Inventory for a retail pet store owner is both an asset and a liability. It's an asset because without inventory in your pet retail location, you won't make any sales. It's a liability because you need to purchase and stock your store and cross your fingers that you have invested in inventory that your customers want to open their wallets and buy for their dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, hamsters, reptiles, fish and any number of other pets who make up a household.
What's a retailer to do?
With the holiday season fast approaching it's tempting to bring in every new offering a product manufacturer has to offer, but you need to ask yourself?
- Do I have the space in the store?
- Is this something my customers will truly want/need?
- What item will it replace?
- Will it be relevant after the holidays have passed? Example: If you stock up on doggie Santa sweaters, what will you do with them after the need for doggie Santa sweaters has passed?
- Are you looking for at-the-counter impulse purchases or do you want your store to be known as the go-to place for XYZ item?
Ensure Your Retail Store Is Ready For Holiday Shopping Season
Here are some questions to ask yourself during the run-up to the holiday shopping season to help ensure you can meet customer demand with your supply and that you can be profitable and that the items won't be sitting on your shelves collecting dust.
- Invest in what sells. This may seem a no-brainer, but if you're buying items that aren't selling you are filling your store with unwanted and unnecessary inventory AND you're investing your hard-earned money on items that are fast becoming a liability. In a recent article in Pets+ magazine, Pet Boss Nation CEO Candace D'Agnolo writes, "Know your best-selling 25 items and keep them in stock. Keep one and a half month's worth of supply and replenish regulary." Do you know what your top 25 best-selling items are? If not, you need to get busy with that by checking past inventory against sales and on-hand stock. Keep these items front and center and this may help you have a profitable holiday season.
- Don't stock your shelves impulsively. It's tempting to bring in the trending item, but is that item something your customer wants? If it's an item that might sell well in a metropolitan area, but not in your rural store, don't buy it. Chances are your customer base won't truly care what the stylish cat in New York City is being carried around in.
- Know what you have on hand. If you don't have a good point of sale system, you won't have any way of knowing what you ordered, when you ordered it, whether it's sold and needed to be replenished and whether it's simply taking up shelf space. You may need to look at the inventory and decide to run a half-off sale just to get rid of your old dusty items that are taking up valuable real estate on your shelves.
Bottom line. Don't panic! There is still time to look at your inventory and determine what should stay, what you need more of and what you should jettison. Start today getting ready for the holiday rush. Why not ask your most frequent customers what they love about your inventory and your store, what they'd love for you to carry that you currently don't and any other helpful insight they have to offer. Remember, though, just because one customer says, "I wish you carried ABC" you don't need to rush right out and stock it -- especially if it's an item that is a high price tag and that may not move off the shelves.
What to carry in your store is a delicate balancing act and you need to truly know your customers, their needs and wants and how you can meet them in a way that's profitable for you.
Discussion points: Is this your first holiday season? Are you a seasoned pro at meeting and "winning" the holiday season inventory stock-up? We would love your questions, insights and comments!
Bio. Robbi Hess is a journalist, published author, bi-petual pet parent (two dogs, three cats, three reptiles) and long-time pet blogger. She is an Effectiveness and Efficiency Specialist, working with pet business solopreneurs to help them improve ther productivity so they can accomplish their most important goals and be more profitable at #30MinuteSolopopreneur and at All Words Matter, Inc. She also manages content at Positively Woof for its more than 2 million Facebook followers.