Rumor has it that this phrase may have originated in circuses, dating back to the 19th century. When a circus performer got injured performing their death-defying or otherwise demanding act, the ringmaster and the band would keep the entertainment going so that the crowd wouldn’t worry and panic. And thus, the expression was born. At some point, the phrase came to apply to business in general, So, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the jewelry trade shows will go on with safety protocols in place.
It is said that trade shows will continue to be ever so important as people need people. We’re social creatures and we crave in-person interaction. We’re a communal species. Humans aren’t meant to be alone. The isolation we’ve faced during the pandemic has made and will make community more important than ever because we can’t do everything alone, and we don’t want to do everything alone.
Additionally, trade shows are powerful tools for boosting business profits for both the vendors and retailers. The secret is to plan for success, spend time wisely and prioritize tasks. Whether or not you plan to attend trade shows or buy online, advance planning of your merchandise assortment is required so that you have the right selection of merchandise for the important sales months ahead.
One thing that the numbers tell us so far is that the pandemic was good for many jewelry retailers. And silver continued to perform well providing strong sell thru and margins. Analysts say many people will continue to curtail travel and vacations and will continue to focus their discretionary income on retail purchases.
So here are a few tips to consider when preparing for your upcoming purchases.
1) Review The Numbers – Not your macro numbers, like how we did for the month or year, but the micro numbers. What are your top three to five categories in gross sales in terms of profitability?
2) Analyze – Many independent retail jewelry owners are chronic over-buyers. It’s so much fun to buy things! Keep in mind that if you bring in something new, it might mean that an under-performing line or collection has to go.
3) Know your Sales vs Stock Ratio – It is important to understand if your best-selling products turned too quickly last year (or season) and sold out, this may be why your sales are down as you didn’t actually have enough inventory. For this analysis, you should run a simple sales to stock ratio by category to get an overall picture of where you are over and under-stocked.
4) Set Your Goals – Go to the show looking to add to your most profitable, best-selling categories. And be sure to include specific descriptions of what you want to find at the show, i.e. impulse items, key “gift” price points, silver self-purchase items, etc.
4) Be Liberal – With your best retail categories, go ahead, try new things, unproven things, things you have a hunch on. The marketplace looks to you for such items because those categories are paying off.
5) STOP – Don’t buy more of your bottom performing categories because those categories aren’t contributing enough to your bottom line. Remember where the profit is!
6) Use Your Open-to-Buy Wisely – In its most basic form, it means you can’t buy unless something else has sold. If it’s a collection that you believe hasn’t performed well due to pandemic related issues, ask for a stock trade to get the assortment right.
7) Set a Reserve Open to Buy – Due to the high costs, limited staffing, and post-COVID trepidation, etc., many designers and brands might not be exhibiting, but it does not mean that their collections should be overlooked. Again – see what categories are areas of growth for your business and home in on bringing in a new collection or buying more of a collection that has shown potential.
8) Schedule Wisely – Remember that ‘A’ list of vendors (Tip #4)? Make sure you see them all by scheduling advance appointments before you leave for the show. If they are on you’re ‘A’ list, they are sure to be on others ‘A’ lists as well! Also be sure to talk to your team and get their comments and ideas.
9) Place the Order – If you find just what you need, order at the show. Some brands will often offer specials for buying at the show, so be sure to ask and take advantage of the opportunity. It’s also a chance to talk though the collection with the vendor and learn about their POS materials and brand support. And, most importantly begin to establish a long-term relationship.