Originally published in Fine Food Digest (August 2018) here are my thoughts on planning, buying and managing independent shop Christmas ranges…

Steady Now

Its very tempting to run out to trade shows at this time of year and place orders for the most attractive new product ranges using good old gut feel.  But I believe we need to go a bit deeper and be a bit more considered.

 

Lessons Learnt

Its imperative to capture what worked and what didn’t the previous year, we’d refer to this as our Lessons Learnt or ‘Wash Up’.  It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but its an important tool in helping you avoid costly buy mistakes.  If you’ve not got a record of last year already, pull one together now with whatever information you have to hand.

 

View Your Range

You’ve got to think carefully about the composition of your range.  Listing out key categories can be useful; confectionery, gifting, pantry etc.  Under these headings add products you want to keep from last year, and then layer in any gaps your lessons learnt picked up.  Any remaining space can be given over to newness.  Any additional newness will be the icing on the cake.

 

Taking Inspiration

Newness and trend products are important to add interest and variety, but you only need a modest number of these additional lines on top of your more commercially successful product you have already committed too.  You might find those precious few via one of the wholsalers (most have just released their Christmas 2018 catalogues) but social media can also be an excellent place to find new ideas.

 

 

Plan your orders

Over ordering can be a costly mistake and even has the potential to wipe out the profit should be making.  Nailing the correct volumes is vital.  Again, ignore your gut.  Use last year’s sales figures as your starting point and blueprint before you even think about picking up the phone.

 

 

Mark Down Early

Monitoring your stock during the trading season is crucial, take action early if products are not moving in the way you hoped, remember, your first loss is your best loss!