Preparing Your Boutique for the Summer
Before you get all excited that Spring is finally in the air, remind yourself that one of the most exciting yet most daunting times is around the corner: summertime. Depending on where you're located, summer can make or break you. If you're on the west coast in a beachy town, June-August may be your biggest months of the year. If you're in the deep south, it may be your worst. So many of my clients tell me they're so happy they have an online outlet during the summer months to help funnel the hard-to-sell merchandise but also to keep them afloat through some of the slowest times of the year. The best thing you can do is to prepare yourself for a few months that could be a tremendous roller coaster of highs and lows. There are quite a few things you can do to prepare:
1. Continuously Move Merchandise
Whether you're moving it out of the store or moving it around the store, you always want to make it seem as if you have the newest, hottest merchandise. Get extra creative with your window displays, ESPECIALLY if you're in a tourist town. You want something that grabs attention and can pull customers in. Try focusing on themes for your windows that may be appealing: beach vacations, pool parties, etc.
2. Be Mindful of What You're Purchasing
Be extra careful that you're purchasing PROVEN sellers for the summer months. You want items that are either fast sellers or that can be transitioned into fall. Bold prints, fun flowy bodies, and comfortable basics are great for summertime (tassels, bright prints/colors, and fringe is a must-have right now!) Denim jackets, denim in general, and thick fabrics are a no-go. Be very careful with your spending during the summer months as you never know when your low time can hit. We all have those items that we're scared won't sell, trust your gut. Speak with your vendor one on one and ask them to be honest, ask them how the merchandise is selling for other stores!
3. Take Advantage of Holidays & Festivals
Make sure you have a calendar filled with the local holidays, festivals, and concerts so that you can ensure YOU have the perfect merchandise for your customer and not your competition. The quicker you can get the product in, the better. Note of when everyone started buying outfits the year before and make sure you have your merchandise in stores by then. Be careful buying too many items that aren't transitional once again. While you need Fourth of July looks, be mindful that a lot of outfits that are red, white, and blue are slow sellers because they can only be worn less than a handful of times.
4. Pop Up Shops!
Are there any local events going on? Take advantage of them and bring your product for a pop-up booth. It's always worth the extra few hundred dollars for the booth just to move the product and get your name out. Remember that all booths can be considered a write-off for taxes!
5. Start an Online Store!
Online stores can be very affordable and don't have to be a project that costs thousands upon thousands. Online stores are also be a very great way to get product moving because so many more people will see the product versus just those who happen to shop at your brick & mortar. Start with a lower amount of product and slowly add styles that aren't moving in your store. It's a great way to speed up your turnover rate! Your online customers will always see new merchandise and your brick & mortar customers will as well. Remember, I design affordable boutique websites! You can contact me, here.
6. After Hours Parties
Before you even need the extra sales, start hosting after hours events for local organizations such as philanthropies and sororities. Contact their president and get an exclusive party in the books! This will help you gain a relationship with those organizations and also pull in sales. Don't forget that sororities start searching for Rush outfits around August so you want to ensure you have plenty of styles. Research the best looks - each sorority and college have different days for different outfits. Some include casual looks, others include dressier styles. If you start early in the summer getting a good relationship in the works with them, they'll most likely be back in August for Rush outfits. Maybe even offer them a 10% off card to come in for Rush!
7. Host Sales
Remember when I said to continuously move merchandise? Sometimes it's worth it to move the item and not make a large profit versus holding onto it too long and losing all potential for a sale. TIP: Offer one style daily or weekly that is 10% off. Only have it on sale that one day! Move it to the entry way to your location so that customers can easily spot it. Ask your employees to let customers know you have a special sale!
8. Peak Vacation Times
At what part of summer last year did sales drop off? That can be a good indicator of when most of your customers took summer vacations. Try to be prepared for those same weeks. Will you have a tent sale to entice new customers to drop by? Will you send out an email blast with a coupon? Maybe a text message blast?
Whatever you do to keep your sales going this summer, I highly suggest using social media as your #1 marketing source. It's free, easy, and you can reach your customers in mere seconds! I would love to hear what you do in the slower months to get merchandise moving. Drop your tip in the comments!