Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it's sometimes hard for small retailers to even catch their breaths, but these next six weeks are a very important time to evaluate your product selection, working relationships with your vendors and the effectiveness of your product sampling.
I've written about vendors and sampling before. My philosophy is simple: Sampling works. And, in a nutshell, I look to my vendors to work very closely with me.
The two go hand in hand.
It's fair to say my store, the Heart of Iowa Market Place, is a specialty retailer. And, just like other stores, we have a finite amount of shelf space. Without putting serious thought into each and every product that goes in my store, I'd be sacrificing precious shelf space -- and dollars. Between now and the new year, I'll keep a close eye on what sells, what doesn't and what I can do to make each product sell better so that I can make sure my 2014 inventory is the best it can be.
I have some great vendors, but I'm always going to evaluate how we work together and what we can do better. As I tell them, if your product is sitting on my shelves, neither of us are making money.
It's absolutely essential to have vendors who understand the big picture of your business and where their product fits into it. They also need to be marketing-oriented and will cross-promote my business through their website and other avenues.
Finally, if you haven't done product sampling before, there's no better time to start than today. If you have products that aren't moving, start sampling them. You'll be surprised at the results. If you have been sampling, now is the right time to consider whether tweaking your sampling strategy can create even bigger results. With everything else that going on during the hectic holiday season, it's never easy to look ahead to the next year. But, you'll be glad you did.