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Straight Talk

Jeannie Yoon, owner of Jeannie N Mini in Irvine, CA, uses forward-thinking buying strategies to drive business.

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CALCULATE AND CONQUER:My buying habits are very numbers-driven. I run weekly reports on sales and profits for each of my brands to help decide the allocation of store and warehouse space as well as forecast inventory. A general hint is to focus on finding more products to sell to your existing customers. It’s much easier to increase sales by selling more products while customers are in your store than looking for new customers to buy your limited items. Also, try adding lots of small impulse-buy items—you’ll be surprised how much those sell!    

QUALITY CONTROL: You need to work with brands that pursue long-term business, not a quick ‘get rich and get out’ attitude. Beyond quality, I look for brands that control market prices (e.g. strict MAP monitoring) with good margins, provide free or low-cost shipping and have great customer service.   

VALUE EACH CONNECTION: I analyze my customers by reviewing what is selling (child’s age group, price point, product category) and by direct interaction. I have over 12,000 loyal customer program members, and I follow up with individual emails after a purchase—often leading to helpful feedback!

SEEK PROFESSIONALISM: I find it really annoying when companies ask for credit card details without first sending me an invoice. It’s like asking for a blank check. I also avoid working with companies that are always out of stock. Running out of stock in the first six months after a new product launch is understandable, but after that it’s poor inventory management. Another obstacle comes from companies that frequently change the packaging of the same products and change the SKU and barcodes, as well. This creates a lot of confusion and additional work for buyers.

THINK AHEAD: My online business has grown 260 percent this year over last year, and I anticipate it will continue to grow faster than my store business. I’m hoping for a 50/50 split between online and in-store in a couple of years. I also want to set up a distribution business for great overseas brands to launch into the U.S. It seems that wholesale business will soon shift to an online base just like the retail business has.

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