Deciding what to sell is one of the biggest ongoing decisions retailers have to make. You want to sell items that are both in high demand and profitable. Here are several things to consider to help during the assortment planning process. In no time you’ll be finding the right products for your customer base.
The first step in the assortment planning process is, fortunately, fairly easy as it involves data and numbers. Take a look at your inventory and sales over the past year. Which products are your top sellers? Which items did not move off the shelves? Use this information to guide you as you plan. For example, if yarn and textiles are selling briskly, consider expanding those lines in your store. For online sales, hire someone to do keyword research to see which products you rank for. These are items you want to keep in stock.
If you have a strong social media presence, ask your social media followers which items they would like to see in stock. Your customers are typically very happy to share what they would like to see in the store, as well as offer critiques of what is missing. Be sure to check out competitor’s social media profiles to see what their customers are saying. Dissatisfied patrons can be very vocal, and you can learn from them. Recently I have seen a surge of complaints on a business page from card makers and scrapbookers lamenting the diminishing papercraft section in a store. A local business could fill this gap by supplying the papercrafting items that are no longer found in other stores.
Keep an eye on trend forecasts as well as “what’s hot now” lists to make sure the “it” item is on your shelves. I shared several ways to keep up with what is popular right now in my article about trendspotting. Creativation, the craft industry’s annual trade show, is one way to get a peek at new products coming out. Pinterest, Etsy, and Google all offer trend reports that will keep you informed and aware of what consumers are buying right now. The key with trends is that you want to stay ahead of them. Be the first to sell whatever the public is looking for instead of stocking up after the market is saturated with that item.
Choose a product or an item that you are passionate about or that is hard to find and become the source for it. For example, if soap making supplies are not available anywhere else, fill that void. Become the place that everyone names when someone asks “where can I find this item?” One way to do this is to offer a private label. Partner with a locally sourced maker or a small manufacturer and offer a product or line that is only available in your store. As always, do your research to ensure that your specialty products are ones that are in demand and will sell year round.
No matter how popular an item is, the profit margin has to be sufficient to maintain the cost of doing business. You should already have a good idea of what your budget and business costs are. Use this information to help determine whether the profits from the sale of the item will be enough to maintain your business expenses. You can use several online calculators to quickly check profit margins as needed.
Find the Right Suppliers
There are multiple things to consider when choosing a supplier for your business, including quality of products, shipping time, and cost. When it comes to choosing the right product assortment for your customer base, a great supplier will help you identify trends and make it easy for you to find exactly what items you need. Darice offers a wide variety of topic-specific catalogs and trend guides to guide wholesale customers as they make their business shopping selections. As an example, the 2019 Wedding Trend Guidebook covers what brides and grooms are looking for. This information will help you make informed decisions about what to stock to meet the current demand.
Know Your Competition
Competing with other businesses can be both inspiring and exhausting. Learn from your competitor’s successes and mistakes to guide your decision making. If a certain product is flying off the shelves, check your competitor’s prices before your stock up. Make sure that your product is of equal or better quality and competitively priced. As I mentioned earlier about research, if there is a product your competitor is lacking, step in and fill that void.
As you inventory and review your monthly business statements, check to see what is working for you and what is not working. Re-evaluate your products to determine what you should re-order and what should be discontinued. As trends and the seasons change, so will your product assortment.
To see Darice’s top-selling products in person, please join us at a tradeshow. Darice aims to bring a little piece of our showrooms to our customers all over the globe. See this schedule to learn where to find Darice in 2019.
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Morena from MorenasCorner.com is the kind of girl who would rather have paint on her fingers than get a manicure. Morena’s passion is using thrifted and inexpensive finds to craft designer inspired creations, and she enjoys creating colorful, bold pieces of home decor. The Italian-American daughter of two DIYers, she and her husband strive to pass the tradition and value of handmade to their four children.