My Journey Into the World of OTB (Part I)

Inventory Management Boot Camp

This month’s Shop Talk will be a 4 part mini-series focused on understanding the importance of planning and open-to-buy. Our newest team member, Sammy, will be walking through her experience of learning more about open-to-buy and the process of using it in your store.

Starting today you will be able to follow me (Sammy… hi!)  via Shop Talk (here) as I learn the magic of open-to-Buy. I recently attended a week of inventory management boot camp, and believe me, I thought, “What I have gotten myself into?”

Over the past couple of months, I have learned a lot more about open-to-buy (OTB as the groupies label it) and think I have a somewhat decent handle on it…going to “camp”, I had a feeling my lime green graphing calculator and I were in for a rude awakening, but then again, I had been wrong in the past.

The big question you are probably asking yourself is…”WHAT IS OPEN-TO-BUY?!”. I’m glad you asked…

An open-to-buy plan is an inventory management tool that helps you build a plan and figure out how much inventory you need to buy on a monthly basis to make your sales (in the retail world). It’s a guide for the amount of dollars you have to spend on merchandise.

Next question you have cued up…”Why does this matter to me?” (AKA your retail location)….

Great question.


  • OTB ties purchases to plans and performance and creates accountability and empowerment
  • OTB allows for real-time reaction to business and for you to make sound decisions on your feel
  • OTB makes you a proactive buyer vs. reactive buyer which is better for all parties involved

Last question… what did you do all week?

Answer: (besides cower in the corner with my calculator in floral pants and write about it to you guys?)…My goal was to become proficient in the math and formulas behind open-to-buy. It seems a bit cumbersome from the outside looking in but it can do totally awesome things for retailers and really change the name of the game. Open-to-buy has such a huge organizational component that really allows retailers to see monthly successes and struggles in addition to being able to see success made toward a long-term goal.

Have a question about how starting an open-to-buy plan for your new or existing retail location would help? Don’t be shy, email us.