Sunday, November 29, 2009

Buy to a Strategy

The Merchandise Buy Plan Guide explains the homework and process involved in determining the proper levels and turns of inventory, categories and vendors. It is written generically enough to apply to any pro shop or retail situation. It does not discuss the need to be strategic with the choice of product and vendor as this is obviously different per shop.

The blueprint for your shop’s buy for the coming season may be the most important you have ever made as two things are true.

1. The experts aren’t expecting the current financial crunch to potentially start to heal itself until mid year 2010 at best.
2. Retail has changed dramatically over the past year and while it will recover with the economy the consumer’s enhanced quest for value will be long-lasting.

Retailers who aren’t aggressively going after the business are perceived as not interested enough to be competitive and are not being taken seriously.

I have had this conversation about consumer expectations with many of the major golf-vendor captains and the underlying suggestion is that pro shops need to be diligently ready to take markdowns that will turn inventory as that is the state of the industry. This is true to some extent but to my way of thinking should never be the overriding marketing principle especially since none of the captains mentioned above explained where the lost margin was going to come from. Said another way, old merchandise obviously needs to be reduced and removed but the buy plan should be built around a schedule designed to inspire the consumer not with markdowns but with promotions that are fun, easy to sign and talk up and where the lost margin is minimal and part of the plan. When you limit the vision in your grand design to the sale rack you teach your customer to wait until the merchandise is old before buying. This is not stratagem but defeatist merchandising that creates a downward spiral that is tough to reverse.

The schedule of promotions should be manicured to your customer climate and particular shop layout. Some of the important considerations are:

· What product will be inspirational?
· What vendors will work best with us?
· What category needs help?
· What will look best front & center and be the most customer friendly?

After these concerns are well thought through, the schedule could look something like the following which you will note never mentions percentages off and could become an occurrence that regular customers look forward to:

March, April – Buy a shirt and receive a free hat or perhaps a sleeve of balls

May, June – Buy two shirts and pick out a free pair of shorts

July, August – Any $100 purchase and pick a shirt off the sale rack for free

Sept, October – Any purchase of outerwear and take a pair of winter glove

November, December – Any $100 purchase receives free gift wrapping and a $20 gift certificate for that “other gift”.

Let’s look a little deeper at this schedule.

March, April - Caps can generally be bought for $5-$6 - less than 10% of an $80 shirt. Off-shore deals on caps require larger minimums but a lot of the initial commitment will go away as the result of a successful promotion. There is certainly never any lack of golf balls on special. Shirt vendors may take interest in your effort and help with marked-downs or early in-season off price. Perhaps you introduce Private Label shirts from Pima-Direct where the extra margin needed is built in to the suggested retail price.

May, June – Memorial Day, Father’s Day, etc. – shorts to golf-in season.
Many companies come to mind here, but Greg Norman, for example, has a program that reduces certain in-line shirts by 30% and allows you to buy $24 shorts for $17. Losing $8.50 per 30% off shirts by giving away a pair of these shorts yields 43% margin and is perfect for that center table and inspiring even to the consumer who typically buys his shorts at outlets. Nothing motivates like free. The important thing is that the price of the new spring shirt has not been compromised. The sale rack is in the back room only to be brought out strategically and the consumer is confronted with a proposal that is intriguing at worst.

July, August – Any residual shirts from the spring buy become the sale rack. New shirts for summer renewal should always be bought off-price anyway. Proper vendor relationships help this effort dramatically and will be the subject of a separate entry.

September, October - Think about giving winter gloves as a tournament favor and keeping the balance of that buy as a shop promotion while receiving a tournament discount.

November, December – Holiday business is a great time of year to be creative but many pro shops don’t want to buy special goods this time of year as much as they want to reduce existing inventory. There is no better way to do this than to use gift certificates to your advantage.

Your promotional strategy after thoughtful consideration of your particular shop may be quite different from that described above but the thought process will be the same. This type of promotional schedule combined with a merchandise buy plan based on sound retail principles of space and turn should be adhered to and become the focus of the shop. Participating vendors need to assist with discounts, point-of-sale material and education of your staff to maximize their ability to discuss the promoted products and advance promotions in general.

The next blog entry will discuss the past year in review but probably the most glaring aspect of this season's business was that shops that promoted maintained their volume and in some cases were able to wow their customer. The shops that didn’t have the vision to be aggressive with the times went backwards and those using markdowns as their only form of vigorous marketing lost considerable margin that will now be hard to recover.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Guilt Gift

Most Pro Shop owners and managers agree that there is a legitimate category of business that has to do with the male golfer taking home a gift to his significant other after a day on the links. Acknowledging that this business exists or has the potential to exist is easy – finding the right product to go after it with is another story. I am convinced that apparel is not the answer and that it is not typically a logo driven sale. The wife or girlfriend that would be appreciative of a souvenir logo would most likely be playing there herself and buy her own shirt or sweater.

The search for the four ‘P’s to fill this void has taken me to the principals at Boca Tennis and Golf Bags. Dahlia Manaker and Chrissy Nield have impressive resumes in the industry and Chrissy’s husband Scottie is a PGA Professional who owns the shop at Inverness Golf Club in Illinois. They both immediately understood what I had in mind to suggest with this blog entry and were delightful to deal with in putting it together.

The Product is obviously hand bags, though they have jewelry and headwear, etc. that they present in collections that makes purchasing and merchandising incredibly easy.

The Pricing is moderate – perfect for today’s market and the potential customer that we have been describing with the ‘guilt gift’ theme.

The Partners are genuinely interested in helping you develop this segment of your business.

The Program that Dahlia and Chrissy put together is described by them as follows:

Perfect ……
For that Special Someone at Home!!!!

Are you capitalizing on your women’s market? Give your customer the opportunity to go home with a statement that simply says, “I am thinking about you even when I am on the golf course!”

Boca Golf and Boca Tennis has made it easy for you. We have designed a small and inexpensive package that offers your customer an alternative when selecting a gift for that special someone. When we say perfect, it really is.

It’s easy to get started. For a small initial investment (only a few hundred dollars) you can purchase a collection similar to the photo above. With immediate success you will be ready for our replenishment program. Simply communicate with us as to what is selling and we will be responsive to your needs.

Boca Golf and Boca Tennis is currently supplying a customer base of approximately 1500 accounts. Our Golf and Tennis retail shops have enormous sell through success with our products. In addition, we have the capability to supply you with tournament requirements, tee-gifts and prizes.

Boca Golf and Boca Tennis is excited to introduce this new program, enhancing yet another part of your business. We customize each account creating the ideal mix and flow of handbags and accessories to augment your shop’s needs.

Boca Golf and Boca Tennis will provide you with a framed sign for you to attract this customer. Allow us to help create another opportunity that will encourage every customer to purchase something from your shop.

Top 10 reasons why you need to partner with Boca Golf and Boca Tennis

· We have no minimums.
· We have products that are fashion responsive.
· We can replenish your inventory to increase your profitability…so you won’t miss a sale.
· Our turn around time is fast. Really fast!
· We can customize our product range for your specific needs.
· Our broad range of pricing allows major margins.
· Creative product merchandising.
· Innovative marketing programs.
· All Boca Golf and Boca Tennis manufactured products are made in the USA.
· Perfect products for that Special Someone.

Please feel free to call Dahlia Manaker owner of Boca Golf and Boca Tennis at 1-888-409-4551 or email to get started today

Please mention this Blog when doing so.

There is a link to the Boca website to the right under 'Sites to Visit'. The program that Dahlia and Chrissy have suggested and the merchandising of same provide an easy, tasteful way to go after that somewhat elusive category of ‘guilt gift'.

The Merchandise Buy Plan Guide has been well received and is still available. The link to purchase it through PayPal is the Buy Now button to the right.