How E-Tailers Can Prepare for Post-Christmas Sales and Exchanges
Retail sales don't slow down immediately after Dec. 25. On the contrary, the post-holiday shopping season is one of the busiest times for retailers. Shoppers are returning and exchanging gifts, and looking for good deals.
In today's omnichannel retail environment, returns, exchanges and post-holiday sales aren't limited to in-store. Many shoppers are taking advantage of post-holiday sales online, returning through the mail or a combination of those. This can be challenging for retailers, especially from an inventory and warehouse management perspective. Here are five tips to help retailers be successful this post-holiday season:
1. Plan for inventory adjustments. Retail inventory forecasting can be tricky, especially during the holidays and immediately after Christmas. It's difficult to strike a balance between offering a wide selection of SKUs and carrying an optimal volume of product.
At Dotcom Distribution, we recommend that retailers do a thorough inventory assessment after Christmas to determine whether they've ordered enough inventory across various product categories to accommodate post-holiday demand.
To find your current inventory levels, you may need to close your stores or warehouse, or count inventory after hours. Set clear expectations with your customers; if you won't be able to offer next-day delivery during this period, make sure to communicate that.
2. Prepare for new order volumes. If you've been successful this holiday season in capturing new customers by providing an exceptional experience, you can expect to see an uptick in sales growth over the long term. You should carve out time immediately after the holidays to forecast sales for the upcoming year, then adapt your strategy and processes accordingly. You may need to increase your order levels, invest in new equipment or ramp up hiring.
3. Look at holiday season gift card sales. Holiday gift card sales are a big indicator of post-holiday sales levels. Gift card purchases are on the upswing, according to the National Retail Federation. Last year, one-third of consumers purchased gift cards over the Black Friday weekend, and most gift card recipients redeem their cards in January, February and March. Retailers should track the number of gift cards sold in the fourth quarter and take that into account when determining forecasting and inventory levels post-Christmas.
Maria Haggerty is CEO and one of the original founders of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business with a concentration in Accounting. Maria plays an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the business, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. As CEO, she is responsible for providing strategic leadership, establishing long range goals, and developing strategies for the senior leadership team. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities while achieving favorable results. She works closely with the leadership team to enhance, develop, and enforce procedures that will improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the corporation. During her tenure at the Dotcom, Maria has developed an environment of continual improvement by supporting the Senior Leadership Team and their department managers on continuous process, space labor, automation, and financial best practices. Prior to founding Dotcom, Maria was a CPA at Arthur Andersen and was later the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video where she helped grow the company’s distribution business. When Maria is not in the office, she enjoys traveling around the world and practicing her photography skills.