Monday, May 01, 2006

Getting the stock in

The decision about who to go with to get our stock is now upon us - and it's come down to a decision between Nielsen Bookdata and Gardners. The latter is one of the leading wholesalers for book retailing in the UK - offering a whole range of services that makes them very attractive for a small independent. However, Nielsen are a little more of an enigma. Since buying Whitakers, they have (I feel) attempted to combine the excellent bibliographic information with TeleOrdering into what might be a very innovative system. I've had several chats with various people in the organisation, and they've been very helpful, although (as they themselves have admitted) they offer so much flexibility in tailoring services to lots of different client sectors, sometimes it all gets a bit confusing. My concern is that - for a small independent, especially one that needs to keep a close eye on budgets initially - Nielsen is a bit of a Rolls Royce system more suitable to larger operations. As I understand it, Nielsen is trying to provide a fully-flexible system of allowing you to order directly from the widest range of publishers (getting round some of the restrictions of a wholesaler) - without having to go to the publishers themselves. This is combined with their innovative data services. However, you have to pay a significant premium over the (essentially free) wholesaler ordering system. We're faced by this decision in part because of our EPOS system (Oscar Book) which integrates with both (or more accurately either) system. So how both systems integrate with Oscar is also something to bear in mind - Nielsen are very much the preferred candidate. We have more information arriving from both companies this week - any experiences of recommendations out there would also be gratefully received...

2 comments:

  1. We just opened a new bookshop 4 months ago in London - www.crockattpowell.com - and from our limited experience running it ourselves (but about 15 years in other bookshops between us) here are some thoughts:
    I read in another post you're planning on spending about 10,000 on opening stock. We spent close to 25 (cost price) and it feels a bit light to be honest but I don't know the size of your shop so it may be fine (ours is about 750 sqft). Anyway, with that size of stock as soon as you start selling stuff you're going to be noticing pretty big gaps on your shelves quite quickly which means you'll be replenishing stock regularly. It sounds like the neilsen system allocates all your orders to individual publishers, which would mean lots and lots of very small orders or leaving those orders to the end of the week to get a few more points on discount. However if you're leaving the orders weekly you've got the shelf gap problem again.
    If you use a wholesaler for opening stock and most stock replenishment you get the benefits of next day delivery (very, very important for small stock-holding indies - customers are still surprised at this speed of response) but you do have to make up an order of a hundred pounds not to incur postage charges. Also, the bigger your turnover with a wholesaler, the better margins you'll get. Look at THE (the best website by far for ordering) and Bertrams as suppliers too. They may offer better initial discounts for you but they don't stock as much as Gardners. Also, if you go with one of the wholesaler computer systems they provide the software and a computer for free in return for a certain turnover (not too much). I know you've already got an epos system but... If you've only got 10 grands worth of stock you don't need epos as you can track sales through basic wholesaler stockholding software with a separate till no problem.
    Also, beware what neilsen subscription you take (you'll need one for most systems anyway). The online service is more than twice the price per year than the quarterly but with access to the net you can use amazon, the British Library, publisher websites and many more for upto date info.
    I won't go on to much more but if any of this is helpful then e-mail us from the website and we can offer help and horror stories. Best of luck.
    ps open accounts with EVERYBODY. You'll be surprised how generous the publishers can be if you start pushing their books.

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  2. SUSAN HILL4:52 PM

    I`d warn against Nielsen.. they are trying to combine 2 things which don`t.. they`re OK at data, though very slow in my experience as a publisher...and not always accurate. I have had many a problem getting an ISBN etc. Their technology is only just coming into the 21st century. Gardners are brilliant.. I speak with both author and publisher hats on and no, I get no shares ! They have never made an error, never failed me, everyone is named, everyone is accessible and everything is QUICK.

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