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We recently sat down with Ivystone and 2021 REA Sales Rep of the Year Finalist, Evelyn Julian to see what advice she had for retailers.
Q: How can retailers use their sales reps to fill any gaps caused by missed markets?
The Pandemic has forced many of us to do things differently, and for some, that meant staying on the "home front" instead of attending markets. Retailers can make sure they are ready and prepared for the last four months of 2021 by having conversations with their sales rep(s) and discussing what is missing from their inventory. Review your history from the 4th quarter last year to know what sold really well, what didn’t, and if you had product or category holes you need to fill. Typically, consumable goods are a great avenue to invest in, consumable goods keep customers coming back to your store to purchase again and again. Repeat customers often tend to spend more on each purchase than first time buyers. This means your repeat customers are buying more from your store and more often!
With current shipping challenges, retailers need to think long term, to not only be prepared for the holiday season, but also the start of 2022. If you have the space for inventory, order early, so that you can merchandise fresh product in January.
Q: How can sales reps help with planning inventory?
As a sales representative, we try to have up to date information on hot products, stock levels, and ship times. Select vendors provide sales reps order histories, sometimes by category if not more specific. Knowing what type of product you are looking for allows your rep to see what is available to ship now. Your sales rep is also in-tune with trends and transitional products. Use your sales rep as a resource to cross merchandise everyday items into your holiday themes or vise versa.
Q: What advice would you give retailers placing orders?
I would advise retailers to place an immediate order, a reorder for two months out, and another order for just before or after the holidays. That last order will be critical with the shipping/container and port issues that vendors are experiencing. It's better to be over prepared than caught with empty shelves. If it looks like that third shipment will come too soon, often times your sales rep can work with vendors on your behalf to try to push back delivery.
Let's also remember how many retailers told us in January how successful they were in the 2020 Holiday Season! This success occurred while many of us were on "restriction," and not able to gather with friends and family over the Holidays. This year, customers hope to have the ability to see the ones they love, which means that many will be wanting to buy gifts and go all out! Be confident and prepared for the holiday rush!
Q: In what ways can retailers better use their sales rep that they may not know about?
Sales reps are here to help and consult our retailers. We know that retailers are not all the same, but we’ve traveled the miles and walked the show floors. We can share with you what other stores in other areas are doing to make themselves stand out. We are able to let you know what is backordered, offer suggestions on replacement or fill in items, or even help you merchandise. Your sales reps are able to talk to vendors on your behalf to see about special incentives, terms, etc. Are you doing a special event in the fourth quarter? Maybe we can convince a brand to provide giveaways. Ask us! We’re here to help you succeed!
Our Reps love working with retailers, here’s why…
Your success is what drives Ivystone to form a true partnership that instills the utmost trust in us for years to come.