The season is almost over and you're out of a lot of things. Do you make that Last Buy?
This is a question that haunts all retailers.
If you don't make the buy, you run the risk of not having what the customer wants which means you lose the sales and you lose their trust. If you do make the buy, you run the risk of having it show up too late and being stuck with inventory you cannot sell.
Here is how to think about it...
Ask yourself why you are out of stock. Did you not buy enough to begin with or did you have an extremely good, better-than-expected run on that product?
If your answer is the latter, you may just want to smile and say thank you to the retail gods for giving you a winner and go home and count your money. Forget all about that Last Buy (it's like trying to double your money at the casino on the last bet of the night - a sucker bet at best).
If your answer is the former, you might want to consider why you didn't buy enough. Was it cash flow concerns or was it just projecting too conservatively? If it was cash flow concerns, think twice before you make the Last Buy. It is a fast road back into cash flow hell.
About the only time you should make the Last Buy is when it is a product you can sell after the season is over and you have the cash to do it.
The best thing to do is to eliminate the temptation in the first place. Overbuy the must-haves. Always project higher on the items people come in asking for by name. Have extras on hand of those items and you won't have to make a Last Buy on them. Everything else? Let it go. When you run out for the season, you run out.
The key is identifying the must-haves. If you are out of things people don't come in asking for, no one will notice. If you are out of things people buy from you all the time, they will notice and they will quit coming to buy them from you.
Don't run out of those items.
PS You know what the must-haves are. The stuff you order every single time without having to look at a report. The stuff your customers ask for the moment they walk through the door. The stuff that sells 3x faster than the average item.