Mother’s Day is a major gift-giving time in the retail cycle and one that needs to be handled very carefully by merchandise planners…

Whilst a much smaller sales peak than Christmas, Mother’s Day is a very important time for retailers particularly in the area of beauty, accessories and sleepwear.  In fact, in the six-weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, more sleepwear is sold than in the rest of the year.  Not only is it important that buyers have the right products to take advantage of this sales surge, but that the merchandise planner has the right amount of stock, at the right time and in the right place for customers.  Too much stock and there will have to be heavy discounting after Mother’s Day to clear the merchandise, too little, and they have not maximised their sales potential as well as disappointed customers.

So how do retailers find the balance and deliver the right amount of stock, at the right time, at the right price allowing for Mother’s Day gifts to perfectly transition out of prime locations once Mother’s Day has passed.  We take a quick look at what they do to manage their inventory proficiently, ensuring that we have both happy mummies and optimised sales and profits.

Stage 1 Plan How much do they need?

  • The planner reviews last year’s performance and lessons learnt. How well did certain products do? Were they left with extra stock?
  • They consider their strategy for this year. How much do they wish to grow sales?  What are their promotional activities?
  • They determine their sales and sell through expectation. Does this allow for the range? What is their width versus depth and sizing strategy?
  • They agree their terminal stock position, (that’s how much will be left after the even). What does this look like in dollars and units? How will this be managed in store?

Stage 2 Buy – What’s my range?

  • They work with the buyer to complete their assortment plan and ranging building. Does this deliver the strategy? Does this fulfil the customers’ needs?
  • They plan the stock to arrive just-in-time and monitor deliveries efficiently ensuring on-time delivery taking into consideration all lead-time implications?

Stage 3 Monitor Performance – Be ready to react

  • Once products start selling, they monitor their performance weekly or daily if necessary, frequently forecast sales/stocks and compare this to their plan and agreed terminal They need to understand the implications of any variances and take action accordingly.  This includes the action they take if sales are higher than expected and also if sales are lower than planned?
  • They have to ensure that the entire organisation is ready to react, executing changes have knock-on effects across the business. So, they need to communicate with marketing, stores, the warehouse etc?
  • They have to manage their store and DC stock levels. If they can sell the stock it needs to be in store and out of the warehouse before the end of the selling period. This means they have to work with the allocation team to give the stock a last push out to stores in a timely manner.

Managing stock in-season requires vigilance and an understanding of how to forecast and react to changes in customer demand. If the planner finds they have too much stock they may need to increase markdown activity, whilst highlighting changes in profit to management. If their stocks are too low, they may reduce markdown activity and have a positive profit outcome.

If you think that a career as a buyer or merchandise planner may be for you, check out our courses and book a FREE 15-minute careers consult.

And when you give your mum that special gift next Sunday, remember all the thought and planning that has gone into getting those Mother’s Day gifts in stores and online for you to purchase…

Happy Mother’s Day