opinion

How to Stay Stocked With the Right Balance of New, Classic Top Sellers

How to Stay Stocked With the Right Balance of New, Classic Top Sellers

The start of the new year means new products! This can be exciting, but also a big business responsibility when it comes to balancing new-release items with your tried-and-true bestsellers.

Viral sensations like the Rose Vibe have left everyone across the globe scrambling to keep them in stock. It was crazy to have so many people try to get that one specific style in, but as an industry we rallied like we usually do and made the best of the trend in all aspects of the biz, from manufacturing to retail.

Habitually reordering the same items without adding a lot of newness is detrimental to your sales floor or online business.

New releases like the Rose Vibe are tricky because their availability is limited and therefore inconsistent, and customers that are determined to get their hands on that specific item are unlikely to want to settle for anything else. Customers that are strictly focused on one item tend to spend less than those who are looking for a product in a broader product category, like a wand or rabbit vibe. These items are also reactionary purchases, which means that the urge to purchase comes and goes — whatever strikes the buyer’s mood. On the other hand, new releases that fall in popular categories make it easier. Your customer base understands traditional categories that have lasted because they are consistent crowd pleasers.

But how long is something considered a new release and when does it become a regular item? Personally, I consider something a new release for up to eight months. The first three are typically spent regulating inventory, while the remaining months are aggressive sales on that one item. A popular item typically also has a healthy amount of marketing support and online content that can be used to keep its newness “fresh.” Once it passes the newness phase, as a retail buyer you must decide whether it is worth taking up the space of a traditionally bestselling item.

New versions of products count as new releases. Stores that don't track new versions carefully can end up with excess inventory in the form of older versions. You must maintain a balance; I suggest a 60/40 mix where 60% of your inventory comes from items you consider top sellers in each category and carry regularly, and 40% is for new items or new categories. Does 40% seem like a lot? Perhaps, but look at the sheer volume of new products coming out and it’s not as expansive as it may seem.

You must also manage slow sellers and move them out quickly. Don’t let those items sit for a year or so and oxidize on display. How do you decide what a slow seller is? Take a list of items and run a report calculating average sales by dividing quantity sold by days covered in the report. If a slow seller is way off the average, clear it out and try something new. It’s limiting your store sales.

Don’t just reorder. I see a lot of stores get into a bit of a rut when it comes to ordering. Reordering is a process in and of itself, but just habitually reordering the same items without adding a lot of newness is detrimental to your sales floor or online business. You must plan on adding in newness to your inventory selection. Maybe 60/40 isn’t realistic for your business. Try 80/20 and see if that is more comfortable for you. If an item goes a month without selling, then maybe it’s time to try something else. If it’s a G-spot vibe, I’m not saying discontinue it. That’s a classic category. But obviously this particular vibe isn’t the star you were hoping it would be. There is a plethora of new G-spot vibes being released. This is the time to try some new releases. Same with all your other top-selling categories. 

People often don’t realize the time and energy spent on orders and reorders, but I see you! I’m cheering for you and the hours you spend poring over reports. I hope these tips can help with your New Year’s planning and I look forward to seeing those 2022 releases in stores soon!

Danielle Seerley, aka “America’s Sex Toy Sweetheart” (AmericasSexToySweetheart.com), is the senior sales executive for Shibari Wands and Voodoo Toys.

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