Modern Merchandising - Jobbing Trend Toward Broader Lines
( Originally Published 1918 )
Struggle for More Trade. — The force that urges us on is the desire for more business. That which we have is not enough. Trade this year is ahead of that of last year. Consequently, unless progress is going to be halted, next year's business must show an increase over that of this year.
Manifestly the volume of business one can do is dependent upon what proportion of the needs of the community that business is capable of fill-ing. In other words, the jobber whose lines are confined to undertakers' supplies cannot expect to do as large a volume of business in a given territory as the wholesale dry goods house or the wholesale grocers. People die but once, whereas they wear clothes and consume food every day of their lives.
The jobber handling the limited line, or lines less frequently in demand, is specially subject to the temptation to use intensive selling methods and to sell the retailer more goods than prudence would dictate. He feels that he must bring his total volume of business up to a certain aggregate within the year in order to make a showing that will return profits commensurate the investment and the effort expended. So he calls in his star salesmen and tells them that the remaining months of the year must show twice as much business as those that preceded them. He re-vises his lists of prospects within his territory and divides them up among his men, and perhaps he hangs up a prize or a bonus to the salesman who will open the largest number of new accounts per month or during a quarter, or who will show the largest volume of business from an equal number of customers, old or new.
Manufacturer's Assistance.—More than likely the jobber will turn to the manufacturer for sales assistance. If the manufacturer does not carry retail accounts, but sells exclusively through the jobbing trade, then he will probably start a series of sales letters to the prospect lists the jobber may furnish, or send the letters to the jobber, who can do his own mailing. It is more satisfactory in most instances to have the letters go out from the manufacturer, as there is carried with them the impression that the trade of the individual dealer who receives the letters, is of sufficient importance to be sought for. Then the reference to the fact that the goods are carried by the jobber named tends to heighten the impression in the minds of prospective customers that the jobber is thoroughly reliable, or such a manufacturer would not have placed his lines with that house.
Another phase of manufacturer's assistance to the jobbing trade is the sending of factory sales-men into the jobber's territory and either working independently or in connection with the jobber's own sales force, thus putting all possible pressure on the retail trade to place their orders. This is a practice most generally followed in connection with the introduction of new lines of goods, while there are manufacturers who keep a force of what are called "specialty salesmen" because they devote their entire time to the sale of the special line, constantly in the field, covering one section of the country after another, either taking orders on some special jobbers or on what-ever jobber the retailer buys through, thus giving annual or semi-annual stimulus to their trade in each locality.
Tendency To Overstock.—There is a most important lesson to be learned in merchandising, whether by the sales force of the manufacturer or the jobber, and that is that neither the jobber nor the retailer is a buyer but a seller. While they do buy, they do so only in order to sell again and at a profit. We have seen that the slow moving goods eat into anticipated profits every day they remain upon the shelves. We have seen that the quick sellers that bring back the original invest-ment plus a profit in a short time, to be reinvested so that the performance may be repeated, are the goods that are in high favor. But we should also learn the equally important lesson that if the retailer is overstocked with even the quick sellers, that there will be a portion of the goods that will of necessity stay on the shelves a long time, and so by the act of overstocking the retailer on these quick sellers, there is the same vice attached to the transaction that obtains in the case of the slow sellers.
There is nothing more earnestly to be guarded against than the tendency to overstock the trade. This applies equally to the manufacturer in his sales to the jobber, as it does to the jobber in his sales to his trade. The alert sales manager of both manufacturer and jobber should have the courage to suggest to his customer who has fallen a victim to the super-enthusiasm of the salesman and placed an order larger than he should have done that it might be the part of prudence to have a portion of the order shipped at once, and to hold the balance until the first installment had begun to move. This is not showing any doubt as to the merits of the goods nor the fact that they may not meet with a satisfactory resale, but it does show that the manufacturer or the jobber, as the case may be, is vitally interested in seeing, so far as he is able, that his trade is out in a position to make the much-desired quick turnover. It shows a desire to render a real sales service rather than to get the money and ship the goods and then let the trade hold the sack. It will make lasting friends among the trade. Of course this requires tact, but that is something that the sales manager is supposed to have and what his house pays him for.
This is so important—this rule that no jobber nor retailer shall be overstocked—and its violation so filled with the possibilities of disastrous effects on future business, that one large Chicago concern who actively co-operates with the jobber in working his retail trade, has brought out and continually emphasizes this slogan : "Don't over-stock any retailer, but stock every retailer." It drills this constantly into the minds of its own sales force and also into the minds of its jobbers' salesmen. The result of this has been to win the undying favor of the jobber and the retailer, and to secure a remarkably wide distribution of its product in quantities that practically insure quick sales of fresh stock, a factor that appeals to the trade as well as to the ultimate consumer.
Handicap of Limited Lines. As with the retail store of limited lines, so with the jobber. The adherence to the single class of merchandise makes it necessary for the jobber, in order to sustain his position as a leader in the line, to carry so wide a variety in that line that the majority of his retail customers find it impossible, especially in the smaller communities, to stock but a small portion. The inevitable result is bound to be that the jobber finds himself burdened with a miscellaneous assortment for which there is little or no demand, which compels him to make them "specials" and offer them at reduced prices so as to move them to make room for new stocks.
Even intensive selling methods on the part of the retailers often fail to clean out limited lines. Jobbers' salesmen may carry and even set up the manufacturers' advertising and display matter, but there are certain natural limitations that stand firmly in the way of quick sales. People eat only so much; wear only so much; paint a house or a barn only so often ; even buy a car only so often, and with fixed incomes, when extraordinary purchases are made, they are usually at the expense of other merchandise, the acquisition of which is necessarily delayed.
The predominant fact stands, out clean and bold, that the jobbing of a limited line of goods the needs of the community, for the jobber, like the retailer, is the servant of the people and the provider of their recurring necessities. Some of these wants must be filled daily, while others are few and far between, and of such, purchases once made cannot reasonably be expected to be repeated for a considerable period of time. The problem in successful merchandising then be-comes that of supplying other merchandise to fill in between these infrequent sales, and thus create a steady flow of patronage to the retail merchants.
Jobber Should Lead in New Lines.—The job-ber has always been and doubtless will continue to be the pioneer in the introduction of new merchandise, new to the trade to which he caters. He first senses the probable attitude of the public towards new goods. He figures out in advance whether a certain line might be profitably handled by his trade, for he knows that unless that can be the case, the line will be a failure with him. Once having made up his mind, he backs his own judgment with an order on the manufacturer and then sets himself to the task of not only placing the lines with his trade, but assisting them in selling the goods to the public.
The retailers have come to look upon the judgment of the jobber as good, and are more and more ready to follow his lead. They know that he has greater opportunities to sense the appeal any line will probably make to the public; that he is possessed of broader vision; that he has the wider outlook, and so they are generally willing to accept his judgment to the extent of a trial order.
New Lines and More Business. Every consideration points to the advantages of expanded lines of merchandise both from the jobbing and the retailing side. The jobber, no matter how few his lines, maintains his own selling organization, sufficient in numbers to cover his terri-tory as often as the class of trade he serves re-quires. If he has but two or three customers in as town, that town must be "made" at stated intervals, just the same as the larger towns and cities where there are many more, else those two or three will withdraw their trade and give it to the jobber whose men will call regularly and keep their stocks supplied.
It should be borne in mind that where the job-ber is selling all the merchants in a town handling his lines, there is no other way of doing more business therein except to take on other lines not previously carried and go out and open up new accounts.
In such a move there are two opportunities for more trade. He stands a good chance of inducing some, at least, of his present customers to take on the new goods, especially if they were selected with reference to their adaptability to the lines already carried by his customers, and which they should be, and then there are the other, stores where his new lines constitute their main lines, and with those he should be in a position to meet the competition of other jobbers from whom they have been buying.
The objection might be made that as to these new lines, it is very much like starting a business all over again. Not at all. There is the house with its standing in the trade, its sales organization at practically no added expense, and all backed and fortified by the assurance of the income to be derived from the steady sales of the old lines.
More Calls—More Business.—No man in the selling game will deny the assertion that the more calls one makes the more sales will be the response to the effort. But this presupposes the carrying of lines that should make an appeal to the trade that is being called upon. Not even a star salesman could make anything of a record selling coffins to the general trade. His opportunities are limited to the number of undertakers in his territory. But with a line that is generally carried, the rule holds true that the more calls, the more sales. Nothing breaks the heart and spirit of even the best salesmen like being turned down, call after call. Nothing succeeds like suc cess, and nothing gives a salesman more courage, energy—we call it "pep" now—to go after business than a sheaf of orders as the reward of a hard day's work.
One of the largest manufacturing concerns in the country, owning and operating a chain of factories, as well as their own distributing houses in most of the larger cities, so that they havé practically become their own jobbers, have been for years calling upon the retail drug stores. Their line was highly specialized, and it soon be-came apparent to both the house and the sales-men that their own lines were too limited to make it possible, even with the most persistent and aggressive sales effort, for their men to secure either frequent or large enough orders to make this branch of their work profitable to the house or the salesmen. It sort of takes the energy out of a salesman to make call after call, and only be able to secure small, trifling orders, when he looks about the store and sees all the other lines of goods the retailer carries, and feel that if he only could offer some of them, he might be able to send in a decent lot of business as the reward of a day's toil.
This progressive manufacturing concern did exactly what would have been expected of them. Instead of sitting down and bemoaning the fact that their lines were not broader, and reminding themselves and their men that they were engaged in the manufacture and sale of a certain class of merchandise, they added a line of whisk brooms, then a full line of combs and brushes and other toilet articles, first separate pieces and later full sets, following those with stationery and last a line of playing cards.
These were all lines that the modern retail drug stores were carrying, and it did not seem beneath the dignity of this great institution that they should engage in the jobbing business in those lines. They saw that to carry these added lines would result in largely increased orders from nearly every call, after a while, if not at first. It gave them the decided advantage in this, that if the retail druggist called upon was well stocked with lines similar to those that they manufactured, their men were able to sell him some of the other lines, and thus convert what would otherwise have been an unprofitable call into a profitable one. In this way they were able to open up thousands of new accounts and to make their calls upon the retail druggists exceedingly profitable to both the house and the salesmen.
This tendency in modern merchandising towards the removal of class and distinction in the various lines handled both at wholesale and retail, is borne of the fact that merchandising must be made to conform to the basis of what will enable them to render the public a better service in the supplying of current needs. That this also tends to increase the profits of those who are broadminded enough to follow it, does not compromise the ethics of the modern conception of merchandising, but rather confirms it, for the law has been handed down from antiquity that he is greatest who serves best. That is the Golden Rule of merchandising, and its rewards are as sure and as unfailing as the law of gravitation. Many big business men have discovered this.
Reduction of Selling Costs.—It has already been shown that the adherence to limited lines of merchandise, both from the jobbing and the re-tailing standpoints, tends to increased costs in doing business, which are of necessity reflected in the retail price which the ultimate consumer must pay.
The converse is equally true that every added line reduces proportionately those costs, according to the relative volume of their sales.
The greatest single item of sales expense on the part of the jobber is the maintenance of his selling force in the field, with their railway fares, their hotel bills, their salary or commission and the inevitable incidentals that burrow into the weekly expense account. Except in the single instance of commissions, these expenses are not varied as between the successful salesman and the one who just plods along, managing to keep his head above water and that is all.
It should be borne in mind, by the student of merchandising, that in the jobbing field, it costs just as much railroad fare to take the salesman with his limited lines of goods to a town where he can make but two or three sales, as it does to carry the other salesman with his broad lines who will probably call on from one to two dozen retailers, and with a fair prospect of selling the majority of them at least.
Just compare the proportion of railroad fares charged against the sales in these two cases. Iii the case of the man making but the two or three sales, this one element in sales cost is from four to six times higher than in the case of the other salesman with his dozen or eighteen orders.
What is true of the effect of railroad fares on sales cost is true of all the other items of expense in maintaining a sales force in the field, and it can readily be seen how this is bound to influence the final retail price of the goods.
With the broader lines, the salesman's time in a city or town is fully taken up between trains and consequently becomes more productive. It is discouraging for a salesman to have to sit by and see the others who came in with him on the same train going from store to store, using up page after page in their Order books, while he has had only a few occasions even to take it out of his pocket. The morale of the sales force, like that of any fighting force must be kept up, or the organization will go to pieces.
Same Sales Force Sufficient. The instances are few and far between where salesmen cannot take on added lines and do justice to them all. If they are paid a commission or even a bonus on aggregate sales over a certain total, there will be an instant response to the new opportunities for boosting the average and collecting the bonus. Even in the case of the salaried man, his aspirations to graduate from the road to a snug executive berth, will find increased opportunities for realization. There are not many of us who are in reality badly overworked. Give us the incentive, and we will take on the extra task like a glutton. Today, as never before in the nation's history, there is the call for men who will work and not "soldier on the job. The man who will bend all his energies to his task will become so conspicuous that he will soon single himself out for the earliest advancement in the house.
Why Salesmen Take Side Lines. We all know that there is nothing so hard to do as to do nothing. Every salesman worthy of the name will subscribe to that statement. To the energetic salesman, the enforced periods of inactivity from Saturday noon to Monday morning are dreary times, especially if they are spent away from home. So are the hours that must be spent in en-forced idleness waiting for the next train, when he has completed all possible calls in town. The real salesman is a perpetual motion machine and he wants to be "on the job" day in and day out. But if his house carries a line that takes less than his full time, he is very apt to be on the look-out for "side lines."
He knows if he could sell more, he could make more, and if his house will not give him the opportunity, he will seek it elsewhere. He may not want to sever connections, but as he knows the territory, he would welcome the handling of some other line that will not interfere with his regular one—at least that is the way he looks at it.
He finally picks out a few lines that are not over-represented, and it does not take him long to make a connection. He does not have any bulky sample case to carry. His samples may fit nicely in his pocket. He figures he can make quick calls and short sales talks and get the business, and so he goes at it.
It is an old saying, and a true one, that "nu man can serve two masters." That is why so many manufacturers and jobbers are not willing that their men should take on "side lines." But it is being done all the time—sub-rosa, if necessary. The compelling factor is to be found in the houses that send these men out with insufficient lines to take their entire time in concentrated sales effort in their own behalf.
If the house would only take on these lines and give them to their men, nine times out of ten, they would turn in a larger volume of business than is humanly possible, owing to human frailty, if the men were drawing their compensation from two or more concerns.
An instance of this has just come to light through an advertisement in the Sunday papers in a number of prominent cities. In the middle west there is a certain manufacturer whose goods are sold by their own sales force to both the retailer as well as the jobber. These lines are limited, and are carried by about four or five classes of retailers. They acknowledge that they are not sufficiently broad to keep their men continually at work every day and all day. So, rather than have their men individually subject to the temptation of taking on side lines, this concern has advertised for other lines that their sales force can sell, and that will fit in with their own lines, going to their own trade as well as other trade in the same locali-ties, and offered either to place large orders for any acceptable merchandise or to contract for all or a portion of the factory output. In this way the sales force will be kept working for the house, and will be receiving just as much added compensation as though they made their own connections with other lines. This instance is a direct recognition of the very principles that have been here urged and the basis is both sound and economic-ally right.
Out of this situation comes a message to all salesmen whose lines are not sufficiently broad to take their entire time. It is this: Don't take on side lines, but go to your house and lay the facts before them, and urge that they take on the added lines, and give you the opportunity of fighting under their own banner for the larger volume of business you know such added lines would produce. They will recognize your spirit of loyalty even if they do not follow the suggestion.
As has been said, "broad lines of merchandise are the mortar that binds the bricks of business together and makes a wall impregnable against all assaults."
Broad Lines Hold Trade. It is a comparatively easy matter to open up a new account, but it is quite another thing to hold it. Holding trade means reorders, one after another. It means the successful resistance to the efforts of competitors to take it away and get their line in.
A wedge is sharp and narrow where it enters, but then it begins to widen out. So it is with merchandise in the hands of the jobber. There is always some entering wedge, the some one article that should find a place in the retail line that constitutes the first order. The more varied the line, the more wedges the salesman has to try, and the more of other goods to follow it up with, until the lines are quite well represented. But with the house of limited lines, the wedge is very thin and has but little chance of ever widening enough to make any respectable, showing on the retailer's shelves.
Let the retailer come to know the salesman as representing a house of strictly limited lines, and how frequently will he snap out, "Nothing in your line today" and turn back to what he was doing. Possibly persistent, tactful salesmanship may extract an order, but there is not the opportunity for the close and cordial relations that exist in the case of the salesman from the broad line house.
With the latter, the retailer knows that he de-pends upon that house for many of his goods, and the salesman is too important a factor in his own business to be brushed aside with the state-ment of "nothing in your line today." This sales-man has a score of opportunities to start the ball of buying rolling. And it is a well known fact among salesmen that if the customer can only be brought to order even a single article, many others can be brought to mind that will follow, until the lines on the order book justify their being there. This is the kind of a salesman who sits down with his customer and goes over the stocks, telling him all about the new goods, market conditions, what variations there may be in price, what goods will be hard to get a little later, and ther is a sense of dependence upon the sales-man on the part of the retailer that is entirely lacking in the man from the house of restricted lines of merchandise.
Broad Lines Mean Faster Growth.—Turn to the pages of the mercantile reports and study the ratings of the jobbers and wholesalers, and it will be found that those which handle the wider ranges of goods are the ones with the highest ratings.
Faster growth in business, especially in wholesaling and retailing, means greater opportunities to serve the public in supplying their every want.
No concern is ever born full grown. It starts in a humble way. But it lays its foundations deep on the solid bed rock of sound economic principles. It is committed to service in merchandising and it selects those lines that will make the widest appeal to the classes of trade it proposes to reach. It will not be hidebound by old ideas and traditions of the generations past.
What would have become of the wholesale druggists if they had kept in the rut of the past. Today the old fashioned drug store is practically a thing of the past. In its place has grown up cheery, attractive stores that carry a wonderful range of goods, until the selling of drugs and medicines has become the smallest part of its business. The druggist did not bring about this of himself. The expansion had its inceptipn in the wholesale houses that saw the opportunity for more business and more profits in the broader lines of goods, and so they stocked those goods and induced the druggists to put them in. In all lines of retailing there is evident that same breaking away from tradition, and expansion, and it has come from the jobbers with their broader vision.
MODERN MERCHANDISING - SCOPE OF EXPANDING LINES
Never Mind Competitors.—The poorest guide is often one's competitors. The only safe rule is not to follow them when their plans and policies do not square with one's conviction as to what is the best thing to be done. In the game of merchandising, measure every act, every new policy, by the standard of a greater service to the community. This holds true whether the business be that of jobbing or retailing.
Particularly among retailers there still lurks in the background a hesitation to take on lines that some business friend and neighbor carries, and who is not now a competitor, but who would by that act of his become one, for the fear that such a course would set up a destructive rivalry and blast the friendship of years and eventually land him nowhere. But the stranger merchant who moves into the new store just across the street is moved by no such motives. He is out for business and is not concerned with who carries similar goods to his own. He is only concerned that his stock shall be complete and shall tempt to enter and trade with him every man, woman and child in the community.
No one in business has any letters patent on the trade in any city or town or section thereof, and the field is open and the only entrance fee is a desire to meet the requirements of those who live round about.
In the Grocery Trade.-Primarily, the grocery business has been and is charged with providing the public with foodstuffs. This done, first the jobber and then the retailer, conscious of the many other needs of the communities which they serve, and seeking the added business that they represent, puts in a line of cigars, cigarettes, tobaccos and pipes. Then comes candy, beginning with the pail goods and gradually expanding to the finer lines of box goods.
Because the housewife uses brooms, dust pans, whisk brooms and the like, there is no good rea-son why she should have to go to some other store, when she has finished buying her provisions, and so in they go.
Soaps and washing powders are surely not edibles, but they are now a standard part of all grocery stocks.
In some sections of the country the trade is handling such labor saving devices as carpet sweepers, vacuum cleaners, and even washing machines.
In still other sections for the convenience of the public, small notions find their place in the stocks, such as thread, needles, darning cotton, braid, some pearl and bone buttons and the like, often displayed in assortments in glass-covered cabinets.
Nor are the men entirely forgotten in this expansion of the lines. Today in most grocery stores work gloves are carried, and in the country the lines are found to include overalls, hats, caps, mittens, lanterns, cutlery, seeds, farm and garden tools, stock and poultry foods and remedies.
Among the jobbers in the grocery trade, especially where they reach the general stores scattered in the small villages, we find automobile tires and a few accessories in the line, and the growing use of farm tractors should add accessories suited for their purposes.
Stationery is a very common line, both among the jobbers and the retailers, and pens and pencils, even fountain pens are making their appearance.
As the country trade is more varied than city trade, in the extent of the lines carried, we find the jobbers are selling milk bottles, cream separa-tors, glassware and crockery.
Looking to the future, cooking uteisils should find their place, both among the jobbers and the retailers. Indeed, today, many city grocers are showing lines of coffee percolators, and using them as a means of increasing their coffee sales.
In the Hardware Trade.--Here the jobbers have been fully as progressive as any in leading the movement away from narrow to expanding lines. To the credit of the retail trade be it said that they have supported the action of the jobbers.
In addition to their well recognized lines, we find the trade is handling cooking utensils until they are the largest distributors in the country. This alone is a very broad field as it includes articles of iron, steel, tin, enamel and aluminum, glass having of late made its appearance in the form of cooking and baking dishes.
Household utilities have also become one of the main lines today, extending from wash tubs of wood and metal and rubbing boards to the most up-to-date self-heating and electrically operated washing machines, ironers, machine and hand, wringers, boilers and the like.
Vacuum cleaners, electrical appliances, such as toasters, percolators, reading lamps, lighting fixtures, laundry, kitchen and heating stoves, ranges and furnaces find their place in these modern service stores.
Plated silverware is beginning to be shown, along with cut glass, ordinary glassware, table and pocket cutlery, carving and game sets.
The lines have entered into the sports, and fishing tackle, guns and sporting goods all have their place. With these are shown bicycles, even motorcycles, auto accessories, along with some horse and carriage goods to mark the rise and decline of our means of conveyance.
Trunks and hand baggage, luncheon sets and, travelers' sets, vacuum bottles, all these show the thought for the comfort and convenience of the traveler.
Mention must be made of farm and garden tools and implements, for they constitute an extensive line in the hardware trade.
And who does not sell phonographs today? Surely not the hardware store? Yes it does. Even nails are weighed to the accompaniment of the latest song hits. And why not phonographs? There seems to be no reason, save that they never were sold in such places before. But that is just another evidence of the fact that this study of modern merchandising seeks to bring out, and that is that the only guide as to what a modern store may successfully carry is what the public demands. It brings out strikingly that the old order is passing away, and that each storekeeper is reaching out for the trade, with but little regard for what was formerly supposed to constitute his line. The line has faded until it is almost lost in the broadest kind of service that facilitates buying.
In the Drug Trade.—The record of emancipation from limited lines of merchandise would be incomplete if the drug trade was not accorded one of the places of honor. As has already been intimated, the credit for this really belongs to the jobbing trade, which in most instances has been the father of all of the onward movements in modern merchandising.
Recall the mental picture of the old-time drug store, if you can, for it lingers only there. You see a community necessity, uninviting, sombre, one that takes its tolls from sickness and disease.
People went there because they had to—because they had a prescription to be filled or some medicines to buy, and rarely otherwise. This meant occasional trade.
But necessity gave this store long hours, knowing no difference in any of the days of the week, not even Sunday. The jobber saw in this a wonderful opportunity, that of catering to the wants of the well besides those of the sick, and with that a greater outlet for merchandise both for himself as well as his customers, the druggists.
So the jobber began his campaign of education.
He showed the druggist that the men who came in for a bottle of medicine or to have a prescription filled, would buy a cigar while they were waiting. He induced the druggist to put in cigars and he gave him good ones. The men noticed the innovation and bought, and because the cigars were good and were conveniently placed near the door, the men fell into the habit of dropping in when they wanted other good smokes.
Encouraged, the jobber said, "Put in a line of candies for the women and children," and in they went, until the drug stores are today among the largest sellers of fine box candies that we have.
With the coming of the soda fountains and manufactured ice cream, another line opened its portals to both jobber and druggist. In swift suc-cession came stationery, brushes, combs, toilet and dental preparations almost without limit.
Fountain pens were added, likewise cutlery in limited lines, razors, both ordinary and safety, with the accompaniment of strops, shaving soaps, creams, powders, brushes, manicure sets, toilet waters and perfumes, rubber goods in endless variety. Vacuum bottles, thermometers, even a line of optical goods were added. Then toys that brought the children as well as their parents, to the store.
In many drug stores, especially in the cities, dainty lunches served at the soda fountain or at the small ice cream tables tempted the shopper and gave opportunity to think of some forgotten purchase.
It was no child's play to break down the reserve of the old-fashioned druggist who considered himself first and last a professional man, and who looked askance on the suggestion that he should ever lower himself by "going into trade" as our English cousins put it. But persistence on the part of the jobber brought it all about, and now the modern drug store is a variety depart-ment store with a drug annex. And who would go back to the old order of things? Not one.
If no other examples of the trend towards broader lines in modern merchandising were given this study of the retail drug trade as it is today, would be sufficient to point the path to more business in every line by the application of similar methods.
In the Dry Goods Trade. The dry goods jobber stands as one of the great examples of the advantages of handling a broad and varied assort-ment of goods, and completes the quartet of those who have done the most to bring into being the modern conception of the true function and aim of selling goods.
In both the jobbing and the retail field the main lines are so well known and at the same time so varied that they need not be mentioned. What we are interested in noting is the broadening influence they have had on the retail trade. We find the jobber handling china, silverware, cut glass, jewelry, watches, clocks, cutlery, toilet articles, cosmetics, razors, strops, brushes, soaps, games, toys, furniture for home, office, porch and lawn, stationery, cameras and photographic supplies, rugs, carpets, linoleums, housefurnishing goods of all descriptions, carpet and vacuum cleaners, washing machines, electrical goods, fire-less cookers, stoves, ranges, sewing machines, shoes, rubbers, clothing for all ages and both sexes, hats and millinery, sporting goods, bicycles, motorcycles, automobile tires and accessories, phonographs and records, musical instruments, pianos, books, pictures, the smaller farm and garden tools and implements, certain hardware lines, paints, varnishes, notions, and what-ever else has escaped listing, as it would seem.
It is needless to say that the dry goods jobber goes outside of his strict field in the selling of this wondrous array of goods. His lines are so varied that there is scarcely a retail line that he does not touch and number many among his customers.
Yet each dry goods store that comes within the limits of his territory, comes also under. the influence of the gospel of broader and yet broader lines of merchandise, and the result is seen wherever his salesmen take their orders.
It is in the larger dry goods stores—the department stores—that the idea of convenience in buying is worked out to the last degree. In them one may buy almost anything that is made anywhere on this round world of ours. Each department is a separate store in itself, with its own complete stocks, and separated not by walls but only by aisles, and all under one general, efficient supervision and management, where overhead is reduced to the minimum, save as there are all of the extra services, such as rest rooms, play rooms for the children, waiting rooms, writing rooms, mail, telegraph, telephone and express facilities, even concert halls, which have to be paid for, and in the price of each article sold. There must be a limit to such lavish expenditures of money for these conveniences which, while they do add to the attractiveness of a store, fail to make the merchandise worth any more or any better. Then there are the extensive delivery systems covering not only an entire city, but stretching out into the suburbs and the surrounding country.
When the management of these great stores has been questioned as to why these lavish expenditures in connection with the conduct of the stores, the reply has invariably been that they are maintained because the public like them enough to trade where these things adorn the business of buying and selling. Their defense is that they are giving the public what it wants, and in that they are following the pathway to success, as their steady growth abundantly proves.
The dry goods stores, especially the large department stores, like the jobbers, do not depend entirely upon the trade that comes to them to do its buying in person, or even by phone. They issue elaborate mail order catalogs that rival those of the great mail order houses, and with whom they compete for the country trade. They maintain their contract departments that are constantly seeking to furnish hotels, clubs and other buildings. They are ever on the alert and with their wonderful assortment of merchandise, they are able to make a strong appeal to all who have money to spend and who are not insensible to the good things of life, as well as the beautiful.
What has been said of the large stores, has its application to the smaller ones. The very same "principles that have made for the growth of the big ones will lift the smaller ones to fill larger places in the world of business and service, The same mails are open to their use and the same appeals can be made to those who live within convenient distances from the store.
In the Jewelry Trade. Here, as in some of the other lines, both the jobbers and the retailers have not fully won their emancipation, but are making definite progress. The jewelry store has been the store of the occasional purchase, the store that usually has to wait until the public has been provided with its necessities. In this it has not been unlike the old drug store, and its problem has been and still is how to make the public come in often. It has a decided advantage over the drug store, for a jewelry store is a place where people like to go. The very classes of goods attract, and people like to look at them, even if they cannot buy.
It has been this phase of the situation that has brought the jewelry stores to carry other lines of merchandise so that this passing trade might be turned in through their doorway. To this end, first the jobber and then the retailer, added the finer grades of stationery, with embssed monograms, crests or addresses, wedding and announcement cards. Then came delicate glass and stemware, service plates, hand painted china, curios, the smaller pieces of statuary.
The carrying of cameras and photographic supplies and the taking of orders for enlargements and developing made the stores enticing places to come for such lines, and the public began to discover that the prices were not higher than in other stores.
Leather goods, canes, umbrellas and parasols added to the range of selection for gifts or personal use. Toilet articles, singly and in sets, but usually of the better grades added further strength to the lines.
The plan has been to bring into the jewelry store those articles less expensive than the regular line, and in more frequent and ordinary use, so that the customers might come oftener, and coming, buy something, even if only a little.
In the Book and Stationery Trade.—Here we seem to come more quickly to limitations in expansion, but on closer examination, there is ample room for the application of the same principles urged for the other lines of 'merchandising. Any law, to be worthy of the name, must work all of the time and not part of the time. It must be counted on to give certain results under certain conditions and not only once in a while. There-fore this law of merchandising we have been studying must be uniform in its application.
In this trade, both jobber and retailer are found carrying fountain pens, safety razors, cameras and photographic goods, leather goods, toys in a wide variety, sporting goods of all kinds, cigars, candy and in growing numbers branching out into office supplies and equipment, including furniture. These stores are sending their salesmen to the various business offices soliciting orders and making deliveries, all with the aim of making purchases easy and without the necessity of absence from their respective places of business. It is the outreach for more trade with ease in buying that is winning for these stores and for the jobbers.
In the Hat and Millinery Trades.—Here the march of progress has been delayed, although the opportunities are waiting. The fault is both that of the jobber and of the retailer. Perhaps the changing styles with each season may have some-thing to do with it, but that should not be a stumbling block.
Many more men go with their wives when they buy their millinery than they did formerly, while it is a very common thing for wives to go with their husbands when they buy their hats. Why then should not the two lines be consolidated in the same store? The answer is that they are. Not a few of the larger men's hat stores now carry millinery. The same door is open to the smaller stores.
Whether these two lines ever merge or not, each has the opportunity to expand the lines. Let the jobbers add gloves, umbrellas, parasols, neckwear for both sexes, inexpensive jewelry items, such as scarf pins, cuff buttons and links, shirt studs, watch and knife chains for the men and hair ornaments, hat pins, veils, boudoir caps for the women, and without even increasing the number of customers coming into the stores, the volume of sales would show a healthy increase.
In the Clothing Trade. The contagion of broader lines has also reached the clothing trades for both men and women. Shoes for each sex are carried, and lines of hosiery are added. Rather complete lines of the less costly jewelry are to be found, especially for men. Traveling bags and sets, toilet articles, shaving requisites, leather goods, including hand bags and shopping bags in the stores for women, sporting goods, such as fishing tackle, tennis rackets, golf clubs and even auto accessories. In other words, in the men's store, every article of wear for all occasions and all of the equipment for sport and recreation are at the hands of the customers. In the stores for women, like extensive lines, but only in woman's sphere are found.
There is a growing tendency to consolidate these stores for men's and women's clothing, and the beginnings are seen in the additions from time to time of articles for both the sexes. There is no reason why they should no be combined, and every reason why they should.
In the Cigar Trade.—This is a man's proposition both at wholesale and retail and it has been passing through its own evolution along with all other lines of merchandising. First the jobbers and then the retailers saw beyond the strict lines that formerly marked the trade, and discovered sales possibilities in chewing gum and candy as cigar store lines. They saw what the drug stores were doing with the soda fountain trade, and they proceeded to get their share of it, so in went the fountains, and along with them. came the light lunches, mostly of the salad, sandwich and pie order, moistened either with coffee or some of the fountain drinks.
Current magazines, papers, stationery, cameras, photo supplies, safety razors, pocket cutlery, scarf pins, cuff buttons and links, and generally the smaller articles that make their appeal to men are finding their way into the cigar stores, and the resultant profits into the cash registers of their owners.
In the Other Lines.--Everywhere the leaven of a broader merchandising service is working. Each line is reaching out for new avenues down which the dollars may roll into the cash drawer, and out along which may go goods that yield their full money's worth in satisfaction.
The same record of development, of a breaking away from the old-time conception of the limits beyond which no one line, especially at retail, could go, is to be found on every hand.
Wherever men and women, boys and girls, gather to buy, there are other things than those carried in stock at the time that might be added, and if they only were on hand, there would be no necessity of any waiting for the coming of the new era.
Look upon merchandising as a service to man-kind and be prepared to render the broadest, the most comprehensive service possible, and the rewards in the form of profits from cheerful pur-chases will come in abundant measure.