An excerpt from On Sale: How Retailers Are Ignoring Their Numbers and Giving Away the Store, by Cathy Donovan Wagner

The second biggest mistake retailers make is ignoring what their raving fans are telling them.

Now why would you do that? Your raving fans vote with their dollars and tell you what they want you to carry more of. Not enough attention is paid to your best sellers. I know; I made this mistake too.

I was talking to a first time grandma about this wonderful wood rattle that my 6-month-old son just loved. It kept him occupied and happy for so long.

“I’ll take it,” she said.

As I walked to the spot where it hung, I started to wonder if we had them in stock. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach as I realized I couldn’t remember if I had reordered them. Sure enough, the spot was EMPTY. I was out of that best seller. I wanted to scream, “NOO!”

How many times has that happened to you too? That is when I created my N.O.O. list – which stands for Never Out Of.

Identify your best sellers in your store using your POS system and your team as resources. Then give the job to someone else.

You know what other people want to buy. Right? You have that fabulous new jean or great wrap bracelet or that fantastic floral scarf. Now imagine a customer comes in, walks up to you and tells you how they love that scarf that they bought from you a bit ago. Now they want one for their friend and you say with a big smile on your face, “Sure, let’s go pick one out. They are right over here.”

As you start walking to it, you are thinking “I so hope I have another one, I so hope I have another….” And then you look at a hole on the shelf. NOO!

We hate when that happens. It is hard to stay on top of all the items that move fast. Yet, you are throwing away dollars if you don’t find a way to do so.

The trick is to create your N.O.O. (Never Out Of) List. I can tell you precisely how to do this and how to follow-through with it – effortlessly and easily.

First, what goes on the list? Start with the 20 items that you sold the most units of in the last 12 months…. and lay that against the list of the items that you sold the most of last November and December because sometimes that can be different.

List these down on a sheet of paper and make 11 columns next to them.

In the first box next to each item write down how many you sell in a 1-month period. Presto. You have now set your minimum inventory requirement. That is the title of your first column.

Above the next cell write DATE and in the next write INV OH, which stands for inventory on hand.

You will track what your current inventory level is for every two weeks starting with today.

This takes us to my favorite part – the effortless part. You ARE NOT to count it. Because let’s be honest – you have too much else to do.  Give it to your most reliable person. They are to fill this report out each week with the date and the quantity and put it on your desk. (RETAILMavens Tip – this is the kind of detail that we love to help you with. Use neon colored paper and a clipboard.)

Now you place reorders for the items that your customers have voted that they love the most. That’s how we look at it – every time a customer makes a purchase they are placing a vote with their dollars.

They tell you what they want you to carry. This is a great way of making sure that you are giving them what they want.

Every single time we have clients do this exercise, they find items that they are out of stock on. They have lost business because of it.

Here’s the “Never Out Of” form that I share with my clients. Print yours and do this now!

Print the RETAILMavens Never Out Of List

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