Banding together with brands
If you don’t make that investment, how can you do more with less? One way is to add new semi-set designs with cubic zirconia (CZ) centres. The obvious advantage is deferring the investment in the feature diamond until it’s needed. However, the transition from cash-and-carry goods to semis involves an awkward period of adjustment where you have to explain to your clients why some designs are ready to purchase with specific pricing, while others have variable pricing and might have to be special ordered. You can create your own selling system to facilitate this, but there are branded lines who have done a lot of the forethought for you.
Branded semi-mount programs can be so well-orchestrated you don’t even need to train your staff, pick your merchandise, or set your budget. Those who choose to hitch their wagons to popular brands stand to gain clientele, credibility, and a boost to bridal business. The first key question to ask when considering this strategy is: how much additional business must you acquire to make the investment profitable?
The second matter to consider is the effect this new line will have on your design turnover. If it takes away sales from your existing product lines, then it weakens your ability to keep those other lines fresh. When most sales of your branded lines are special orders because of sizing issues or design modifications, your selection will not revolve—not to mention the fact your cash-and-carry designs may not be revolving either, due to your new emphasis on the brand.
The more special orders you place, the less you sell down your inventory. The less you sell down your inventory, the less open-to-buy (OTB) (i.e. available budget) you create for new designs. It’s quite predictable for branded semi-mount programs to become stale after a year or two. That’s why stock balancing has become a very important tactic in many supplier relations.
It’s a common story that some brands dictate terms and push you to carry more inventory. It may be warranted, or you may have a strong case its performance cannot justify going deeper. The key to negotiating is to be fully armed with information above and beyond the normal ‘items sold’ and inventory reports.