The holiday season is an exciting time for retailers, with shoppers swarming in ready to spend on gifts; B2B retailers can also experience a surge in demand. Retailers simply cannot rely on an increase in demand to produce sales and profit. A lot of planning goes into having a successful and efficient holiday season in retail, and in this article, we explore the top three things businesses need to consider in preparation for the holiday season. From inventory management to forecasting, retailers need to be fully prepared for the holiday season before, during and after. This is especially true of retailers selling through multiple channels.
1. Identify your “biggest” days
While it may seem easy enough to estimate that a whole period of time — perhaps months — will be busy, retailers should take the time to identify the specific dates that will likely be the busiest. Retailers can do this by looking at the sales patterns from previous years and identifying any consistent trends. It may be that for the past three years, sales have spiked in the three weeks leading up to Christmas and dropped off suddenly in the week after, only to pick up again after that.
By identifying exact timeframes of high demand, retailers can manage inventory flows accordingly. Digging deeper, inventory managers can look into exactly what products sold the best over that time frame, and ensure that, if appropriate, the warehouses and stores are well-stocked in that particular item.
Identifying the busiest days is also beneficial because it will allow retailer managers and inventory staff to schedule in ‘recovery’ days, where behind-the-scenes tasks such as stock counts can be done without too much interruption.
2. Identify which products to push through which channels
When a business sells through multiple channels, retail managers will often find that there are trends as to which particular products do best through each respective channel. For instance, a large retailer which sells everything from homewares to clothing may find that clothing sells best online, but cosmetics sell better in-store.
By identifying these patterns, retailers can ensure their marketing and advertisements is appropriate for the channel and product. Retailers can tailor advertising ad promotions to suit the channel, audience and product, to make the most of the busy period.
3. Use inventory software to sync inventory data across channels
For retailers selling across more than two channels such as a website and a physical store, good inventory management is key to success over the busy period. While demand is high across channels and the Christmas period keeps consumers busy purchasing, retailers need to ensure the inventory displaying on one channel is syncing with the inventory on another — and it also needs to sync with what is physically available in the warehouses.
To help with this, we suggest using cloud-based inventory management software that features barcode scanning. This technology will make the process of counting stock accurate and efficient, and the information from the warehouse will be available to you in real-time.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.