2020 has been a nightmare of a year, and it’s been especially hard for small businesses. The Optical Industry has taken quite a hit, and made us all realise that to survive times like this we need to be adaptable, and open to looking at new ways to conduct our business. But before we can do this, we need to understand what we already have. One area that I get asked a lot about is frame product ranging, and how to get it right.
(disclaimer – if you don’t work in the Optical industry, this article may be a bit of a bore….feel free to read on and comment on ranges you do or don’t enjoy! The next blog post will be for you 😉 )
Product can be the most exciting, and the most stressful part of an Independent Eyewear practice. Eyecare is first and foremost what you are about but, having the right frame and sunglass selection is what keeps your customer in store while also attracting new business for you. Knowing and understanding your demographic is key to getting your stock formula right, but many practices are unsure of how to manage their stock ranges effectively.
By conducting a regular range review you will be able to identify your best selling ranges, the most profitable brands and price points, slow moving stock and areas that either are or are not worth investing in. I’ve come up with a list of tips to help you get your product range sorted – hopefully these will help you out!
- I do my range reviews on an Excel spreadsheet that I update monthly so it’s always on hand when I need it. I know other people are happy to write one up fresh each time they feel they need it. There’s no right or wrong way, as long as your plan makes sense to you!
- Separate RX frames and Sunglasses and do a review for each independently. These two categories are quite different from each other. Just because a brand does well in Sunglasses, doesn’t mean it will also do well in frames.
- Make a list of how many pairs you want to stock. This will become your target range. For example, how many display spaces you have + 6 weeks back up. Put as much detail into this as you can. Try splitting your range into Men’s/Women’s/Children, Fashion, Sport, budget etc
- Run a stock listing report per brand and see where these numbers fit into your above plan. This part can be time consuming but gives you a great understanding of your stock performance. Manually going through this stage is the best way to get your head around where your stock range is working. There are sure to be as few surprises!
- At this stage, enter the numbers into your spreadsheet as goal qty, current qty and over/under qty per brand.
- Run a report showing sales for the category. I look at this every 3 months. Ensure you run it listed by brand so you can see which are best performing.
- You should now have an idea of where changes need to be made. It makes no sense to have 30 frames on the shelf of one brand if you only sell 2 per month. Ensure to look at your prices too, checking best and worst GP, any repetitive product faults, quality of after sales service from suppliers etc.
- Once you have made a decision on what will stay, ensure you have these brands topped up to the max qty you want to carry. If you display your eyewear in rows, I strongly suggest sticking to one brand for the entire row. Splitting them makes the ranges look messy, even to people that don’t know the brand names.
- If you have slow or poor performing brands, check with the wholesaler and see if they are willing to swap out the models and start fresh, or swap out for another one of their brands.
- From here you should have a clear understanding of what is missing from your range. You can call reps who you already deal with and explain your gap to see if they have any brands that may fit. Alternatively, look around to investigate any new potential suppliers.
If you own your business but don’t directly help consumers with their purchases, I would strongly suggest involving your staff in the review and buying process. What worked for you a year ago may not be working anymore. New releases sometimes change the fit of a brand and this also may not work with the majority of your clientele. Your staff are the frontline of customer feedback. They will know what colours sell, what colours and shapes draw the attention of customers, and what brands attract new business.
A good product range says a lot about your business. If it is neat, organised and tells a story, this is how your overall business will be viewed. Knowing your product and having a solid goal in place will alleviate some of the stress of purchasing and managing product in uncertain times. By knowing you are investing your money only in brands and product that works for your business, it becomes less of a risk and more of a benefit to invest in.
If you would like more information specific to your situation, don’t hesitate to send me an email via my ‘contact me’ page.
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