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19th October 2017
By Mo Yusuff
One of the most frustrating times in my life was when we had too many brown jumpers.
It also had a huge influence on me over the last 30 years or so and was a great marketing lesson too. Believe me, this is very applicable when selling promotional products.
Allow me to explain.
It was in the late eighties when I was a budding young manager of a Men’s clothing shop (or boutique as we used to call them in those days). Barnaby Rudge the shop was called and there were around 20 or so branches dotted around the country.
I was the manager of the Bedford branch which was one of the biggest. I loved my job so much that it didn’t seem like work at all. The company was very successful, mainly due to the high fashion stuff we sold. Most other menswear shops had fairly drab ranges and the sort of clothing we stocked was not generally seen outside of London.
Every Monday morning was stock ordering day. We’d get out stock sheets, count all the garments filling in the sheets as we went along. Then we’d list the stock we needed for the week and phone it through to head office. Wednesdays was delivery day and “Paul the thug” (as we called him because of his big build and aggressive looking punched up face) who was the company’s full time delivery man, would turn up with a van load of stock which usually included one or two new lines.
Then suddenly everything changed.
We were told the company had been sold to a big firm based in the Midlands, John Cheetle they were called. They had a reputation for piling ‘em high and selling ‘em cheap. They boasted about this new revolutionary system they had that saves time and, therefore, money. We didn’t need to count the stock in such detail anymore because all the basics were bundled in ratio packs.
One of the big sellers in the autumn was Shetland wool v neck jumpers. They came in four colours: black, navy, beige, and brown. Navy and black would fly out the door then beige and brown, especially brown would barely trickle out the shop.
Now this new stock ordering system worked like this:
We would count the total stock of, for example, Shetland wool v neck jumpers regardless of colour and size and if we sold say 20 or so, we’d get a ratio pack of 24. A mixture of all the colours and sizes including brown.
A month or so later sales of the best-selling Shetland wool v neck jumpers grinded to a halt. See we’d built up so much stock of brown we weren’t selling enough for the stock to be replenished.
Screams of “We have too many brown jumpers!” fell on deaf ears. Eventually, I left.
Now, the lesson here is give people what they want not what you want them to have. Also listen to people and understand their needs.
This is something we’re pretty good at: listening, asking questions, and helping our customers choose exactly what works best for them. In fact, we wouldn’t dream of simply assuming one size fits all.
So, you may look at our range of promotional products on our website but don’t assume that’s all you’re going to get from us. If you don’t find what you like, let us know the promotional products you’re looking for and we’ll find them for you!