The buying process

The buying process

One question my customers ask me is how I know what to buy for my store? Well, this is a very complicated question and takes experience and knowledge on what sells and what the current trends are.

As a boutique owner, I am lucky that the fashion wholesalers that I buy from all release new on-trend styles every week. This way I can purchase as needed and can make quick buying decisions based on what is popular and trending at that time.

For my homewares purchases, I have catalogues for each season’s products and have the ability to purchase all year round with items being available and shipped within a few days.

Below are the steps I take in the buying process every week for each area of my business.

Fashion
By mid-morning every Monday, my wholesalers have released their available ranges for the week. I look at my stock levels to determine how many pieces I need. I base this on whether or not I have any empty or bare racks. This isn’t an exact science but it seems to work for me.

I look at the styles to determine which ones are likely to sell quickly. I have some styles that are snapped up by our customers quickly and others that are much harder to move.

It takes learning what my local customers want and over time I have learnt to make better buying decisions. I also need to think about what visitors to my small town want to buy as well.

I then place and pay for any orders. The stock then arrives between 1 to 2 working days and my staff steam and place it out on the floor immediately.

My merchandiser also works her magic to make sure everything is placed well as this is an essential part of selling and having a successful business.

I then load all the styles into our Point of Sale system which is VEND. I capture all the data about each piece and enter the following details:

  • Name
  • Brand
  • SKU Number
  • Cost Price
  • Retail Price
  • Sizes and how many in each size
  • Photos

All these details help you make future buying decisions as you are able to track every purchase, how much you made, what your best selling styles are and brand.

For my boutique the number one style is dresses and our top brand is Jaase.

Homewares
On Wednesdays, I always focus on my homewares section. I check on stock levels and consult with staff about what is selling and any feedback they have so that I can make better purchasing decisions.

If I decide to put in an order I will look at my suppliers’ catalogues online and purchase items within a budget. I always like to purchase my homewares for each quarter based on a particular trend or range. I will buy cushions, rugs, throws and other home decor products that fit in a certain theme that I can use within the store.

I like to change up the homeware options whenever I can but this is not the major part of my business. People do however love to buy lots of trinkets, coasters, soaps, candles and diffusers so I always have plenty of these in store.

Body and Soul
I stick with vegan products and have sourced some fantastic brands. I like to support local Australian businesses that are doing great things. I exclusively stock Fiesty Ferdy an Australian skincare brand and em & mary another skincare brand.

I stock Tilley soaps branded candles, soaps and diffusers continuously for those that want to buy a quick gift but also have our own branded travel tin candle range which is unique to our store.

When it comes to buying these products I tend to purchase more during times when people are looking for gifts. The biggest times of the year for these products are at Christmas time and for Mothers Day.

So there is a rundown of my buying process. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments below.

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