Over the last couple of months, I’ve been talking about the need for each side of the supplier/dealer equation to devote more energy and attention to our respective customers. Now that the Christmas season is in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look at the way we should move on the road ahead.
Surviving retailers with any luck at all have shed dead inventory. In theory, we’ve been able to figure out what sells in our market and budget our precious inventory dollars accordingly. A word: What SELLS is the touchstone. It isn’t the superb guitar that your gearhead Manager wants. It isn’t the $1,000 violin that your teacher wants her student to have, despite the parent’s $400 budget. It isn’t the brand that will be highly profitable if we could only convince someone to buy it.
never have the
to present a
of all the
has to offer.
No, what sells in each of our markets is a smorgasbord of products made attractive to consumers by a combination of manufacturer marketing, teacher recommendations, our own merchandising and sales presentation, and peer influence. It isn’t necessarily about quality (a look at the history of successful audio and video storage solutions illustrates that convenience, price and content can trounce quality in a heartbeat). It isn’t any one factor, and the next town on the map can distill a different blend of products.
For that reason, I believe we can influence our market best by becoming a curator. We need to stock our stores with a select blend of products we believe our community wants. Of course, we all think we’re doing that already. But how many of us could explain why we carry each specific brand, model and SKU on every peg—if you remove the variables of margin and saving freight? (Because those factors, although important to our bottom line, don’t mean squat to our customers.)
You may wax enthusiastic about the prestigious lines of guitars or professional horns you offer, but, once you get past the big-ticket items, what determines shelf allocation? Why do you carry this brand and gauge of guitar strings…this line of gig bags…this cymbal polish?
If the main answer has more to do with meet- (continue reading)