Get Ready for the Holiday 2005 Sales Season
Facilitated largely by the Internet, consumers have been ordering gifts later in the holiday season. Indeed, 20 percent of consumers reported they started their online shopping later in 2004 than in 2003, according to the 2004 Shop.org/BizRate.com Online Holiday Mood Study.
Shop.org also reported that 46 percent of online retailers offered express shipping promotions the week of Dec. 19, no doubt adding more pressure to their already full holiday workloads.
These trends can cause some rather drastic spikes and accompanying problems in any catalog business. During the past several years, we’ve heard horror stories of poorly planned operations resulting in excessive order backlogs, unfulfilled promises to customers, unmet expectations and higher than expected costs. Some of these miscues nearly put successful companies out of business. Many, but not all, of these problems can be minimized or eliminated with early planning, especially in your distribution center.
Smart marketers start preparing for the next holiday immediately after the prior year’s holiday celebrations have passed. Here’s a four-step strategy to help you get a jump on the holiday 2005 season.
Step #1: Assess Results, Gather Data
Review the overall past selling season for key issues or concerns to be addressed before this year’s holiday selling season arrives. Answer the following questions:
* How were overall season sales?
* When were the peak sales times?
* Were there any shifts in ordering patterns?
Examine any customer service issues from last holiday, and correct problematic areas.
* How fast were orders turned around?
* How did order accuracy compare to expectations?
* Did receiving keep pace with shipping?
Next, get as much information as possible about the upcoming season from your marketing and merchandising personnel. Many warehouse problems during the holiday result from a less-than-effective partnership between operations and marketing/merchandising. Among the areas to discuss:
* projected order volume by week;
* number of active SKUs;
* expected arrival dates for purchase orders in your warehouse;
* any changes to product mix;
* any special programs or offerings being planned; and
* planned inventory levels.