember exactly what you planned when you ordered. Put your plan on paper.

    Don’t forget to include your current merchandise in your plan. Where will you move it to make room for the new?

    There is no need to be a perfectionist. Don’t try to draw the products. A row of bottles is a vertical rectangle. A folded sweater is a horizontal rectangle.

    The key to this step is knowing the amount of space each product will require.

    Create a clear plan that another person could follow if you weren’t there to explain it.

    5. Create a display plan.

    Determine upcoming events. Decide how often displays will be changed. Identify the key merchandise that will be in each display. Create rough sketches for each display.

    When the merchandise arrives, implement your plan.

    Better yet, if you have staff, give the plans to them to install. You can go have a cup of coffee and start on plans for next season.

    Want some help easing your merchandising headaches?

    I can help you create floor plans. Email me to find out more.


    I can coach you through the merchandise planning process. I am starting a trial coaching program that is only $150 per month for independent retailers.

    Want to find out more? Email me for details. No strings, no pressure.

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