Order management would ideally start with an analysis of your sales for the previous comparable season(s). The right stock management system will allow you to quantify what was sold and at what margin, and then exercise your judgement as to the trends for the forthcoming season. Having a basic plan is a guide only so once you see what’s available you need to adapt, but not ignore, the plan. There is probably no point in spending quarter of your available budget ordering trousers when for the comparable season last year trousers struggled to make up 14% of your sales.
Even within a buying period relying on your memory, or even on paperwork that cannot be easily interrogated, is also hazardous. It can be very hard to remember in April everything you ordered in February. Forgotten orders lead to over-ordering by size, colour, department, type etc. Over-ordering leads to a massive loss of profitability; it will certainly affect your margin and your cash flow. Likewise, if you don’t remember what is due in, by when, then you cannot plan your seasonal merchandise to best effect and certainly will lose sales.
At its simplest therefore, over-ordering or miss-timed deliveries are responsible for many of the items that you pay for in March but only manage to sell at half price in the June/July sale. Buying is not an exact science and you are unlikely to ever get it perfectly correct, but it can be so much more efficient. Ordering ‘errors’ may be the reason why you go on sale in June/July when some other retailers start their sale in August. If you have precise historical sales information you need, and have an ongoing record of what you have bought to date, of what’s been delivered and of what’s outstanding at your finger tips then your buying will definitely improve.
Keeping on top of your orders should be a fast and simple exercise. Fast order entry and receipt is essential, so a key factor is to ensure that your system can quickly and efficiently generate the order paperwork and barcode labels you will need, once again a size/colour grid is vital here. On a practical basis you may not receive in all the stock you ordered, so check how your system deals with partial deliveries and produces barcode labels on-demand to match a delivery. Check that the system can give you precise historical analysis by supplier, department, type etc and that you can analysis your budget spent to-date in the same way – right down to the size and colour level.
As with all parts of the Top to Toe system, orders can be quickly entered and received via a clear size/colour grid. Reporting by any combination of supplier, department, type etc is standard. Automated ‘short cuts’ make it easy to receive large deliveries or partial deliveries, to track outstanding balances, print individually designed barcode labels and to plan your cash flow. Take a look at Top to Toe and see how it can improve your buying and increase your margins.
- Top to Toe, Senator House, 2 Graham Road, Hendon, London NW4 3HJ
- +44 (0) 845 130 3535