Building the collection

Having spent 2 very full days at Moda and read up on numerous press releases from every part of the shoe trade I think I am ready to start to put pen to paper or is that finger to the keyboard and begin ordering for Autumn Winter stock.

I always find the show extremely hard work but I always seem to get my just rewards later in the year. It was interesting to hear how much effort some people had made. One lady had left her home in the North East at 4am on Sunday morning and was planning to travel back Sunday night, I hope she got home safely. That shows real commitment to her business and she deserves to do well. As for those who didn’t bother or felt they know everything about the trade and didn’t need to attend, you may well live to regret it one day. There is always something new happening and as a retailer you need to be on the ball. Suppliers won’t bite you, come on have a look and then decide if it’s for you or not.

OK back to buying. I have loads of photos, catalogues and sample orders from the show so my next job is to decide who I am buying from and who is being dropped.

Now I need to decide how many pairs I am going to buy in total. This figure should be based on your previous season sales. Then split this into the various categories:- long boots, short boots, shoes, waterproofs footwear, slippers, dress shoes etc etc. These categories will be different for every business and also the quantities per category depending on your type of business. One of my strongest principals in retail is that you must decide which area of the Shoe trade you want your business to represent and stick to it, dressy, casual, high grade, value Etc etc. It doesn’t matter as long as you stick to it when buying otherwise you will confuse the consumer.

Once this is established I then allocate each supplier the pairage I feel will give them a good representation in the shop. I start with my biggest supplier and work down to the new accounts I am looking to bring in. Remember you must list all suppliers and take into account continuing stock from some suppliers. At this point you need to decide whether you are buying specific product from specific suppliers ie waterproof footwear, do you buy from 3 or 4 suppliers or put all your eggs in one basket? The suppliers don’t like it as they feel they are being pigeon holed but very often a supplier is excellent at one area and OK at others so why not buy the best from each supplier?

Now we have all our numbers worked out we can get down to seeing the Agent. I tend to use stockrooms if possible as it’s a much better way to see the whole range rather than having the agent stuck in the stockroom with shoes balanced everywhere.

Select the styles you have already seen at the show then talk through with the agent his best sellers and between you come up with a collection which will sit in your shop and also represent the brand. Next is one of the most important parts of the buy, the sizes. The number of times as an agent myself I have been told “ you do the sizes or I’ll have a pair of a size” This is crazy, different shoes sell in different areas, some styles are better in small sizes some in larger sizes. You will always sell at least 3 times as many size 5’s as 3’s. So sit and think about the size runs you want.

Remember, Agents and Reps have a job to do but it’s down to you to work with them to build the right collection for your business. Don’t ignore them or say you’re too busy to attend their stockroom. It’s your money and you can spend it how you like but make sure you look thoroughly before you commit.

When you have seen each supplier deduct how many you have bought from your totals and hopefully by the end of the buying period you should have an evenly balanced collection. All of this is only possible if you give the time to your buying, whether it’s visiting the shows, attending Stockrooms or making sure you give dedicated time to agents who visit your business.

Remember, Agents and Reps have a job to do but it’s down to you to work with them to build the right collection for your business. Don’t ignore them or say you’re too busy to attend their stockroom. It’s your money and you can spend it how you like but make sure you look thoroughly before you commit.

Please email and give me your thoughts or subjects you would like me to natter on about in future editions to Misfitfootwear@hotmail.com.

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