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• Best Practices
What is merchandising?
Increase Sales Through Base Networking

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Best Practices

This area of the site is meant to offer up the best strategies, techniques and ideas that have been successfully implemented in BSCs, as well as other businesses across the country, so that you might “borrow” these ideas to help increase your store’s performance.

If there is a technique that you have utilized and believe would be helpful for other store managers to know about, please submit it to info@BSCSales.com. If you have encountered a problem or a weakness that no one has shared a solution to, there are ways to develop best practices.

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BSC Best Business Practices

If you were to honestly evaluate on its strengths and weaknesses, you are likely to realize that there are several areas that are very strong, perhaps merchandising and inventory control. However, you are also likely to realize that there are certain aspects of your business that you are not as strong in and would like to improve upon, maybe customer service and adaptability.

Steps for Best Practices

  1. Identify one business process or service to improve, such as inventory management
  2. Look for one metric to measure, you want to ensure you are accurately receiving shipments andinputting the delivered goods into your inventory system.
  3. Find competitors and companies within your industry and outside your industry: Other BSCs, distribution centers, etc
  4. Collect information on the successful, best practices of other companies such as b rochures, books, articles, interview vendors
  5. Modify the best practice for your situation, your warehouse space and computer systems may not allow you to adopt a method in exactly the same manner as a distribution center; however you can use their guideline and adapt them to meet the needs of your store.
  6. Implement the process then measure the results; do your employees have better access to inventory? Are you reducing the number of time you are faced with an “out-of-stock” problem?

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Creating Successful Promotions

Though basic merchandising throughout your store is essential to increasing the profitability of your store as a whole, in order to increase the numbers on a particular item, look to promotions. Promotions may take many forms and be used for a wide variety of reasons.

Introducing a new product

Imagine you have had repeated requests from several customers to introduce an item to your store, such as a data CD. You finally bring that item into your inventory, stock it prominently in the center of an aisle only to find the item doesn’t sell. Why not? Because you never introduced this item.

Imagine instead if you had set up a temporary display at the front of the store with signage announcing this product as new and you had trained your employees to ask customers if they were aware you now carried this CD and did they need a pack today? Chances are your sales would be much better if you called attention to this product, rather than just inserting it into your inventory.

Slow Moving Inventory& Seasonal Promotions

Every store manager has encountered problems with dead stock that just doesn’t seem to move. A well placed promotion can help either dispose of a discontinued item or help increase the sales of a historically slow-moving product.

In cases of discontinued items, few managers want to decrease their margins, or even lose money on a product. However, it’s often better to simply get the inventory out of your store than to let it continue to take up valuable shelf and stock space for months or years. Designate an area of your store to be a Clearance Area, and price the item to sell and call attention to the sale. This may mean with signs in the store, or if you have a large amount of inventory to move, you may need to do some marketing throughout the base to bring people into the store for this specially-priced item.

If you would like to increase the sales of slow moving items that you are planning to keep in inventory, setting up a promotional display may provide the help you’re looking for. End caps, especially the ones facing the store front, are a good choice to separate and call attention to a product. Perhaps you will choose to create signage that lists a couple of key selling points of the product, you will also ensure that every employee in your store is trained about this item and is able to tell customers of its benefits.

Do keep in mind when you are picking your items to promote that they are applicable for that time period. For instance you could create a display of thermal sleeping bags; you might have the most beautiful, well-stocked display with signage and your employees ready to speak about five benefits of the sleeping bag. However, if it’s July and you’re selling a sleeping bag meant for 30 degree weather, you are unlikely to have a successful promotion. Yet if you decided to promote a product such as Lysol sanitizer in November and create signs about how Lysol products will help your team stay healthy during cold and flu season, you are more likely to have a successful promotion.

Cross Promoting Merchandise

Though you have merchandised your store by grouping products together for efficient shopping, it’s not always possible to put all your complimentary products together, but you can remind customers of a complimentary item. Take for instance paper and pens, you generally have too great of a supply of each to put them all together. However, if you were to place a bin filled with pens next to your stock of writing pads you would be reminding customers that they needed pens, and they are likely to either pick up a box in the bin, or walk over to the pen section to find the style of their choice. Either way you have created a need in your customer and have increased your sale.

Cross promoting is also useful for items such as shredders. You have created a promotion with a special price and a well-designed display. If on the sides of the shelves you offered shredder lubricant and shredder bags, you are again increasing your overall sale.

Keys to a successful promotion

  • Call attention to your item through displays and signage
  • Ensure your display remains neat and well stocked. The last thing you want to do is feature a product as “Item of the Month” and be out of stock by the 10th
  • Educate your employees of the benefits of this product and to ask customers if they were aware of the product
  • Keep in mind seasonal needs when planning your promotions
  • Utilize the base communication network to bring customers into your store for that promotion

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Inventory Management

Almost every store manager we’ve spoken to has said they are looking for ways to improve their inventory management methods. Not only is it frustrating and expensive to make “emergency” orders with rush deliveries, out of stock problems can affect sales:

  • 97% of out-of-stocks are due to problems at the store. (limited space, unorganized warehouse, poor purchasing)
  • 50% of consumers would switch stores if 3 to 4 items they intended to purchase were routinely out-of-stock
  • 40% of shoppers report that they postpone purchase or go elsewhere when encountering an out-of-stock situation

To avoid these issues you the following tips to improve your inventory management:

Cycle Counting

Counting inventories on a regular basis throughout the year (cycle counting) combined with a process for continuous improvement in inventory accuracy is the best methodology for achieving consistently accurate inventories.

Negative Inventory

When your computer system identifies a negative inventory balance, this is certainly an indicator of some type of problem. Many managers assume that the problem is with the computer system and manually adjust the computer’s inventory count to correct the problem without investigating further. Though it does happen that the computer gives an incorrect balance, it should not be assumed that this is the sole cause of the problem. When you do identify a negative inventory, you should take the time to determine why it occurred. Was a shipment of merchandise entered incorrectly? Was a sales order entered at a higher number than intended, which not only skews your inventory, but also over charges the customer and distorts your sales figures. By determining the source of the problem, you are able to properly correct it and prevent a reoccurrence.

Reporting

Generating reports, such as sales history, plays a vital part in inventory management. Sales history can help identify slower moving items which can take up valuable shelf space for new items that are out in the market. Using these reports to develop a forecasting system will help eliminate potential out of stock and overstock situations.

 

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