A simple method of maintaining a record of quotations and purchases, and facilitating the taking of stock, is given by W. E. Miles.
Want cards save time, maintain a record of quotations and purchases, show the quantity of goods bought and the profit made from them any period, and save time in taking stock.
There is a card for every article. As shown in Figure I, "Lye, Lewis, case 4-doz., weight 42 lbs.," would head the card for Lewis Lye. Space is allowed for the jobber's quotations, the date of purchase, quantity bought, price paid, retail price and profits, all on one line.
The cards are arranged alphabetically. When an article is out or wanted the card is placed in front of the "Wants" guide card. The buyer runs over his want cards every day, and each card shows him at a glance quotations, what he has paid, how much he has sold, and the profit made. This record may be kept for years. Different brands of an article can be quickly compared for selling and profit-earning qualities.
The want cards form a complete catalogue of stock, and in taking stock, save the time of writing out the articles and prices. The date, quantity on hand and extension may be written in red ink, and this stands for the inventory. The profits on each article for the year can be quickly added.
A want card can be made out as quickly as the item can be entered in a want book, and when once written it is good for ten, twenty, or as many orders as the card is made to accommodate.
The want card is the official price maker. If a clerk is in doubt about the selling price of an article, he finds it quickly on the want card.
The greatest value of the want card is the story it tells about profits. The buyer has all the actual facts before him; he knows how every article sells, and how much profit each earns. He quickly learns the brands to push and the brands to throw out, and what to clean up. In fact, the want card places a merchant's business at his fingertips and saves him time over every other system.
While this system is a good thing for the buyer, it will be a better thing for the manufacturer. Suppose that instead of catalogues and trade journal advertising a manufacturer should send out to a list of retailers, selected from the books of mercantile agencies, these cards, a card for each item. The retailer would at once incorporate the cards in his system, and the complete data concerning his product are constantly under the fingertips of the buyers.
Suppose that a man has a good list of grocers. He would sell them the blank card forms, with cases, and solicit advertising from the manufacturers. The grocers would want cases and blank forms to go with the manufacturers' cards, and the manufacturers would want to use cards in order to have their advertising matter incorporated in the buyers' index-card system, as shown in Figure II.
Many manufacturers and jobbers give retailers want books, and the cards could be sold for the same purpose, the name or product being advertised on each card.
This system gives the buyer a uniform catalogue, and at the same time, by the use of color, cuts and artistic typography, the manufacturer can make his advertising more distinctive than it is possible in trade journals. If manufacturer's cards were sent out periodically, postage, express charges and printing costs would be reduced, and manufacturers and jobbers could be induced to send their changes, special information and quotations on cards.