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Jim Green's blog

For New Buyers #10

May 18, 2012

Buying looks easy. Go to market, select some furniture to set on the showroom floor, write the PO, and then wait for the merchandise to arrive so it can be displayed. Sounds simple, right? This description is...but it is not all the merchant's job description entails. Not by a long shot; and the best merchants understand there is a great deal more organization involved if a store is to maximize its potential.

Stepping Up for Sales and Profit

Ever since Antonio, the merchant of Venice sold his wares, one of the seminal concepts of merchandising has been the notion of ‘stepping up'. Professional buyers understand that sales associates should have someplace to go with a customer when presenting a more promotional piece of merchandise. If the promotional item is $399, should there not be a better quality, more appealing item, with superior craftsmanship at a price above $399 for the sales associate to step to.
There are a number of ingredients at play here.
1. The higher price must be warranted. It should be worth it. It may be a combination of quality, better craftsmanship, intricacies, tailoring, superior materials, greater appeal, size, scale or any number of other elements that justifies the higher price. There must be a reason that it is more expensive.
2. The step-up item should be priced at the higher level of what a customer might spend over and above the cost of the promotional item. The customer will probably not step up from $399 to $1099. He/she may very well step from $399 to $499 or $599.
3. Obviously, every item may not have a corresponding step-up item on display. The showroom might burst for lack of space. But, if a promotional item enjoys a significant draw of customer interest it may merit a step-up item.
4. One of the most commonly neglected actions on the part of some merchants lies in their lack of communication to the sales people. The merchant knows what he/she is thinking but fails to pass it along. The person on the front line needs to have a grasp of what the promotional item is, what the intended step-up item is, and how to sell it (i.e. all of the reasons and selling points to step the customer up.) This is perhaps the most critical component and in my view, it is part of the job.
If your company employs new buyers or buyers that you would like to see become more effective, I can help. Email me at or call me at 727 347-1201.

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