Last updateWed, 19 Oct 2016 12am


Dealing with vendors in-store

The phone is ringing. A battery needs to be put into a watch for a customer and there is another repair to be done to a chain for a lady who will be back in five minutes. The insurance broker is due this afternoon, the registration is due to be paid on the car and the computer system hasn’t been updated from last week’s stock take. Then a diamond vendor that had called yesterday and said he was coming at 10:30 has arrived ten minutes early.

You and your vendor – how to make the relationship work

"A General is just as good or bad as the troops under his command make him." - Gen. Douglas McArthur

In the same way that a General depends on his soldiers to move forward, a jeweler's success will rise and fall depending on who he works with. Aside from staff and customers the other human resource crucial to a business which is often overlooked by many store owners is the vendor - after all, without him there is no product to sell.

Vendor relationships are as varied as there are human emotions. Antagonism can often develop caused by either party and it is easy to see your vendor as being on the other side of the fence. Yet despite any differences, you share a strong common bond - you both benefit from seeing more of their product being sold to your customers. From this perspective you can see yourself less as friendly adversaries and more as united partners.

So how can you make this relationship stronger?

  • Make a commitment to your vendor. The more you spend with them the more valuable you become and the more they will do for you in return. You know with your own business that the customers who spend the most with you get the best treatment. If you spend a little each with thirty different suppliers you can't expect the same treatment as you would if you spend a lot with ten.
  • Re-order your fast sellers. This is basic common sense for both you and your vendor. What is the cost of bringing in a new item? The wholesale price? No. For you it's the time you spend looking at the reps range, the cost of travelling to trade fairs and the setting up of the item in your computer system along with your staff's time with display tickets and getting it displayed. For your vendor it's the design and set up costs and the travel to retailers or trade shows. What is the cost to you both when you reorder that item? Ignoring freight and restocking, the only cost is an e-mail and the price of the goods and the same is true of your vendor. The profit comes, for both of you, when that item sells a second, third, fourth and fifth time. What's more, the chances of an item selling again when it has already sold once is four times as great as a brand new item that you've just brought in.
  • Pay your bills when they are due. Will a vendor show his best stock to the customer who meets his obligations or the one he has to hound for payment? I know what I would do.

So enough of keeping your end of the bargain. What more do you gain from all of this?

This is the best part! A retailer with a strong relationship with a vendor will often find the other party is able to do the following:

  • Offer you their best price. Doors open when you commit to a vendor. Like anyone, they can do better deals the more you spend, and it need not be an upfront payment. A promise to reach certain buying targets over an extended period will see you get the best price possible.
  • Provide memo inventory. Certain vendors can only provide large quantities of this in a limited capacity, but almost all are able to send you some extra pieces around special promotional periods or to show special customers. Again, the ability to take advantage of this will depend on the level they value your business and the extent to which you are prepared to reorder what sells. It is in both your interests to get good sellers back whether they are items you own or have on memo.
  • Exchange slow moving inventory. Again it's in the interests of both of you that old items are moved out to make way for product that can sell several times over. The vendor can often on-sell this to another retailer, however there is no point in asking 18 months after you've bought it when the market has changed. This product needs to move on while the vendor can still sell it.
  • Exclusivity. You can sometimes find the items you buy can be exclusive to you in your shopping centre or town. You can also get first choice in new items when they are introduced to the range.
  • Customer evenings. Your vendors will often provide you with extra product or specials for these events and even attend in-store evenings themselves with their full range of products.

As the good General also said; "We are not retreating - just advancing in a different direction."

If you need help with controlling your inventory and securing a better arrangement with your vendors contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How to eliminate your aged inventory

One of the larger banes in the life of any retailer is the problem of old product - those items you thought were a good buy, but once in-store proved not to be the case. Sadly, it's a reality of retail. Even the best buyers (despite what they might tell you) will only get 20-30% of their buying right. Aged inventory is as sure as the sun rising. The issue is, how do you deal with it? For every store there are only four options:

Cutting Edge: Turning information into success: Stephen Barnes’ Double Edge

Estimates are that as many as 3,500 jewelry outlets will close their doors this year. All too many jewelers are in survival mode. Yet Barnes Jewelers of Goldsboro, NC, isn't. In fact, Barnes is expanding from one outlet to two.

Manager Stephen Barnes says the reason for his success is simple: he's got a double edge. "The Edges are absolutely 100% responsible for this," he says, referring to Abbot & Shapiro's The Edge System with its retail automation technology and The Edge Retail Academy and its beyond-cutting-edge coaching.

Gourmet on the Go

Tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock is ticking down to summer’s end. No doubt many of us will be ending the summer season the same way we started it - with backyard barbecues.

It should come as no surprise that my friends know that I like to cook, so this time of year I often receive frantic phone calls from them asking what easily prepared but impressive dish they can bring to a barbecue or party. I am sharing with you two easy and very healthy potato salad recipes that are always a hit.

Open the Window of Opportunity this Holiday Season

Whew! It's already that time of year again. Here we are heading into the 4th quarter, a make or break time for many retailers where traditionally many hope to generate as much as 40% of their annual sales in the last 45 days of the year. Hopefully, you have completed most of your planning and marketing strategy for this crucial period. Luckily, there is one critical area where you can still make a substantial impact on your financial outcome this Holiday Season for a minimal investment. That is by applying the "science of shopping" through effective use of signage.

Ramirez-OctWhy is point-of-sale signage so critically important? There is a brief "Window of Opportunity" you have with every consumer that engages a contact point with your business, either by walking past your store, entering your store, and/or viewing one of the marketing communications you have placed to promote your business. Many market researchers will argue that this "Window of Opportunity" is a mere seconds in length. When your availability to connect with your customer only lasts a few seconds you better WOW them with your message or experience if you expect to capture their business. Even with your "regular" customers, both the number of product options available and the increasing number of media/information channels have eroded the traditional brand loyalty of this consumer. The result is that many more buying decisions are being made in the store itself. It means that shoppers are susceptible to impressions and information they acquire inside stores. Industry marketing guru Pamela Danziger states this eloquently in her book "Let Them Eat Cake": "Over 95% of consumers buy something other than what they went in intending to buy when shopping in a store selling luxury goods."

With quality point-of-sale signage you can have a considerable effect on the traffic flow in your store, the products your customers ultimately purchase, and the products your associates choose to sell. When planning the positioning of your signage, you will most probably do this when the store is empty. Signs are intended to capture their audience and most attention when the store is crowded or full, particularly at Christmas, so take this into account when you are planning your signage strategy. Make sure that you don't put signage where it will be blocked by your customers when they are shopping, and placing a sign just because you have available space for it is a waste of effort and money. Focus your attention on using strategic available space wisely. As with real estate, think location, location, location.

The 4 Types of Signage

  1. Directional: Exit/Enter, location, and where to go.
  2. Informational: Special price offers, features & benefits, and inquiries.
  3. Aspirational: Creates a difference, sets the bar, as in "I Want to Be That."
  4. Motivational: Starts the shopping process, gets consumers to ask questions, establishes importance to sales associates.

When planning your signage strategy, it is of primary importance to match the type of sign with the correct message zone for each sign. Once again, think location, location, location. Listed below are the message zones in order of importance.
Retail Environment
Message Zones

  1. Wall Near Merchandise: Usually motivational and product oriented.
  2. Front Windows: First contact with the store. Observe the "2-second" rule. Good for informational, aspirational, and motivational.
  3. Merchandise Counters: Easiest to put up and take down, but hard to stand out. Can be motivational, aspirational, and informational.
  4. Way Finders: Mostly short term. Reinforce other zones. Directional/informational.
  5. Sight Lines/Cash Wrap: Once again short term. Good for informational and to reinforce other zones.
  6. Floor: Branding in the decompression zone (between the interior and exterior of the store), and possibly in aisles in large stores. Floor graphics that augment the interior of the store.
  7. Hi & Bye: The first and last impression of the store. Should be changed often. Good for directional and informational.

We have established that location and matching the type of sign with the correct message zone must be priorities to maximize the effectiveness of your in-store signage. Another cardinal rule is to limit your text, and live by the 2-second rule. You have a limited "Window of Opportunity," so use it wisely and stick to your primary message.

When planning your in-store signage strategy, remember that your objective is to motivate consumers with in-store visuals. This means directing them to those products or services that produce the greatest return-on-investment for your store. Direct the traffic flow accordingly and motivate them to purchase with your messaging. Rely on your core vendors to supply you with professional graphics. Most vendors, especially those trying to establish a brand presence in the minds of the consumer, have graphics available free of charge. Last but not least, frequently change your in-store signage to keep it fresh and new, and do so continuously through the year not just during the Holidays. In-store signage is an extremely powerful marketing tool that enables you to influence the buying behavior of your customers at a very marginal cost.

David Ramirez is Executive Director of Brand Development for Dangler Studios in Sarasota, FL. He has a BS degree in Communications from Boston University with a double minor in marketing and advertising. His twenty seven years of industry experience include seven years at J. Walter Thompson as a brand consultant to the Diamond Trading Company, and other notable industry leaders A. Jaffe, Frederick Goldman, and Spark Creations.

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