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52 March 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com Christina Krasch is a buyer and market- ing coordinator for SleekHair.com, an online beauty retailer that offers beauty products and tools for women and men, buying guides, beauty workshops and lookbooks. The Sleek Hair showroom features more than 500 brands and 30,000 SKUs. When selecting products and brands for the showroom, Krasch considers three key factors: (1) Can the customer play with it? "Some items (that although are cult classics) don't encompass that 'stay and play' environment we want the walk-in customers to experience." (2) Does it represent the Sleek Hair beauty culture we have evolved into? "As a diverse company, we want to assure our customers that when they visit our store, we have something for everyone of all ages, genders and skin colors," and (3) Does the brand support Sleek Hair as a retailer? "A showroom requires lots of attention and we invest a ton of energy into perfecting it, so when deciding on which brand to feature, we always consider the level of support the brand offers us as a retailer." Buying and restocking strategies are time-consuming, Krasch notes, adding that she clues in on researching the con- sumer base to determine what consum- ers are interested in, the trends they're following and how it's all reflected in the sales reports. The company's inventory coordinator runs reports to alert Krasch about what needs to be replenished. She then works individually with each brand to place purchase orders (POs) and get insider scoops on new releases so she can plan future POs for product launches. Her recommendations for inventory management are simple: "I always recom- mend the grassroots method for starter companies. Get to know the product, get to know the platform and you'll discover that you are so immersed in the brands and products that replenishing them becomes second nature," Krasch adds. To avoid potential buying risks, Krasch uses social media. In particular, she relies on "…Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr and YouTube to get a feel for what's trending" as well as beauty magazines and partners' subscriptions. Sales reports to compare data on new items round out what she calls "A perfect storm for marketing and buying when bringing on new products and brands." She works closely with the company's brands to ensure they under- stand Sleek Hair's needs as a retailer as well as their needs as a brand. "Because we are a growing company with limited warehouse space, we face challenges when bringing on any new products. [We] pride [ourselves] in strong partner- ships and work extremely hard to bring on new brands and SKUs by compromising on minimum-order quantities and more frequent POs," Krasch concludes. Buying, selecting and reordering inven- tory is a pretty simple analogy for Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder and publisher of Retail Minded and cofounder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Reyhle compares inventory purchase strategies to a home kitchen. "I always advise retailers to consider what their staples and their statements are within their inventory. Staples would be the bread and butter of your store, so to speak, while statements would be your egg- nog. In other words, what do you need to always have that is always selling? And what—and how much—should you introduce to your customers that is seasonal or trendy and should not be consistently re-ordered?" She adds that reviewing your store's POS-generated data is also essential to success in main- taining proper inventory levels. When it comes to inventory soft- ware, Rehlye has a few favorites. "I'm a fan of many point-of-sale systems and other inventory-based systems, such as ShopKeep POS, Square, Brightpearl and Intuit." But she's quick to explain that it's important to do your homework before choosing a system to make sure you pick the one that's ideal for your operation. "I recommend merchant[s] take the time to review at least three [systems] before deciding what may be right for them," she advises. Gauging buying risk is a double- edged sword that Rehlye warns can come with both reward and failure, so it's important to review and analyze potential risks before acting. Consider the investment costs, time sacrifices and marketing efforts, "at the very least," Reyhle warns, before you invest in new products. She also asserts that smart inventory purchases require that you "always remember that when you are buying for your store, you're not buying for yourself." She reminds that buyers think of their customers and what their needs and budgets are. "Buy for them to help sell more. Sometimes it really can be that simple," she advises. Last, she suggests Retail Minded 's strategy to avoid excess inventory— see page 56! ■ Katie O'Reilly is a Berkeley, California- based writer.. "A showroom requires lots of attention and we invest a ton of energy perfecting it." —Christina Krasch Sleekhair.com Christina Krasch Retail Minded Leinbach Reyhle "I always advise retailers to consider what their staples and their statements are within their inventory." — Leinbach Reyhle GET STARTED WITH INVENTORY SOFTWARE THAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU Asset Panda: AssetPanda.com NetSuite: NetSuite.com ShopKeep POS: ShopKeep.com Square: Squareup.com Stitch Labs: StitchLabs.com Brightpearl: Brightpearl.com Cin7: Cin7.com Intuit: Intuit.com Images courtesy of each Retail Minded and Sleekhair.com