TOO MANY CHOICES continue to overwhelm potential customers, often to the point of paralysis.
This goes against what many retailers often think of as a great strategy, which is marketing the largest selection in town. But while we want our customers to have choices, our bridal selection should be a well-curated one that offers clarity to your customer.
If your bridal department is underperforming, over-inventoried and experiencing diminished return-on-investment, start with these initiatives.
Set your minimum stock-turn and return on investment targets. Your inventory (whether asset or memo) should perform for you.
Review your data. You should never be without your fast sellers (items that sell within 180 days) in loose, semi-mounts or bands. Please note that any bridal that generates a one-time stock turn at a full margin within 365 days should be replaced. While an argument could be made about the difficulty of sourcing your sweet spot diamonds, there is no argument to suggest that you should ever be tying up your dollars in the wrong (non-performing) inventory.
Pay attention to live samples as well as faux models. Many retailers incorrectly assume that most of their bridal pieces generate orders. But the data frequently shows that this simply isn’t the case. Focus on those that generate special orders, which is generally less than 20 percent of your bridal collection.
Implement ongoing strategies to aggressively purge non-performers. This should include stock balancing with your top vendors. Stock balancing should generally be tied to fast-seller replenishment practices, paying your bills on time, training your staff, appropriate merchandising and marketing the brand or category.
Utilize markdowns, employee spiffs, and recycling non-performers into more basic (saleable) styles. Markdowns should take place starting with the one-year anniversary of receipt of a given item and continue every 30-60 days until the piece is gone.
Re-merchandise. Clean up your jammed cases. Move your non-performers into an organized back-stock. This will allow you to display your best performers and to highlight your key pieces and collections more strategically.
Putting your rings into collections such as “by designer” or (in the case of generic) by styling such as Halos, Three-Stones, Solitaires and so forth makes it easier for your customer to shop.
It took you years to arrive at your current bridal predicament, and you won’t fix it overnight. That will come with understanding your data, aggressively moving non-performing inventory, replenishing your best-sellers, and accepting that today’s young customer is not interested in navigating your sea of insignificant merchandise. They are much more likely to respond to nicely curated stories than overflowing cases.