Assortment planning is one of the most fun, most exciting and most important parts of running a retail store. It’s critical to your retail success.
Your choice of which items to carry in your store – and just as importantly, which not to carry – is what makes your store different from every other store on the block.
Your merchandise assortment defines your store.
If you carry bikes, then you’re a bike store – not an auto parts store. But it’s the exact assortment of bikes, accessories and services that makes your bike store different from all the rest.
Or if you offer shoes for sales, you’re a shoe store – not a gift shop. And the exact assortment of shoes, accessories and services you offer makes your shoe store different from every other shoe store.
It sounds so basic but the implications are huge.
If you do not have a strategically planned assortment, but rather pick your merchandise on a whim and a wish, the success of your store will reflect that basic lack of focus.
Unless you have a great merchandise assortment, your customers won’t have any reason to visit your store or leave some of their money with you. The more on-target your assortment is, the more likely customers will come to your store and the more likely they will buy from you while they’re there.
Getting your assortment right is not only a sales issue, but a basic customer service issue. The more often you have what your customer is looking for, the better service you are providing, and the more likely they will remember you and return the next time they’re shopping.
Planning your best assortment is a constantly evolving process. It’s always a work in progress. Your top sellers from last season may not be your big sellers this time around. The best solution is to stay on top of what customers want now. Read trade journals and magazines. Look around. Merchandise selection is as much ( or maybe more) of an art than a science. You may not hit the mark every time, but looking, listening and thinking things through will get you closer to your merchandising target.