When we talk about the actions retailers should take in the summer, we are really talking about what should occur when the business is in its low-peak months. For the Northern Hemisphere, this is in the summer when people are out and about enjoying the sun with the festive season still months away. For the Southern Hemisphere, the down months are in the winter, half a year from Christmas when it is cold and people want to stay indoors.
Regardless of when this period is, it is important to use the low-peak months to plan for the busy period so that the company and the staff come out the other side stronger. So, what actions should be taken in the quiet months to prepare for the impending busy period?
Organise, Clean, Restock
When you do a grocery shop, you clean out the fridge so that anything you put back into it is fresh. It would be counter-productive to simply stack the fresh ingredients in front of the old ones, allowing them to spoil. So too should you clean out and sort the warehouse before you restock it and prepare it for the busy time. It is inevitable that inventory stock is put back in the wrong places or that the business hasn’t kept track of which goods are expiring soon, but it is essential to sort and organise inventory stock when the opportunity arises so that time is not wasted looking for things when the peak-season starts.
When you are in the middle of organising and throwing away excess inventory stock, take the opportunity to rearrange inventory stock into more logical areas and displays so to create more space in between stands. Open up the floor plan and encourage customers to move around. By moving inventory stock around, even if it is not new, seasoned customers will still feel it is fresh and they might even notice things they haven’t seen before.
Once things are organised, the entire warehouse must be cleaned from top to bottom. Employees benefit from a clean and safe work environment and customers will have a better shopping experience in a clean store.
Maintain the building
Use the down months to also fix or even repaint the place so that by the time business picks up, it looks fresh and inviting rather than aged and tired. This is as much a health and safety issue as it is about the appearance. These seemingly small, trivial details are extremely apparent to new customers therefore, you need to care just as much as they do.
Value your people
In the down months, allow yourself and your staff to recuperate. It is unsustainable to always be operating at maximum with no rest, and it will not be beneficial to anyone if you expect the same pace to be kept up all year round. It is also important to use the down time to plan for extra staff that might be required in the busy period. Start budgeting for them and possibly even advertising so that you have time to interview and choose people who will add value.
Running a successful business, amongst a myriad of other things, is about working smarter. This means preparing as much as possible when time allows and when it does not, then having systems in place to make the tough times easier. This also means identifying areas of difficulty and finding ways of improving them, while maximising on strengths and using these to your advantage.
If inventory management is a challenge to your business, particularly if your business is seasonal or unpredictable, then consider cloud-based inventory management software to manage your stock levels, track your products, make stock takes efficient and more!