Will a direct container change your life, forever? Yes, absolutely….definitely maybe…. How is that for assurance?
DEALING WITH REJECTION
Recently, during a very successful trade show, I had the opportunity to speak with a newer garden center owner who expressed interest in buying a direct container from us. She and her husband had bought the business a few years ago and had some rather fierce competition from a “high-volume” retailer in their area. She said she really wanted to get in there and compete on price and would like to talk to us about buying bigger volume. When I asked her how much pottery she currently did, she told me that she did around one to two full truckloads last year, including the concrete fountains she was buying from a domestic vendor. This gave me pause. I had to take off my sales hat and think about the best way to tell this person that it would be a big mistake for her to buy a direct container.
After a short attempt at turning her toward a warehouse buy, she turned to the sales person and said, “can I just work with you? This guy doesn’t want to sell me.” Ouch. I’ve chuckled about that since then because, of course, it was her choice – she knows her business; she sees it every day. Who was I to tell her “absolutely not! I’m not going to sell to you!”
BEWARE THE UGLY OVERBUY
While buying a direct container is the absolute best way to guarantee that you will be positioned to fend off any foes with greater margins and price flexibility, it isn’t always the best strategy to meet your goals or please your customer. I can always tell when someone is buying direct containers: their inventory looks deep, but not as wide as if they were buying out of our warehouse. While the volume of pottery is fantastic, it lacks the diversity most independent garden center shoppers are seeking. Further, one or two wrong planter choices in volume could leave the IGC owner scratching her head with what to do with the “bad buy” items now in abundant display. We’ve even had people tell us that they really need to buy new inventory to freshen up their look, but they simply must get rid of the old inventory that they are stuck with from a direct container buy….from 2 years ago.
Shoppers don’t like to see the same inventory for too long. Repeat business requires us, as IGC owners, to constantly change out our offerings, giving the customer reason to come back over and again and discover something new. If you wait too long to shed excess inventory from a direct container, those planter selections will seem to the customer drab and unexciting.
DIRECT CONTAINER VS. WAREHOUSE BUYING
While the superior pricing found through a direct container is seldom attainable out of the warehouse, the advantage of buying planters in 2-4 sets may far outweigh the 12-16 sets you acquire on a 40’ container. Your opportunity to turn the product goes up. In addition, most pottery wholesalers offer competitive early buy terms, helping you save your cash for special orders during the season. Thirdly, your store will look exceptionally diverse, increasing your responsiveness to customer’s tastes.
DON’T BE A HATER
Don’t get me wrong, direct containers can be awesome. If you are currently selling significant inventory (selling, not stocking!), then you may want to consider container buys. If you have items that you know you’re going to sell and you want to buy them in volume and increase your profit margins, then it is a great way to go. My suggestion for any high volume dealer is that they add direct containers as the foundation for their sales, and then supplement their base offerings with the variety through warehouse buys. If you aren’t sure what items would be best to order in volume, working with a qualified sales representative is key. In my humble opinion, if you’re selling 4 or more truckloads of pottery per season, getting your staples for less (while not sacrificing quality) just makes sense.
BUY SMARTLY WITH “A PLAYERS” AND RESTOCK OPTIONS
A common mistake we see direct container buyers make is ordering products because they are “so cheap,” even though said products would have never been ordered at regular wholesale price. Cheap “C Player” products are still… “C Players.” Let’s say you are saving 50% landed on your direct container, ask yourself whether you would buy that product at twice the price you are now ordering it for on the direct container. If the answer is “no,” move on; stick with the winners.
Our dealers are all about the customer experience. Give yourself an opportunity to be a hero by direct container buying with a backup plan. Jackson Pottery stocks many of the same items we offer in our direct container program. While you will want to try some new items we don’t offer in open stock, be sure to include some regularly inventoried items on your container buy. In doing so, you can always re-order those same items if you run out.
THE GOOD NEWS
The young lady at that trade show did buy from us, but she didn’t buy a direct container. Smart decision, young lady. Knowing that is the route she wants to go in the long run, it’s our goal to get her there. Ultimately, I’m not going to stand in anyone’s way who is driven to succeed.
Interested in buying a direct container?
Call us today to find out about what options are available for you!