During the holidays, stores full of customers can bring a mixed of emotions. Training seasonal employees, making sure you don’t run out of inventory, and managing vendors can seem daunting. Preparing for holiday challenges now is one of the best ways to close more sales and optimize your selling strategy.
Follow this guide before the upcoming shopping season so you can spend less time in the back office and more time participating in the holiday cheer. We’re sharing some of the most common headaches we see retailers experience during the holidays so you don’t have to.
1. Vendor Management and Product Fulfillment
During the holiday season consumers have higher expectations than normal around receiving exactly what they want quickly. Also, we’ve seen an increase over the last few years in early shoppers getting a head-start on their lists to avoid the rush, so having a vendor and fulfillment plan is more important than ever.
Reflect on last holiday season and identify areas in your vendor management and fulfillment processes that could benefit from improvements this year.
It’s likely your vendors are in the middle of all the recent supply chain challenges. Whether you placed your orders months ago or are just getting to restocking before the holiday shopping begins, proper vendor management is necessary.
By storing all your vendor information in one place and connecting vendors with their products, you are more likely to have more meaningful communication throughout the robust holiday season. Additionally, look for opportunities to access discounts when purchasing large quantities and even switching between vendors during the season based on holiday promotions.
Shopventory’s inventory management platform allows you to assign a product to multiple vendors, making it easy to take advantage of great buying opportunities. Additionally, send purchase orders directly from Shopventory, centralizing your vendor management.
Anticipate Order Changes and Returns
In recent years, the holiday spending season has started earlier, meaning that order changes and returns are expected to follow this buying behavior and stretch over several months. If you have an e-commerce store, consider adding an order confirmation page to help online shoppers quickly catch mistakes, reducing the number of returns you have to process.
Make sure to review your return policy before the holidays and make it easily available to customers. If you use Shopventory’s inventory management platform, you can automatically restock on refunds for products that can be resold.
2. Getting your Inventory Ready for Holiday Sales
By now you should have created your holiday season product assortment strategy, placed orders, and determined your pricing strategy. However, that’s just the first step. It’s important to do some upfront work to streamline inventory management before the holiday shopping begins in order to maximize sales.
If you’re going to be a Scrooge about anything, make it about stock counts. Year-end figures can have implications come tax time and a messy, convoluted accounting of your inventory will make a tough process much tougher. Not to mention, incorrect stock counts during the holiday season can lead to out of stock items and a consumer spending money elsewhere.
Rather than relying on one end-of-year inventory count, cycle counting should be an ongoing process for any business, especially during the holiday season. We recommend using the ABC cycle counting method during the holidays to ensure you’re keeping track of your most popular and valuable products.
Investing in an inventory management system automates the cycle counting process and pushes any updates to all your sales channels and/or locations.
Automate Re-Ordering during the Holiday Season
During the holiday shopping season, products tend to move faster than you’re used to. Automating reordering is crucial to making sure you don’t have any out of stock items and staying on top of any potential shipping delays. With many shoppers affected by the current supply chain issues, you’re more likely to increase your order values and customer loyalty by consistently having products on the shelves.
Set minimum product quantities and custom low-stock order alerts in your inventory management system so you know exactly how much product to order and when to order it, eliminating the guessing game. Shopventory Professional and up plans also have access to stock forecasting reports so you have more visibility into consumer spending trends.
Sync In Store Orders and Online Purchases
There’s nothing worse than explaining to an online shopper that you couldn’t fulfill an order before the product sold out in store. Not only will you lose the holiday shopping sale but possibly a year-round customer.
Your goal is creating a unified customer journey for online shopping and in store shopping. Consider an inventory management software that automatically syncs inventory levels across all your physical locations and digital channels.
3. Staffing during the Holidays
During the holidays, your inventory and employees are the two most valuable things in your store. Proper staffing and training is essential to meeting the increase in demand and ensuring customers walk out of your store happy.
Hire Seasonal Help
Hiring seasonal staff not only increases the size of your workforce, but it helps relieve the pressure from your full-time staff, which means they are more likely to be in the holiday spirit all season long.
Providing your team snacks during shifts, giving a great discount on products, or even hosting a holiday party are some of the best ways of attracting seasonal employees who will stick around through the holiday season.
Preventing Employee Theft
Unfortunately, employee theft is a present problem for retailers in the midst of the holiday chaos. Using an inventory management platform, like Shopventory, lets you keep a very close eye on inventory levels that will alert you on any suspicious activity. Discount reports and user permissions are an effective way to deter theft and hold staff accountable.
Systemize and Delegate
While this should be happening year round, this is especially relevant during the holiday season. Creating something as simple as a flowchart or checklist can prevent tasks from falling through the cracks and provide guidance to seasonal employees.
Delegation is also critical during the holiday season. Once a system is in place, it becomes much easier to divide and conquer. For instance, consider assigning one employee each shift whose sole purpose is to stay on the store floor and make sure things look nice and organized. Rather than getting bogged down with training or cleaning, you can focus on connecting with holiday shoppers and maximizing profits.
Don’t forget, during the holidays many consumers are there to give you money and boost your business. Even the shoppers who are there just to look around are at least in your store. The impression you give matters to them and you’re more likely to spread the holiday spirit if your business is running smoothly.