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Sally Furrer: Create Your Jewelry Store Open-to-Buy Plan Based On Reality

Building an open-to-buy is not difficult, but it is time-consuming.




BY NOW THE DUST has settled from the all-important last quarter of 2011. You’ve run numerous reports and analyzed the data. I hope this answered your key questions. Did total sales increase over 2010? If so, in which departments? Which months generated the increases — was there any momentum or other trend? What were the top sellers in each department? How much aged or dead stock do I still have?

Now that you’ve achieved a good understanding of your sales trends and on-hands, it is time to consider your next investment in inventory.

Creating an open-to-buy is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. It is also essential. A monthly open-to-buy acts as the foundation for disciplined purchasing. No one likes a negative open-to-buy number!

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create one:

Step 1

One of the most important parts of an open-to-buy is the projected sales for the month by department. Remove all repair and services revenue from the equation. Also remove hold-buying revenue.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What did I achieve in sales, average sale, units sold and gross margin in 2011?
  • Calculate what you WANT to achieve (either increase or decrease) for each of these metrics based on your knowledge of your business.

Step 2

With your total sales objectives for 2012, you can populate a sales plan (see my column on how to create a sales plan “Merchandising from a Clean Slate — Part Two”) or construct a simple Excel spreadsheet and break it down by month based on the percentage sold last year.

Creating an open-to-buy is not difficult, but it is time consuming. It is also essential.

Step 3

Convert your monthly sales objective into cost using your gross margin objective.

Step 4

Allocate the sales at cost to each of your departments (or collections/programs if that is how you analyze your inventory), again based on the sales distribution of last year. This is your opportunity to “massage” the numbers. For instance, do you want to grow a department? Do you need to pull down a loose diamond department because of special-order diamonds?


The second number to input into your spreadsheet is your inventory on hand at cost at the end of the prior month. Whether you include consignment and memo is your call, but I recommend doing so. Your consignments should be working for you, not just taking up space.

Step 6

Run an on order report at cost by department and add to your on hand number — this is your total stock.


Step 7

The difference between your projected cost of sales and your total stock is your preliminary open-to-buy.

Step 8

There are additional deductions from your preliminary open-to-buy numbers:

  • Projected special orders
  • Projected sales of consignment and memo
  • Projected trade-ins
  • Projected estate pieces from gold buying
  • Projected allocation of funds to never-outs, fast sellers, or advertised product
  • Here are some additions to your preliminary open-to-buy numbers:
  • Pending return to vendors
  • Pending scrapping of stock
  • There are other miscellaneous inventory adjustments that can go either way, and if significant, they should be taken into account.

Sally Furrer is the owner of Sally Furrer Consulting.



Wilkerson Testimonials | Zadok Master Jewelers

Stick to the Program — And Watch Your Sales Grow

When Zadok Master Jewelers in Houston, Texas, decided to move to a new location (they’d been in the same one for the 45 years they’d been in business), they called Wilkerson to run a moving sale. The results, says seventh-generation jeweler Jonathan Zadok, were “off the charts” in terms of traffic and sales. Why? They took Wilkerson’s advice and stuck to the company’s marketing program, which included sign twirlers — something Jonathan Zadok had never used before. He says a number of very wealthy customers came in because of them. “They said, ‘I loved your sign twirlers and here’s my credit card for $20,000.’ There’s no way we could have done that on our own,” says Zadok. “Without Wilkerson, the sale never, ever would have come close to what it did.”

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