Make Purchasing a Team Effort
Does your company handle purchasing as a team? Are the voices of your sales and support staff heard before you place purchase orders? Obviously, a purchasing director or manager needs to make final calls on buying decisions, but the more you can get your associates involved in what they're going to sell, the more they'll be motivated to sell it.
Reaching out to your team will almost always make purchasing decisions easier and more effective. This can be through formal store meetings, departmental meetings, vendor rep visits with sales associates who report back to you or individual meetings with each person. Include everyone from upper management to young, entry-level associates in these decisions. Having different perspectives is priceless in determining what to buy and how much of it to buy.
Granted, you may not be able to buy everything every employee wants, but simply including others in the decision-making process will help with team-building. You'll also find that sell-through improves when everyone feels included and understands the buying process. (Imagine having no input in what gets purchased and being expected to sell it.) Granted, there's no way to include every person in every decision, but when team members know they're included in some decisions, they're more likely to be supportive in selling everything in your store.
Brainstorming with associates about departments that they don’t work in can give you useful feedback, as well. I remember when one of our large vendors announced it would be changing the name of some of its products. Everyone directly related to that product line was extremely concerned about this change. By including the rest of our staff in a discussion about it, we realized that making the change wasn't an issue at all. In the long run, it proved to be one of the best moves we ever made.
If you have more than one location, you can even create your own "league," and each team contributes to that league. Purchasing decisions can be part of conference calls every week or every other week.
What if you order something that's not moving as fast as you'd anticipated? At my store, we have two annual promotions specifically designed to address these items. Our annual "Closed-Door Sales" and "Dog Days of Summer Sales" have been effective ways to address these purchasing errors.
Now get out there, and make purchasing a team effort!