JCK Las Vegas: LUXURY Gets the Boot (Camp)

On
Monday, May 30, Buyers International Group (BIG) held a preview of its
three-day Merchandising Boot Camp before the start of LUXURY at JCK. The
two-hour session provided a snapshot of BIG’s three-day intensive seminar in
which retailers receive rigorous training on BIG’s five steps of merchandising.

During
Monday’s session, BIG CEO Abe Sherman focused on the first two steps: planning
and budgeting. (The other three are buying, management, and visual
merchandising.) One goal of the two-hour session was to help retailers see the
importance of creating a buying plan; here, of course, Sherman used BIG’s
Inventory Planning Model (IPM), a spreadsheet containing several product
category tabs. 

In the full three-day Boot Camp experience, Sherman asks
-retailers to list the merchandise sold in their stores and the merchandise
they have on hand in order to create a buying plan that more precisely fills in
inventory gaps in various styles and price points. Monday’s attendees received
a free electronic copy of the IPM.

“The
industry is catching on to what we’re teaching because we’re giving retailers
such a precise tool for buying,” says BIG vice president of operations Ellen
Falcinelli of the Boot Camps, which are a fairly new facet of BIG’s suite of
retailer Intelligent Merchandising services. “We’re also giving retailers
practical sessions to take what they’ve learned and apply it.”

Many
store owners have taken multiple sessions, are bringing their employees, or
plan to attend this fall’s Boot Camp with additional support staff.

“Retailers are finding tremendous benefit in bringing key
staff members so as many people as possible understand the entire process of
what it takes to buy more strategically at trade shows,” says Sherman. “With
the price of gold and diamonds going up, plus inventory management and cash
flow issues bearing down on retailers, they can’t afford to buy what they think
they can sell.”

Peggy Coleman, general manager of Nelson Coleman
Jewelers in Towson, Md., is active with many of Sherman’s retailer groups and
attended the first Boot Camp with her store’s inventory manager. Later this
year, she’s looking to bring her top sales associates to the next Boot Camp.

“We believe in being very -transparent with the sales
staff,” says Coleman. “We rarely buy something the sales team hasn’t seen
first. And it’s a good reward for the staff. It shows we value them and their
input.”

Jenny
Caro, owner of Jewelry by Design in Woodbridge, Va., brought two staff members
to Sherman’s LUXURY seminars and workshops. “We need a system that gives us a
true open-to-buy,” says Caro. “The IPM gives us that by making sure we don’t
add in our leading brands, special orders, and repairs to our open-to-buy to
avoid buying off our top gross sales.”

Sherman will lead several
seminars throughout the LUXURY and JCK shows, including “5 Steps of
Merchandising” on June 4 at 3 p.m. in Tradewinds EF.