The success of your retail store depends on the quality of your inventory selection. Choosing products that appeal to your target consumer demographic is a key component of any successful merchant. All too often, however, retailers hesitate to branch out into new inventory categories out of fear of failure. Yet consistently re-evaluating your inventory assortment is among the most important way to stay relevant in today’s highly competitive retail environment. This process is even more effective when you invite customers to be part of the conversation.
Determining what inventory to carry in your store can be complex yet exciting. New products are an essential strategy to give your customers a shopping experience they’ll remember… as well as want to return to. Keeping this in mind, let’s explore how you can choose and market new inventory categories for your target customers.
Choosing New Products
While data can help determine what inventory items to re-order and which product categories sell best for your store, it’s also nice to take a holistic approach to evaluating new inventory categories for your business. In fact, the Harvard Business Review reports, “plenty of software tools claim to support assortment planning by helping retailers decide which combination of products will maximize sales. But with very few exceptions, they lack the ability to forecast demand for new products or to estimate how much demand would transfer to other products if a slow seller were dropped.” Because of this, exploring products at tradeshows is among the best way to keep your store relevant in today’s busy consumer marketplace. Very simply, firsthand experiences that allow you to experience new inventory can help you identify what is best for your target consumer audience.
Starting a Conversation
While technology will undoubtedly be an asset to retailers as time moves forward, there are advantages to going back-to-the-basics when it comes to selecting inventory for your store. To help do this, make ongoing conversations with your customers a priority to help identify what products are best for your unique retail biz. One-on-one interactions between your sales staff and customers will always add value to your analysis of what inventory you should sell in your store, as well as utilizing technology to gather customer feedback can benefit your store, as well. Among the ways to do this include:
· Sending customer surveys via email blasts
· Texting customers a link to follow-up on each purchase
· Using the most common search terms from your website to evaluate potential inventory
· Engaging in Instagram polls, Twitter chats and Facebook discussions
· Doing competitor research… and more!
Remember, inviting your customers to take part in conversations about your store and the inventory you sell generates loyalty by making your customers feel personally invested in the success of your business.
Displaying Your Products
One of the most important things to keep in mind when testing out a new inventory category is that your product displays are a big factor in whether or not your investment in new inventory is successful. In theory your inventory should be dynamic and eye-catching enough to stand alone – but let’s face it, that is not always reality. Even the most exciting products can easily get buried within a store environment if not given the proper display attention. Consider cross-merchandising new inventory in an effort to showcase these items in more than one store location, as well as incorporate routine merchandising updates to make sure your inventory never becomes stale within your store environment. These efforts can also bring clarity to how quickly – or slowly – inventory moves based on store location.
Committing to the Category
Once you’ve done the necessary research and talked to your customers about what they want to see in your store, fully commit to displaying and marketing your newest inventory category. This means creating eye-catching displays, sharing photos of your products on social media, emailing your customers an announcement and sharing any information you have about how the products were sourced. To gain more inspiration, attend NY NOW where you can discover delightfully unexpected quality products with fantastic backstories to help facilitate your retail revamp.