Craft Focus - June/July 2020 (Issue 79)

Catherine Erdly has more than 19 years’ experience working with product businesses of all sizes from high street names (such as Paperchase and Coast), all the way down to brand new businesses with just a handful of customers. As well as speaking at numerous trade shows such as Top Drawer, The Stationery Show, Fashion SVP, Natural and Organic Products - Europe and the Retail Expo, Catherine is also on the Editorial Board of Modern Retail, a judge of the Good Retail awards and a contributor to Better Retailing magazine and Stationery Matters.” For further information, visit them through difficult times, and that’s really hard to do if you put all your money into stock. If stock management was critical before, it’s absolutely vital now. This is also the perfect time to go through your inventory and check your stock records are accurate, as well as review what stock you think you will realistically sell for the rest of the year. Are there any seasonal items that won’t sell and could be put away for next spring? Do you have the stock you need going into the summer and autumn selling periods? 4 AVOID KNEE-JERK PROMOTIONS If your sales are lower than they’ve been, it’s because we’re in very uncertain times and nothing is worse for sales than uncertainty. If you knee-jerk and start running discounts to get sales going again, there’s a danger that you will come out of this (hopefully temporary) situation having taught your customer that you are a promotion-driven brand. In the future, they would be trained to wait until you go on promotion rather than buying at full price. You want to avoid this at any cost. 5 HAVE A REALLY HONEST LOOK AT YOUR NUMBERS It’s time to have a really honest look at your sales forecast. If you don’t have the sales forecast, now is a great time for you to get one, because you need to understand how your cash flow will look over the next few months. Knowledge is power. If you can map out the next few months based on a realistic and a worst-case scenario, then that’s going to be a lot less uncomfortable than ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away. 6 BE PROACTIVE Think about what you can do to improve your business. Consider all of those areas of development that you’ve thought about previously but never had time to put into action. Think about using this time to get yourself fit for the future. Things like your sales forecasting and your stock control are basic business management principles that you can work on and improve, but also look at your business and be proactive about what else you can improve. 7 STAY CLOSE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS It’s going to be bumpy. You’re going to feel demoralised but don’t retreat. Think of selling as service. How could you help your customers? How can you meet them where they are right now? So if they’re uncertain, or they’re stressed, talk to them. The people who go out there and really connect with people and meet them where they are will be the ones who continue to make sales. IN SUMMARY Don’t panic, focus on your products. Manage your stock. Avoid knee jerk promotions. Have a really honest look at your numbers. Have a really good look at your business and identify areas that you could work on to get ready to come out of this stronger than ever, and stay close to your customers. If you’re proactive and action focused, if you stay positive and you keep showing up, then the outcome will be so much better for you and for your business. 71 BUSINESS