Answering your Bridal Businesses questions on Inventory
Our team of Bridal Business Experts has answered our most frequently asked questions on Inventory!
We've laid out our most common questions, but if you want to dive even deeper, listen to our Inventory Q&A podcast episode to hear Grace & Marissa's commentary & answer even more.
Have questions of your own you want us to answer? Read to the end to see where we do Live Q&A's every week!
Let's dive in.
It feels like it's time to pick up a new designer... what questions do I ask?
Well, first, why do you feel, why are you not analyzing numbers? It feels like a new designer... well, why? The first place to start is your own numbers.
Shameless plug... Marissa's Inventory Course is available in Behind Bridal University, and it solves this problem for you. It analyzes not only your designers, but your silhouettes, necklines, and fabrics. Just because you like something and it looks similar to what you have that sells, buying more of it is not always the answer.
You always have to go back to your numbers and say, where are the holes? Is it because sales are not performing with current designers? Is it because you're over inventory? Where are you under assorted? What do you have too much of that you need to move first? You shouldn't think that you need a new designer. You should be able to justify why you're gonna invest five figures in something new.
my customer is changing and I need to drop a designer. How do I decide which designer I carry to drop?
Understanding your customer, and if they are changing, is the first place to start. The solution to serving the customer is investing in your largest expense. If your customer is changing, is it because you just did a rebrand? Is the change on purpose? Decide what this means to your business before making the decision to invest in inventory that serves that customer.
In deciding which designer to drop, identify who is underperforming in sales, and ask yourself: with what you currently have on inventory with them and looking at those styles within that designer, is it the entire collection? Is it just one or two bad styles? What is really driving the lack of sales?
Sometimes the designer you think is obvious to drop isn't the best choice, you have to dig a little deeper and search further into your full inventory to determine what is the smartest option.
How do I know it's time to do a sample sale?
All the time. Okay, maybe not all the time.
For a scheduled sample sale, every store's a little bit different. Some do it once a year, some do twice a year, and some do it every quarter. having too many sample sales risks your brand identity to shift your fundamental customer because they associate your store with sales. That's a very different customer than the one that you serve on a daily basis that is shopping you for your brand and not for your prices.
Off-the-rack can be happening "all the time" passively. You may have two organized and advertised sample sale events a year, but you should be moving through off-the-rack as it comes naturally as well.
What are your tips to have a successful sample sale?
If you're doing sample sales infrequently, you really need to rely on moving inventory regularly without the sample sale pressure. You can put so much pressure on sample sales and it can result in a frustrating sample sale weekend when you don't move through as many gowns as you wanted to.
Set goals for your store within chunks of time rather than for one weekend. Have things marked in your store to give the okay for your stylists to move through stuff in regular appointments, so if you have gowns already on your stylists, the second it fits somebody perfectly, they can do a perfect "oh my goodness, this was meant for you!" Give them a discount and get it gone.
Sample sales can be really hit or miss. If you can get good at moving stuff throughout the year so that you don't have to put such an emphasis on the sample sales, they can be a "bonus", because they're a lot of freaking work that doesn't always pay off because the margin's not there.
How often should I be analyzing my inventory?
Quarterly at a minimum. If you're a sociopath, monthly. (Kidding! Mostly...)
The more you analyze, the tighter your inventory gets to be and because it's your largest expense, it's the one you should manage most often. The more you analyze, the smarter you get to be and the less money you spend on shit that doesn't sell.
If you can analyze on a monthly or quarterly basis, you're going to quickly see what is not going to work for your store and you can move on quicker.
We all make buying & inventory mistakes, you'll always have buys that are not great. That's just how it goes. Designers will tell you too, there are designs that they'll put a lot of faith and belief in that might just not connect and that happens, too.
Bad buys happen, but analyzing earlier can get 'em gone quicker.
what percentage of my store should accessories take up?
Every business is a little bit different, but here's what we will say: it is not going to be your money maker. You are in the business of selling bridal gowns, so do a good job of selling bridal gowns. If you want to be known for selling accessories, then focus on it. If you want to be known for selling bridesmaids dresses, then just do that. Do not try to do it all, because they're all different customers.
Getting accessories in-store should be to help you sell more gowns. It's an add-on business, not another revenue stream. It's simply built into your business to help you sell more gowns so they can see the complete picture.
Think of it this way: in your business plan, the amount you spent on the interior, the process, Bridal Live, your marketing, everything that goes into creating this incredible experience for your bride is under the assumption that you're selling a $2,000 gown. If you were to set up an accessory business, you would never spend the amount of money on square footage, marketing, and all the above to sell a $50 pair of earrings.
As a general rule of thumb, 90 to 95% of your business should be bridal gowns. And if it's not that, I hope you have a business plan to sell more of that other stuff because frankly, the margin's not the same. Be the expert on your money maker, and that's where you're going to get the biggest return.
BBU's Inventory Course
We wanted to create a less intimidating way to approach inventory management because when we ask stores how they go about buying and your answer is "We know our customer, we know what we want to buy." ...that's our least favorite response in the whole world.
Prove it to me. Maybe you do know your customer, but prove it to me (and you!) with the numbers to back it up. The only thing that's gonna prove to you how in tune with your customer you are is data. And if you've had some great buys by following your intuition and you're looking to scale, you need to be able to not have a great sense of that gut check. You should prove it to yourself with data so that you can make smarter decisions faster.
Regardless if you are an inventory beginner or you've been around for a while, consider investing in a done-for-you system you can apply to your business to see tried and trusted results. Marissa's Inventory Management Course is for you.
Giving you the exact same training we use to help our clients grow by 6-figures, time & time again, this is a complete Inventory Management System for Bridal Stores to give owners the tools to access all sales & inventory data necessary to manage their business. Learn more about Behind Bridal University here!
Did you love this blog & want to hear even more inventory questions answered by Grace & Marissa? Listen to the full podcast here.
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