Countdown to Calendar Sales
Many inspirational calendars are works of art that can be enjoyed every day of the year. The process of buying them is also a work of art—when done correctly. If you develop a plan of action for purchasing your calendars, you can expect better profit from these perennial good sellers. Here are 5 helpful tips I’ve learned from my calendar-buying experiences.
#1: Order early
Many calendar companies provide incentives to retailers who are on the ball and order their calendars early. Ordering early means starting the ordering process as soon as May, when some vendors begin to offer their calendar specials. Even though you may have just sold your last 2014 calendar, it is important to be considering your 2015 selections. Pull out those catalogs now!
#2: Buy responsibly
Every year, use your point-of-sale system to generate the reports you need to reflect on how calendars have sold over the past year. We always have new customers for the popular designs we carry, so we re-order several of those designs each year. However, we are careful to add new ones, too, to keep things fresh for our regular customers. Check how many of your calendars sold in each month leading up to the new year, as opposed to how many sold after January 1, and look at how many were sold at a discount. Also, check the number of calendars that were returned. Although this data doesn’t provide a perfect formula for sales success, it does work well, and it is information you shouldn’t ignore.
#3: Returnable vs. nonreturnable
Fewer companies and distributors are offering calendars on a returnable basis, but if you can buy at least some of your calendars returnable, it is worthwhile to do so. Be sure to understand the requirements some vendors have in place for their returns. For example, some companies only allow you to return a percentage of your original order, while others let you return anything by stripping and returning just the covers.
#4: Display ahead of time
Calendars can ship as early as August. September may feel too soon to be working on a calendar display in your store, but, trust me, it’s not. Many customers are already aware of the need to purchase a calendar by then. Whether it is the organized Christmas shopper purchasing gifts as they see them or the fastidious appointment maker already scheduling their January activities, shoppers are looking for new calendars earlier than you might think. They are usually pleased and pleasantly surprised to see calendars available at a time when most other stores haven’t even considered stocking theirs yet. Show your customers you are aware of their needs by offering calendars ahead of the competition.
#5: Get creative
Customers have many choices of where they can purchase calendars. Give shoppers a reason to buy their calendars at your store. For this, you may need to think outside the box. At our store we have a “Reverse Calendar Sale.” We display all available calendars by September 1. We then offer a progressive discount in reverse: 20 percent off in September, 15 percent off in October, and 10 percent off in November. This trains your customers to return to your store early every year to get the best deal on their calendars. We have people who call each year the first week of September to reserve theirs. It is truly a win-win!
First published in Vol. 28 No. 4 of Retailing Insight. © 2014 Continuity Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.