Lindsay Thomas, the Retail Buyer Manager: ‘Tis the Season

Retail Buyer Manager using Indix

Lindsay, the Retail Buyer Manager

The breadth of positions involving people in product management is enormous. Positions, titles and responsibilities differ, but each is using product and pricing data found online, combined with internal product information from their company, to make decisions about how they manage their inventory and merchandise. Indix has endeavored to better understand the different pain points, needs and challenges of product/pricing analysts, category/merchandising managers/buyers working at brands and retailers .

“I work as a retail buyer for a chain of boutiques on the east coast. We specialize in seasonal and holiday merchandise, so my job gets really hectic mid-summer when I’m forecasting for the upcoming Christmas season, negotiating with our vendors for new products and better prices and managing relationships with new vendors as they come up. Our product catalogue grows each year but has to stay consistent with what our customers have come to expect each holiday season.

Before the buying comes a lot of planning. For obvious reasons – we sell Christmas and holiday goods – my job ramps up seasonally and on top of that, each location caters to a slightly different group and clientele. To ensure the right volume of products, I’m looking at historical data from within the company but also trying to piece together as much information as I can from stores selling similar products in the same area. The competition sells very similar products and we need to stay competitive by mining product intelligence, price intelligence, and market intelligence to give our shops an edge.

Our stores have a distinctly boutique feel and the products’ quality and prices have to reflect this aesthetic. We also sell online through our website and I have to track other online sellers to foresee popular products and trends, and forecast demand.

Understanding demand is incredibly important because once the big season passes, demand for our products go way down and so too do the prices. I need to know exactly how much product to buy and how much to send to each store location. Following this, I need to plan for after-season promotions. We need to move the product quickly after the holidays pass, and as long as I’ve done my job well, we won’t have much to move. Product catalogue intelligence is vital to having a successful season year after year.

My ability to be successful comes from years of experience; in essence, intuition based decisions. Still, the more information at my disposal, the better I can be at my job. I also need to understand the landscape of other retailers on the Internet constantly. Our local competition is fierce, but I don’t always have an easy time finding out their products, prices, and promotions. I’m always looking for opportunities for an advantage: whether through building relationships with new vendors, creating innovative promotions or foreseeing trends better than anyone else in our small but competitive market. Long before November rolls around I am keeping a close eye on the competitor marketing.

I’m helping build the brand of these boutiques. I get to bring fun and new and trending products to consumers who are passionate about these products. It’s a job I love and after many years, I’m quite good at. Still, like any job, I have my challenges. These are what I brought to Indix when they came to me for some feedback and insight. As a retail buyer, working within a small but competitive market, buying seasonally and forecasting constantly, I shared my pain points over managing my product catalogue, vendor relationships, promotions, and price and competitive intelligence.”

It is these pain points and requirements that we have taken into account while building Indix, our product intelligence platform for brands and retailers. Using Indix, Lindsay can now track product assortment, catalog, channels, competition, prices, promotions, news, social feeds and more in real-time. If you are a Retail Buyer Manager, we would love to hear your pain points. Please provide us your feedback via comments.

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