How to Manage Your Inventory Like A Pro
With wholesalers becoming more efficient than they’ve ever been, it’s easy enough to order your stock on demand and get your delivery just a day or two later. However, there can be many benefits to keeping your own inventory of spare stock in-house. An unexpected busy season might strike, or you might find yourself in the midst of your second, third, or even fourth misprint. In those moments, having your own inventory can be an absolute blessing. That’s why Dan Strickland from Garment Gear is always sure to have some extra stock stashed away. Today, he tells us more about the usefulness behind surplus stock, and how to go about it smartly.
Why do you find it helpful to have an inventory of spare stock?
For Garment Gear, for example, we do a lot of orders and promotional giveaways for Spring Break where it’s a no-brainer that we need basic white shirts. Because Spring Break is only a 5-week span, we want to bring in a bit of inventory, to have right on hand. When you have clients who want to do big promotions, you want to be able to do it quickly, which definitely helps when you have an inventory.
The other advantage is that we've all gone through having some spoilage! If you have the right inventory in your shop and you do have spoilage, you can pull directly from what you have in-house. This is especially important at the retail level because sometimes [wholesalers] will just be out of particular sizes and you might not be able to order it all in time.
How do you forecast or decide what kind of spare stock to have?
Always think about your market and how you usually fulfill your orders. If you have a product that you use over and over again because that's your market, it's probably beneficial for you to buy what you can reasonably afford and stock it in-house. So for example, if you do a lot of band merchandise, then a black tee would probably be a staple for you. Also, establish good relationships with your wholesaler and they’re often really happy to share the trends that they're seeing. Get some of that forecasting information by talking to your wholesale reps because that's really what they're there for.
I imagine when it comes to colors, you can forecast those based on trends. Sizes, on the other hand, are a lot more specific. How do you recommend forecasting and stocking the right sizes?
Good question! So a while ago, we were going through a lot of kids products and found smaller sizes [at wholesale] were very difficult to find. We ended up having a tough time and just had to purchase everything in the smaller sizes that we could find. So just have a good look at your order history and track record of what you've been doing in-house. I'm sure some shops are geared towards different types of events, so think about what sizes tend to run for triathlon events versus say, beer festivals or arts festivals.
How can you keep an inventory of extra stock without it being too much of a financial burden?
If you’re making similar orders constantly, it’s beneficial to just go ahead and order a little bit extra so you can try talking to the wholesalers and get a better price or a freight discount for upping your quantities. For small print shops, having excess inventory on hand can hurt your cash flow, but because of that, we really don't order too many extras of what we call the ‘fashion products’, like the 100% cotton, the ring-spun, and long sleeves.
I can imagine stock very much relies on seasonality. How do you prepare for this?
I'm from Florida so we don't get too much change with the seasons. Of course farther North, you don't want to have a lot of short-sleeve inventory on hand when the Fall and Winter months are approaching where you'd want more long-sleeves and sweatshirts on hand. Also, you won't want to have too much extra stock in September when you know the seasons will be changing and cooling off pretty quickly. There are a lot of shops that get slammed at the same time in the Fall because you have school sports teams and athletics starting up. If you're a big supplier for one particular school, I would recommend having a good inventory of their school colors in advance so you're well-prepared to cover the school market.
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