Monday, October 27, 2008

Sales and stashes

One of the most exciting parts of being a shop owner is having sales! We had one last month, and (this will show you what a sad life I have!) I really enjoyed it. There's something about watching happy customers leaving the shop with their bargains that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy - it's a sort of shopping-by-proxy, where I can experience all the joy of shopping without the horror of working out how to pay off my credit card afterwards :-)

My past life as a tech writer didn't really prepare me for organising and running sales. Negotiating contracts yes, but selling off 40kg of stock at a reduced rate, no. Now my life has acquired a new and wonderful dimension - the Marketing (Sales) calendar.

The calendar works thus: in order to attract traffic to the store during the quieter periods of the year (i.e. summer, when no-one in Australia knits or crochets because the temperature regularly exceeds 40 degrees), I need to hold at least one sale. I also need to ensure that I don't go broke by selling off too much stock at low prices. A third point - I need to try to run my sales so that they don't clash with other sales held by other stores - ideally, my sale will come first, so that everyone's stash will be full and they won't be tempted by other wool stores. Failing that, my sale needs to happen when everyone else is selling at full price so that people who have been tempted by other wool stores will still be tempted to buy at my sale.

In case that wasn't complex enough, our suppliers have sales. We can use those sales to get cheap stock for our customers and make them happy - but we need to make sure that we're doing this at a time that doesn't undermine our own sales. The last thing we want is to get known as Our Ladies of the Perpetual Discount Bargain!

All these factors come together in the Marketing (Sales) Calendar in a piece of organisation that could most accurately be represented in an equation developed by a quantum physicist. Actually, at present, my Calendar could more accurately be described as a 'conceptual document'. What that means is, being so new to the business, I am making a lot of stuff up as I go along! Next year, I might write something down - and the year after that, I'll go looking for a quantum physicist who can sum up the whole thing for me in a neat little equation...

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