It’s vital to watch your stock levels. Here’s how to manage the flow in tougher times.
Is your fashion business experiencing reduced sales and increased stock levels? You’re not alone, as consumers have begun cutting spending in response to the current economic conditions, putting the pinch on many in the fashion industry.
As there’s no certainty about when things will return to normal, it’s vital to watch your stock levels. Stock ties up your precious cash and incurs costs such as storage, insurance, shrinkage and obsolescence.
Here are some tips on managing your stock at the moment:
When ordering stock, last year’s sales for the season may be irrelevant in predicting sales for this year, so don’t repeat the order volumes without careful consideration. Slower moving stock also means you’ll need less stock as a buffer against running out of stock, further reducing your stock holding needs.
Change your ordering style
Placing orders for smaller quantities on a more frequent basis means less chance of you getting stuck with excess stock. Any increased freight and handling costs incurred may be offset by reduced stock holding costs.
Instead of discounting your end of season or slow moving stock directly to your customers, consider establishing a relationship with discount outlets which can move the goods for you. This may be at lower margins, but it will have the advantage of not directly affecting the pricing of your other stock in-store and help avoid long-term damage to your brand image and price positioning.
The natural reaction when sales fall is to decrease prices to retain sales volumes and growth. In a downturn, your business may be better off selling less stock at sustained prices, avoiding shrinking margins and sales that are now unprofitable. Avoiding such reductions can also prevent possible price wars with competitors that are also struggling.
Try spending more time on sales meetings with your staff, brainstorming a greater number of cost effective promotions, advertising and sales initiatives.
If stock does build up, remember not to clutter your store and turn off potential customers. Keep things looking fresh and bright so that it’s appealing, with excess stock stored well out of the customers view.
To protect your fashion business from a downturn, one of the safest strategies is produce or sell a broader range of clothing products and accessories, marketing them to a wider range of customer groups. This means that a downturn in any one consumer segment won’t significantly affect your business.