Before selecting, the Buyer will view all the available ranges, attend Trade Fairs, talk to suppliers, look at competitors, analyse market reports, and so will develop a good understanding of the market, its successes and trends.
If they are considering licensed merchandise, for example toys and gifts, they will be aware of relevant film and TV releases, and the dates and planned promotional activity. All of this will be carefully evaluated and their likely effect on the market taken into account.
Promotional plans, advertising and marketing campaigns will be discussed.
The Buyer should be able to envisage what the landscape will look like to the consumer once the season arrives and the new product is launched.
Armed with this understanding of the market , their own business sales history and client demographic, and the products already re-included and directly imported, the buyer now begins to complete the jigsaw .They can begin to decide which products or concepts need to be included in their new ranging.
They evaluate new concepts or ideas and decide how relevant they are to their customers, and so whether to include them in their range
Final range selections can be made tentatively, as consultation with colleagues will now begin and they may request changes for various reasons.
The technical department will need to check compliance with relevant standards or legislation, so may be unhappy with the quality. The merchandising team may be unsure of the likely stock support. The buyer will aim to allay these concerns by bringing them up with the supplier, but may take the advice of their colleagues.
Negotiation with supply chain.
As they make decisions on the ranging the buyer will consider factors that can improve profitability at this stage, by negotiating deals with suppliers based on proposed listings or expected turnover.
During this tentative stage of selection, some changes to ranging may be made. Suppliers will try to affect selections, to ensure the lines they have committed to are listed, maybe advising that selections be reviewed due to revised promotional plans.
They face the same lead time issues as the retailer, they too have committed to production, before all retailers have finalised selections, and certainly before they have on-sale estimates available.
The selection process
Every Buyer will come to their decision in their own way and their own time. But they will have deadlines to meet so that everyone else in the business can play their part once the selection is made.
The Buyer and their team will request samples and quotes into their sample centre on a specified date, several weeks before the date for which formal selection meetings are scheduled.
(They may use photo quotes, a photograph of the product, with specification, cost price, packaging etc. For some larger, more technical products, such as white goods, it is easier to select from photo quotes than actual samples)
The Buyer and their Assistants will assess the quotes and samples, and select the final range .Negotiations with suppliers will take place and the range will be in flux for a while.
Relevant colleagues will be shown the range and given the opportunity to raise concerns and issues.
Merchandising will review lead times, stock availability, the performance of suppliers. They will allocate budget, so need to know about promotional activity. They will place opening contracts, covering an agreed percentage of the estimate. In season, further contracts will be placed, increasing the percentage of the estimate purchased as the season unfolds.
Quality control or technologists will want to check for safety issues, conformity with legislation, and availability of any legally required test certificates.
If the product is delivered to customers’ homes, the Packaging department will check suitability of packaging and perhaps specify bags or over boxes to protect the retail packaging. This will have to be costed and taken into consideration in the margin calculation.
The department responsible for presentation will review the range to ensure they do justice to the product.
Marketing department will seek any potential opportunity for their campaigns. They may highlight new or innovative products to use in their own advertising, or value lines to promote. They may want to advertise the company as stockists of film related merchandise at the cinema launch date.