Written by: Stephanie Faddis
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, in the off-price industry for retailers such as Ross, maintaining positive relationships with your vendors is the most important part of forming a concrete foundation for your business. Without these relationships, the vendor will never have you in mind when they suddenly have a cancelled shipment of higher-end merchandise and need someone to sell it to – they’ll likely call up one of your competitors instead. And so, five tips to a successful vendor appointment, for aspiring buyers:
1) Know your Item Sales. This part is easy, as with a couple clicks of a mouse, you can have your entire past order history for a vendor printed, complete with FUN metrics like product turnover and sell through percentage (exported neatly into an excel sheet, of course). A style with a fast turnover ratio is a most likely definite reorder, as long as its still appropriate for what season you’re buying for and the vendor still has it on inventory.
2) Conversation is key. Approaching the conversation from a friendly perspective and not just a business one can ease the atmosphere. Obviously the friendlier you are, the more inclined the vendor will be to give you better prices. Not to mention, this is a good way to get an idea of what they’re selling well to other merchants and what styles or colors aren’t seeming to pick up in trend.
3) Have a really, really good poker face. Admitting your business is going well, what products you’re really interested in, etc. – these are examples of how to give away your position when negotiating. Friendly nonchalance is probably your best bet.
4) Know when to stand your ground… Don’t be easily pressured into taking the higher price just because the list price is exponentially higher than what you want to pay, or because the vendor is trying to give the product a sense of exclusivity to make it more desirable. Not budging on what you’re willing to pay can often work in your favor.
5) …And know when to walk away. Sometimes, there isn’t any compromise. You win some, you lose some, and there’s always next time. Enough said.
It’s been an extremely long couple of days for me, as my buyer’s VP flew in to Los Angeles for the week from New York on one of his regular visits. That means back-to-back appointments in order to fit in as much as possible in the few days that he’s here. Hopefully, a lot of success comes from it! As much as I love being in the market, luckily for me, I have some fun intern bonding events this week to balance it all out. Until next week…