Columnists

Squirrel Spotting: Don’t Sell Spoiled Milk in December

ColumnistsOct 22, 2019

Squirrel Spotting: Don’t Sell Spoiled Milk in December

Jewelers should not treat the holiday season as the most wonderful time of the year for moving old merchandise, Peter Smith writes.

Peter Smith is president of Memoire and author of two books, “Hiring Squirrels,” and “Sell Something.” Connect with Smith on LinkedIn or at dublinsmith@yahoo.com.
There has long existed a truism in our business that if we have products that are long past their sell-by date, we ought to just hang in there until Christmas in the hope those pieces will benefit from the holiday euphoria and find a willing buyer.


We’ll often comfort ourselves with the thought that we don’t need to stress over dated products as we believe that this Christmas, this holiday season will be the one when customers finally wake to the reality of how great those products really are.
I mean, you bought them, or made them, so why wouldn’t customers share your excitement about how great those goods are?
Alas, there are a few flies in that soup.
First of all, even though the Christmas season remains a time for optimism, we must now contend with the reality that less and less of the business happens in the post-Thanksgiving period.
Sales are now spread throughout the year, with fewer customers waiting until December to make their purchases.
With less traffic during the November/December period, there are far fewer opportunities for customers to respond to your slower-moving products. The controlled madness that used to define the season has now given way to a new normal, with more measured traffic counts and fewer certainties.
Sell your best during the holiday 
Secondly, the need to give the customers who are coming into your store a great experience has never been more important. Expecting that to happen by exposing them to your worst-performing jewelry is optimistic at best, and perhaps even misguided.
Surely you would prefer your precious customers to experience the best of what you have.
The safest way to ensure that customers return to your store is to mitigate friction for them, and there is no greater friction than buying the wrong products. Don’t we want our customers to feel great about their decision to visit us, and the choice he or she made?
Save your dated inventory for a blowout sale during your slowest time of the year.
Building an event around inventory reduction can be effective if it is a departure from your normal business practice, and provided it is legitimate with the product and discounts as advertised. Transparency and authenticity are no less important for closeouts as for non-discounted sales.  
Sell your best during the holiday season and save the off-price for off-season.
If you want to try and sell an iPhone 4 in the age of iPhone 11, be clear about what it is and let the customer decide if they want that deal.
Don’t try to sell them spoiled milk and tell them it’s cheese.
Peter Smith is president of Memoire and author of two books, “Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent,” and “Sell Something: Principles and Perspectives for Engaged Retail Salespeople.” Both books are available in print or Kindle at Amazon.com. Connect with Smith on LinkedIn or at dublinsmith@yahoo.com.
Peter Smithis president of Memoire and Hearts On Fire, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

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