Fall 2017 CUTTINGEDGE Products 5 ON THE HUNT In order to remain competitive with big-box and online retailers, it’s important to carry and provide the most innovative new products on the market. Those with a passion for finding new products should head up the responsibility of researching and trying them out. As a retailer, if you feel you have too much on your plate to make it a priority, consider having a manager or an associate who is interested in new products make it part of their job. There are many easy ways to discover new products. One way is to visit competing stores for ideas. By doing this, you can see what customers are buying and what remains on the shelf. However, you can also find inspiration by simply shopping with a consumer’s eye. If something interests you and you believe there is a potential market for it among your customer base, write down the product name and company and start making calls. Pay attention to billboards, TV commercials and even programs on TV, like those made popular on HGTV or the DIY Channel. By taking in the messages your customers receive on a daily basis, you’ll be more likely to introduce trends before the competition can. Local businesses that wouldn’t compete with your store are another great avenue to turn to. Perhaps a local candy shop makes gourmet chocolate. You could offer to sell their chocolate in your store at the checkout counter, where they’ll receive prime real estate in your store. Partnering up with local businesses is a great way to get positive attention from customers excited to support two independent businesses. As a retailer, collaborating with another small business is a win-win. Not only are you stocking products that help boost your sales, but you also help create a stronger relationship with your local business community. BRING PRODUCTS IN, SHOW THEM OFF After searching for new products, the next step is to get the ball rolling and place orders for items you want to introduce in your business. Attending your fall market is a great way to place these orders. However, throughout the year you can check with your sales rep and contact manufacturers directly if you want more information on distributing their product. To keep customers and employees aware of new products, it’s important to keep communication open. After a new order arrives, decide where you will showcase it and offer additional information about it to you employees in a team meeting. Make a list of the latest new products so employees are aware of these new products, and show them where they are in the store. Merchandising is also a key component of finding success with new products. A product you want customers to discover should be near the front of the store, in a checkout queue or power aisle on an endcap. Signage is another way to promote new items. Create shelf talkers to accompany a new product. Or have an area such as a bulletin board where you share all the latest items and where in the store your customer can find them. You can also share new items on your store’s Facebook page as they are available to keep customers in the loop. DECIDE WHAT STAYS AND WHAT GOES The last step in the process of finding new items is to assess the items and see how the investment is paying out. Is this new product selling well or gaining attention? In order to keep your inventory fresh, don’t hold on to items that aren’t doing well. Consider offering a discounted section for items you’re ready to retire. By doing this, you won’t tie up your inventory on something that isn’t selling, allowing you to invest in newer products. Keep tabs on inventory and pay attention to how the items in high-traffic areas are doing. If something still isn’t selling, move it and try something new in that place. Most importantly, you need to put time into researching, advertising and displaying products in your store. Perhaps a product won’t work out, but it’s better to take risks when you feel confident there is a possibility for success. To differentiate your business, stocking new items is key. Stay on top of the trends, keep all departments in mind and share new products with customers in a variety of ways. 4-5_ProductLifeCycle_Fall17.indd 5 7/19/17 7:33 AM