How Small Business Retailers Can Best Position Themselves During the Holiday Shopping Season
Over the past few years, the holiday shopping season has crept up earlier and earlier as retailers look to generate additional revenue and target early shoppers. However, this year may prove to be a challenge for small businesses due to a plethora of factors including inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and changes in consumer buying behavior — which will impact how and when consumers begin purchasing their gifts, as well as how much they’re planning to spend. Without question, this time of year is a huge revenue generator for small businesses. Not being adequately prepared for changes in consumer purchasing patterns and supply chain delays may prove to be costly, especially in the current macroeconomic environment.
Optimize Inventory Planning
At this point, most retailers have likely already ordered inventory to prep for holiday shoppers or thought about how they’re planning to manage excess or lack of inventory when aiming to avoid the supply chain constraints that impacted goods over the past few years. Some small businesses, like Southern Grit, an online-only boutique specializing in women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories, have taken a different approach to planning for potential supply chain disruption this year. Due to astronomically high shipping prices, rather than ordering products as early as the summer months, Southern Grit has opted to drop-ship certain products directly from the manufacturer to the customer. This strategy allows retailers to keep shipping costs down and inventory efficiently managed while reducing the amount of needed labor.
Maintain a Unique Small Business Identity
Creating a deliberate inventory plan is not the only way to prep for this holiday season. It’s essential for small business owners to begin ideating marketing and sales tactics to attract new consumers, garner additional revenue, maintain their unique small business identity, and deliver impactful customer experiences through personalized tactics. Retailers that allocate time and money and leverage customer data are best positioned to provide personalized experiences that are uniquely relevant to their customers.
This is especially important for stores with an online-only presence, as the resurgence of brick-and-mortar shopping may cause a dip in sales for this sector. To offset these pain points, small e-commerce business owners must think creatively about how to attract consumers to their online store and encourage repeat customers. For clothing retailers, this may include promoting products differently online, such as filming live try-on videos on social media, using moving models as opposed to generic still photography, or using artificial intelligence to replicate an in-store feel. Online-only businesses need to attempt to replicate the in-store experience as much as possible in order to keep up with brick-and-mortar competition.
Lean Into Technology
Small businesses are oftentimes more reliant on technology to help automate tasks and manage inventory during the holiday season given there's usually an influx in sales. One technology that can help automate tasks is utilizing cloud-based accounting software like Xero. This type of software allows small business owners to manage their bottom line better and run their stores more efficiently. The software helps businesses sync bank and financial information, monitor cash flow, and automate tasks such as sending invoice reminders, which grants small business owners more time for meeting customer expectations during this volatile period.
Another unpredictable holiday season is underway, but small business retailers who appropriately prepare their inventory, invest in the right technology, and don't lost sight of their unique business identity will be best positioned to tackle this holiday shopping season.
Velvet Mills is the owner of Southern Grit, an online retailer of women's westernboho apparel/clothing, shoes, and accessories.
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