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The art of creative retail buying

For retailers, buying creatively and being able to stock products which tell an ongoing story are encouraging consumers to buy into brands and to keep coming back for more, says Gill Davies.

the independent sector has been powered by good business management supported by sophisticated IT, individual creative directions in buying and the availability of great design and product that sells well to the customer.


Buying strategy for these retailers is everything and being able to hold onto creativity in store at this time of year is especially challenging. Instinctive retailers have the advantage here and most of us have that local store whose owners have created a regular buying destination rather than just another shop window. Keeping on top of a merchandising programme, designing and planning layout and being able to hold the changing visual pattern in the mind is a real knack. Independent retailers are also well supported by the their

regular, day to day suppliers. Deals can be made, just in time deliveries agreed and delivery costs dropped in longstanding and mutually beneficial relationships. Some retailers have also negotiated Sale or Return for seasonal product – this keeps everyone on their toes. This retailer is king and SOR, a knock on from the High Street, is now relevant for the independents. Success in this part of the trade is also about day-to-day hands on retailing, decisive buying and watching and listening to the customer.

While the autumn shows provided independent card and gift retailers with last minute buying opportunities for Christmas and a catch up with existing successful suppliers there were also plenty of new publishing companies who offered a range of product lines as the norm. Greetings cards may or may not be the focus but their collections are put together to give the retailer a merchandising story, with a higher price range and the opportunity of further sales.

The extended product range story is not new and has been with us since gifts were added to cards by less prominent independent retailers, in an effort to diversify and survive. It has, in fact, revived and rejuvenated local stores and created a market for iconic and contemporary design, giving designers


ast month’s trade fairs were buzzing on the days independent retailers attended. Orders were written and many retailers had decided to walk the trade thoroughly to refresh their memories of current products and spot new suppliers. This continued revival in

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