Controlling the inventory investment is the single most important aspect of running a retail business. Planning merchandise buying in direct relation to sales and stock turn rates is the key to ensuring the right investment at the right time. The best way to monitor this is through a well-conceived Open-to-Buy (OTB) plan.
Simply stated, OTB involves developing monthly inventory plans by department. If a retailer needs $5,000 of inventory (at retail) on January 1 and needs $6,000 on February 1, then the retailer obviously will need to receive an additional $1,000 of merchandise before February 1 arrives. If the store plans to sell $500 during January, the store will need a total of $1,500 to be sure that $6,000 is available for sale on February 1. That is the easy part of an OTB plan.
The hard part is knowing if $5,000 or $6,000 is the right amount. That’s where ProphetLine can assist. We offer formulas that calculate the optimum inventory level based on the merchandise classification. We will help you develop sales, markdown and stock turn rate plans for your classifications. Then we will provide you with the recommended monthly inventories that you should maintain in order to stay on track.
Developing a plan is half the battle. The next step is executing the plan. That means monitoring your ability to meet the sales projections and stay within the inventory budget. Mathematical analysis can spot trends more efficiently than intuition. That’s the secret to staying with your plan and managing your inventory for the greatest financial gain.
Good inventory management is done mostly by using past statistical information. Your past statistics will help you predict future sales, markdowns, and stock levels. You may think looking at your reports from your POS software is enough, but good analysis also includes using your gut instincts. Your past sales history is a way to verify your current plan, but does not take into account new trends or bad purchasing from the past. If you had large sales of an item in the past, but that item was unavailable in certain colors, how would you know if those colors would have sold well?
That is where your instinct comes into play and you order according to what you think would have sold had you had data available. A sales velocity report would also have helped identify those fast selling items that you had a shortage of. Use your history and open to buy plan, but back it up with your personal instincts in the retail business.
All small retailers and POS software providers are paying the price for Visa and MasterCards defective system. I have added the following blog:
By Dave Hogan | Published: August 20, 2009:
This entry was posted in Loss Prevention, Technology
This week, a federal indictment was handed down to Albert Gonzalez, the professional hacker alleged of stealing credit card data from a wide range of companies such as Heartland Payment Systems, TJX, BJ’s Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21, DSW, Hannaford Bros., and 7-Eleven. Keep in mind, these are just the companies we know of¦ I would not be surprised that when it is all said and done, we will probably learn that upwards of 300 million cards (that’s right 300,000,000) were compromised.
Is it not insane to continue to do the same thing over and over again with the same results? The major card brands and banks need to radically change their thinking. They need to accept the fact that they created the current general purpose payment system that consumers and merchants use today¦ it is their system. We are not just users of their system, but actually their customers.
The major card brands, specifically Visa and MasterCard, need to recognize this. They have a defective system that must be improved. Instead of forcing your favorite local florists, doctor’s offices, or department stores to secure the card company’s data, the credit card companies should be stepping up and doing it. Actually, they should be paying for the merchants to encrypt or tokenize their data.
In summary, credit card companies need to be less concerned with their bottom line and more concerned with protecting their customers. Otherwise there will be more Albert Gonzalez and major breaches of credit card information will continue to occurâ€¦and history will repeat itself once again.
Layaway programs are making a big comeback. Customers are struggling with lack of credit card lines and too much debt overall. In the past, every time you turned around, a bank was sending you a credit card offer and who needed layaway when you had ten different cards to choose from. Layaway was thought to be a thing of the past until the soft economy forced retailers to look at different ways to keep customers coming in and buying. Layaway gives customers a chance to purchase an item that they possible could not otherwise pay for at that moment or afford. It is a win, win situation if they can shop and pay for the items they need over time.
You the retailer are retaining the item and receiving deferred income until the merchandise is paid for. For this process to work well, you need POS software that will accurately account for all payment activity and even send out paper or email statements. If it is a cumbersome process, the benefits of offering layaway is negated by the poor accountability of your current POS software or obsolete paper trail you are using. It seems that all that goes around will come around again. Bring on that layaway business.
An entrepreneurs distinguishing quality may not be the willingness to take risks, but his ability to put the past behind and seize new opportunities in the future. You have probably had your head caved in over the last year with this horrible economy, but that entrepreneurial spirit is still shining and if your business is still holding up, you are probably doing things right. I believe now is the time to start the push for better retail performance through improved inventory selection, retail management software and a new optimistic outlook.
It’s the same old story; it has to get better because it can’t get any worse. While all your competitors are hunkered down in their bunkers, you do the unexpected, and come out firing. If you need help in your POS Software selection, call and we can make it affordable and give you the big gun you need.
I am still researching POS software. Do you have a rep in the area as one of my concerns is service. Honestly I am fed up with talking to someone from India who doesn’t speak or understand English. I am looking for a system that is dependable, can grow with us as we grow, customer service that can be relied on, ability to inventory in the thousands of products and will not crash.
Bill, There is a reason I put my mug shot and direct number on all the correspondence I send out and that is to make sure all your needs are taken care of. Being able to contact the POS software developer directly means faster, more efficient and more reliable service when you need it most. Our support staff can be called immediately when an issue arises and you need to have an answer now. Nothing can be more frustrating than needing to know how to perform a certain task and not getting a knowledgeable answer. If you don’t get your support from the people that develop and work with the software every day, are you really getting the reliable answers you need?
Will your POS software grow with you? The decision you make today will have huge consequences down the road. Whatever you ask your software to do, it should support your growing business needs, rather than add to your workload. As your customer base increases, the last worry you want is whether or not your retail software can keep up with your ever increasing business demands. Good support should be the first thing you ask about when considering a new software company. This is why we sell direct and support direct.
If you are selling T shirts at Times Square and a quarter million new faces go by, any POS Software will do. Ring up cash customer, sell, close drawer and when the T shirt stack gets down to two feet tall, re-order. Any old horizontal product can do this. That’s the difference in products that are glorified cash registers and products that allow you to market to your best customers, replenish with the right assortment of product at the right time and give you an up to date review of your financial situation.
Many times I am asked why we are any better or different than other software companies and I always try to take the high road, even though that usually doesn’t work in reverse. If you talk poorly about other companies, you usually don’t have enough good things to say about your own product. You have to make your decision on the comfort level you have with the companys sales and support, functionality requirements and price. Nobody has been doing Windows POS software longer that we have, won more national awards and will work any harder to make you happy.
Four-in-five workers looking to small businesses for Jobs: I found this article interesting because small business already provides most of the jobs in the U.S. and gets the least amount of help in surviving this economy.
17 August, 2009–By Mark Cox
As workers navigate through one of the toughest economies and job markets in the nation’s history, they are turning to small businesses in greater numbers, according to data from a new CareerBuilder survey. One-in-five workers (22 percent) who were laid off from full-time jobs in the last 12 months and landed new positions found those opportunities with small businesses. Another 59 percent said they are interested in working for a small business, while others are considering starting a small business of their own.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses employ half of all workers in the private sector and furnish half of the private gross domestic product. They also account for most of the nation’s new job creation.
“Small businesses will play a critical role in the rebuilding of the U.S. job market,” said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America. “As drivers of innovation, small businesses will help to re-energize the economy and support recovery efforts. In turn, workers will find that working for a small business can provide a wealth of experience in a variety of roles, a competitive compensation structure, a flexible work environment and more.”