We are going to talk about how to be a buyer, and there's a big difference between being a buyer and having somebody sell to you. You don't want anybody selling to you you want to be able to put your big boy pants on and be the buyer. You want to have final choice in everything that you choose to your store. The first thing is to take a look around at all the products. It's important to walk every isle row by row even if it's a product category that your not used to carrying in your store. The next thing is you want to ask permission from one of the vendor if it's okay to thumb through them. You want to able to look and choose and when your buying you want to able to look at product and in your mind pick a retail price that you think your customer also will pay.
The next part is you want to ask "can you give me a range of price points?" Some of the vendors are going to say "sure our t-shirts start at a dollar and go to a hundred dollars." They are not giving you a price range, now you want to be more assertive and you want to be firm and you want to say, "let's try this again give me an idea of your neck t-shirts, of your blend t-shirts, of your casual t-shirts and now they'll give you a better idea of price point. I just want to step out for a second and tell you this, these tradeshows are very intense, the retailers have three days, the sellers have three days to do a tremendous amount of business.
There are too many people that are amateurs that waste the vendors time and these goods are terrifically expensive, so really be professional and know what your doing and know the right questions and get to the point when your doing business there. The next question is what is your cancel date and this is important because you want to be able to control when the merchandise comes into your store. If we are buying goods for Easter you want to make sure they are in the store six weeks before, Christmas six weeks before. You want a cancel date that is at least six weeks before that day. A cancel date in legal terminology means the last possible date that the vendor is allowed to ship to you without you canceling the order.
As for a cancel date you also need a start date, so Industry Standards I got to tell you there's a lot of sneaky people in this business right? Industry standards they'll probably tell you as ready and I'll interpret that for you, as ready means whenever I feel like it. You have to stay in control of your order, so it's really important that you put a start date and a cancel date. While placing an order for Valentines Day, Valentines Day is usually February the 14th right? We probably want the goods six weeks before, so we might want a start date of twelve thirty with a cancel date of one ten. That means that you still have enough time to get the goods into store, tag them, price them and put them out and be able to sell. A start date and a cancel date are very important to have on your order.
The next question you want to ask is what is your FOB. FOB is a term that means Freight On Board and what your asking is why am I responsible for paying for this shipment. Usually the FOB will be somewhere in the United States. If it's coming from Canada, if it's coming from South America or France you want to be aware of that because now you have additional charges of TCP and Duties. The next thing is what are your terms. This is a nice way of asking how am I going to pay for the goods. Basically when your small and first starting out it's going to be on credit card terms. My advice to you is to never give a credit card at a tradeshow and make sure that you have an invoice that you can match up with your order and I just said something about these two, you want to be able to write your own orders on your own order forms and the reason why is because you have uniformity and your paying with your own rules.
The idea is that we take our invoice through the orders and then we send our credit card authorization form. Again when I ask you to use your own credit card authorization form because on your form it's going to say "you will never charge my credit card again without my written authorization and you will ship my goods within three days of the credit card being charged." This is a question that most people use when they first approach a booth and that is "what is your minimum?" If you start a conversation like that and now with the other points that I mentioned your already telling the vendor "I'm very small, I don't know what I'm doing please take advantage of me." The idea is that that's probably one of the last questions you want to ask what is your opening order?
Honestly we are just being polite and to get an idea because at the end of the day ... and this is really important now, you really want to emphasize this. Buy what your comfortable buying. Let's say that the minimum order is five hundred dollars and you look at it quickly and you can see your only up to three hundred dollars, it's okay to tell the vendor "listen I'm new, your new to me, let's build a working relationship together. I'm comfortable buying these three hundred dollars can you work with me?" I promise you ninety nine percent of the time they are going to say it's okay and they are going to work with you. There's always that one guy that is going to say no so here's what you do, my advice is take your orders home and then fax them in later.
Every once in a while somebody will call up and say "hey Mercedes didn't I tell you the minimum is five hundred but here's your order for three hundred dollars." This is what I do I always apologize, "I'm so sorry the people in my office they are so efficient", but now that you have your orders value there's really nothing that you can help me with and usually I'll get my way. The idea is that when your buying your the buyer, don't let people sell you and your important to his business don't think that your just one little tiny retail shop and mentioning it you will say. You are the backbone of this industry, you are the risk takers, you are the ones that re going to try new or emerging designers, you are the ones that are going to go out of your way to be the best advocate for the unknown. Make sure that you understand that you are important to this industry.