This blog was contributed by our partner TradeGecko. Founded in 2012, TradeGecko is a cloud-based inventory and order management platform for SMEs, serving B2B wholesalers, distributors and eCommerce businesses. TradeGecko now has a global customer base in over 90 countries serviced from their offices in Singapore, Canada, and the Phillippines. For more information check out their site.
With the holiday season fast approaching, online retailers of all sizes should already be thinking about how they’ll manage inventory and promote their business during the peak season. Smart forecasting and sales planning can mean the difference between a business that buckles under increased customer demand and one that exceeds end-of-year sales goals.
Here are some key planning considerations to ensure you’re ready to sell big during the holiday season.
Use data to forecast sales and manage inventory
Predicting sales and required inventory during the holiday season doesn’t have to be left to guesswork. By analyzing sales data from previous years’ holiday periods, you can glean a lot of useful information about how much you’ll sell this year, what you’ll sell, and how much stock you’ll need to have on hand to meet demand.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all seasonal forecasting formula, intelligence reports in an inventory management system like TradeGecko can be used to view past sales by period or location, and accurately predict sales trends for the upcoming holiday period.
Define your seasonal budget
Once you have a good understanding of the sales you’re likely to make, it’s time to start planning your seasonal budget. What sort of marketing efforts will you undertake, and what are you willing to spend on them? Will you need to hire more staff to maintain efficient operations? Do you need to outlay budget to make improvements to your products or customer experience before the holiday season begins? Budgeting for expenses ahead of time means you’ll be properly prepared for the busy season and have a clearer picture of what your profit will look like when it’s over.
Plan for promotions
It’s no secret that virtually every business out there will be increasing their promotional efforts leading up to and during the holiday season. Focus on what you can offer that other businesses can’t (your unique selling proposition), and showcase any new or limited-time seasonal products or features you have that are likely to draw in customers. This could be a new product line, product bundle, or other promotional offers like free shipping or a discount code for subscribers.
Take advantage of backordering
It’s likely that not every product in your online store will be ready to ship as soon as a customer purchases it. By utilizing backordering, you can maximise sales by allowing customers to make orders even if you don’t have a particular item in stock. With TradeGecko’s backorder system, all sales orders for an unavailable product are consolidated and converted to one purchase order per supplier. This means that manual ordering processes are greatly reduced and customers are likely to receive their products faster.
Plan for returns and exchanges
With an influx of seasonal sales and gift-giving comes an increase in returns and exchanges. Consider adopting a specific returns and exchanges policy for the holiday period so that you can more effectively manage stock levels, and choose a holding location for returned goods so they can be inspected before resale.
Using dedicated stock control software like TradeGecko also helps streamline the returns and exchanges process, as stock levels are automatically updated in the system when a product is returned, and synced with eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and accounting software like Xero, and QuickBooks.
Maximize your fulfillment workflow
Streamlined product fulfillment is key to a positive customer experience. During the holiday season especially, it’s crucial to have a clear fulfillment workflow mapped out so customers receive their products on time. Third-party fulfillment solutions like ShipStation help make fulfillment more accurate and efficient by managing the process from end to end. Fulfillment systems can also be integrated with inventory management systems like TradeGecko, linking together the entire sales process.
Want to streamline your sales process for the holiday season? Start TradeGecko’s free 14-day
trial to find out how it can optimize your business during peak sales demand periods. TradeGecko’s inventory and order management software will take all the stress out of seasonal sales periods, by giving you visibility and effortless control over your stock, orders, and customers all in the one place.