5 Tips to Manage Holiday Inventory to Maximize Sales
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday already behind us, the online holiday retail season is in full swing. For retailers who are ready, it can mean racking up a significant percentage of the year's sales. In fact, online holiday sales growth is forecasted to be in the double-digits for the third year in a row, to the tune of $78 billion in 2013, according to Forrester Research. During November and December alone, retailers will capture one-third of their total sales for the year.
Are you prepared to make the most of this potentially very profitable season? Having the right marketing, packing, shipping and inventory tracking strategies in place is critical. To make sure you and your staff are ready to handle the holiday rush, check out these five tips, then make a list and check it twice:
1. Track the trends. If you can pull data from last year's sales, see when peak order times hit so that your inventory and staffing are sufficient to meet demand.
2. Take stock of your inventory. Take a time-out to forecast how much inventory you'll need and when you'll need it. Order extras from suppliers now and make sure you have space to store the additional products.
3. Streamline processes. Every step of filling orders, from tracking to packing to shipping, is an opportunity for processes to break down under the pressure of the holiday rush. Online, integrated systems can help you track your inventory, manage sales and ship products quickly and reliably. Search online for a solution that's right for you — it will be well worth the initial investment.
4. Don't lose sales due to out-of-stock items. A recent Emory University study found that almost 50 percent of intended purchases are lost when a consumer finds an item is out of stock. Don't let poor inventory management cost you money. Implement tools that will keep you organized and on top of your inventory quantities. Don't miss an opportunity to make a sale because you weren't thinking ahead.
5. Make a plan and stick to it. With so much at stake during such a short period of time, the holidays can be an extra-stressful season. Break big jobs (e.g., implementing inventory management software) into smaller, digestible tasks (e.g., start with search online for inventory management tools) and go from there. Although it's a busy time, it's important for staff morale and your sanity to keep stress in check.
These tips will help keep you organized and set you up to sell, pack and ship as many products as possible, and as quickly as possible, during this holiday season. Do your research, gather resources and find tools that will allow you to automate as much as possible so you can focus on marketing your great products. By the time the holiday rush winds down, you'll be saying, "Happy retailing to all, and to all a good night!"
Brandon Levey is the CEO and creator of Stitch Labs, which offers a cloud-based, real-time inventory and business management solution for retailers.