A fashion buyer's checklist will expand your capabilities in creating an assortment for a shoe store
02.07.2024 1114

A fashion buyer's checklist will expand your capabilities in creating an assortment for a shoe store

On the eve of the purchasing season, the buyer’s main task is to prepare for the formation of a new assortment. If we pass this stage efficiently, then we increase the efficiency of our work by at least 2 times, reduce the risk of outsider models appearing in the collection and increase overall liquidity and the share of hits. SR expert on purchasing and sales in the fashion business, Elena Vinogradova, shares recommendations based on her extensive practical experience as a fashion buyer, and has also compiled a checklist especially for readers of the magazine to assess your readiness to purchase a new collection.

Elena Vinogradova Elena Vinogradova - an expert in sales and purchases in the fashion business. Author of a business blog for clothing, footwear and accessories stores.


I propose to evaluate the degree of your preparation using the checklist that I made based on my experience as a fashion buyer for 14 years. Breaking down into thematic blocks will allow you to see your strengths and growth areas, and find opportunities to optimize the process of preparing for procurement.

1. Analytics and trend forecasting

An important stage in assortment formation is the study of commercial trends for the coming season. Otherwise, you will rely only on sales statistics (this is also important, and we will talk about this later, but statistics alone are not enough for a quality balanced purchase). Observation, understanding of market development through the product and its stylization, the desire to show your customers new products and the willingness to take a conscious, calculated risk for the development of the assortment and wardrobes of your audience - this is what trend analytics gives. And this should be done by a store of any segment and positioning.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Analysis of collections of major brands and fashion weeks shows for the new season: New York, London, Milan, Paris, Copenhagen, Seoul. 

B. Analysis of trend bureau reports (trend books) and/or open sources to forecast trends for the next season. C. 

Analysis of the assortment of brands in the fast fashion segment, which are trend indicators. 

D. Analysis of the assortment of key marketplaces and websites of main competitors. 

E. Analysis of street style sources. 

F. Analysis of publications by opinion leaders - top bloggers, celebrities.

2. Analytics of your own sales

Another key block in preparation for the purchasing season. Allows you to evaluate all the commercial indicators of the previous season (or several) and plan the future volume of the collection within the parameters you need. Sales statistics in conjunction with the first block of the checklist “Analytics and trend forecasting” provide a strong foundation for forming an assortment for the new season.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Preparation of sales statistics before discounts (sell out) - item-by-item list with sales results in financial and physical indicators.
B. Preparing a list of bestsellers (bestsellers).
C. Preparation of a list of anti-sales hits (outsiders).
D. Analysis of the reasons for best-selling models.
E. Analysis of the causes of outsider models.
F. Analysis of balances at the end of the season and forecast for carryover balances of the next season.
G. Analysis of sales by size: identification of popular sizes and sizes in stock.
H. Analysis of size grids for each brand and adjustment of the grid for the next season if the supplier has such an opportunity.
I. Analysis of sales by style: what sells best (sports, classic, etc.).
J. Analysis of sales in any other sections of interest (by color, risk group, etc.).
K. Analysis of returns/defects, determination of the share of delivery.

3. Procurement planning

The next mandatory step in a buyer’s work is planning purchases for the next season. Without a plan, it is impossible to assess the fact and set goals for the development of the store and business as a whole. Purchasing “by touch” leads to the same sales, loss of market share, loss of customer base and gradual exit from the industry.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Market analysis of sales of clothing, footwear and accessories: publications, forecasts.
B. Preparation of a sales plan for the next season for the store/chain of stores and other sales channels.
C. Planning the norm of residues: general and by seasonal groups within.
D. Calculation of the purchasing/production budget for the store/chain of stores and other sales channels.
E. Planning budgets by suppliers.
F. Calculation of the assortment matrix in models and units (pairs) and financial indicators for the store/chain of stores and other sales channels.
G. Planning the assortment structure by risk groups.
H. Planning the depth of purchases for different risk groups.
I. Retail price planning and markup guidelines.

4. Feedback from store staff

An important step in the process of preparing for the new purchasing season, in addition to working with numbers, is collecting and analyzing feedback from the team. This way you can find out additional factors to adjust your procurement plan that statistics will not show.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Survey of sellers on the current collection: pros, cons, customer reaction, wishes for the new season.
B. Meeting with the manager/managers of the store/shops on the results of the sales season and plans for the new collection.
C. The work of a buyer in a store during the season is monitoring customers “in the fields.”

5. Feedback from buyers

A block of similar importance is working with the client base and understanding the needs of your target audience. The staff evaluates the client’s opinion through themselves, I suggest finding out directly too, this will be more accurate and, ultimately, more effective.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Survey of key clients on the current collection: what they liked, what was missing, wishes for the new season.
B. Survey of customers who did not make purchases this season - reasons, wishes for the assortment for the next season.
C. Feedback from secret shoppers on the assortment and service in the store.
D. Sales analytics for regular customers - models, size charts, frequency of purchases, average bill, depth, preferences by brands, styles, etc.
E. Unmet demand analytics (critical!).

6.Monitoring competitors

As you continue to work through the marketing portion of the pre-procurement process, be sure to research the competitive landscape. Here we can highlight a whole complex of components, since the company must have a system of such monitoring in different sections. But for our purposes now I propose to limit ourselves to two points:

A. Monitoring the assortment of direct competitors during the season: understanding hits and anti-hits in collections, understanding balances at the end of the season.

B. Monitoring the appearance of new brands and product groups in competitors’ assortment during the season.

7. Working with suppliers

The most important component of a buyer’s work is constant monitoring of the supplier market, optimization of work with them and the search for new names. You need to be able to build relationships with the owner, designer and brand team, be able to negotiate, convince and argue your position. Thanks to these skills, you will achieve the most favorable conditions and will be able to influence the financial results of sales already at the procurement stage. It is also important to study the market and analyze new offers that may be of interest to your target audience, to allocate time not only to work with existing contractors, but also to search for fresh brands and product groups.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Preparation of current working conditions for each supplier.
B. Analysis of the history of cooperation.
C. Drawing up a list of goals for negotiations with suppliers.
D. Determining priority suppliers to order.
E. Monitoring the supplier market.
F. Negotiations with suppliers during procurement in order to improve the terms of cooperation.
G. Communication with suppliers: collecting information on the state of affairs in the industry.

8. Planning purchase schedules, business trips and order placement dates

High-quality work on creating your schedule will help you optimize not only your working time, but also the financial costs of travel if you fly on business trips to exhibitions, factories or brand showrooms.
Pay close attention to purchasing schedule planning to ensure orders are placed and confirmed on time and deliveries are received within the agreed upon time frame, without delays due to late placements. Plus, a convenient schedule will allow you to maintain energy and focus until the end. During the buying season, a working day can last 10-12 hours, you can have 6-8 meetings and look at thousands of samples of clothing and shoes at the exhibition.
And the next day it will be the same. Planning your work will help you find the right balance and maintain focus and strength.

Points to evaluate in this block:

A. Preparation of a list of key exhibitions: dates, locations, participants.
B. Preparation of a work calendar for showrooms and factories of interest.
C. Request and analysis of deadlines for submitting orders to suppliers.
D. Drawing up your order schedule.
E. Planning meetings with suppliers in order to optimize the procurement work schedule.

We reviewed the main points of the buyer’s checklist “Preparation for the purchase of collections.”

On the eve of the purchasing season, the buyer’s main task is to prepare for the formation of a new assortment. If we pass this stage efficiently, then we increase the efficiency of our work by at least 2...
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