This post is contributed by Derek, the CEO of Brightpearl. Derek joined Brightpearl from Symantec where he held leadership positions across their Enterprise, Small Business and Consumer divisions for the past 10 years.
It’s important to be prepared (as much as you can!) for the busy holiday season and successful inventory management across all your sales channels is one of the best ways to increase sales and profit.
During the holiday season it’s easy to get wrapped up in all sorts of different areas of the business. It’s easy to lose control when it comes to your inventory management strategy. We’ve come up with some tips to help you drive the business forwards to have the best holiday season yet.
Taking note of historical retail data overall, and combining that with your own sales reports will enable you to make smart choices in how you plan for holiday promotions and discounting, before, during, and after Christmas.
Tip 1: Ensure glowing marketplace ratings and online reviews
With ecommerce as strong as ever, you need to ensure your marketplace ratings and online reviews are in good shape before the holiday season. Ensuring your spot at the top of everyone’s results page is likely to lead to your business to being the shop of choice over your competitors. The primary reason that causes ratings to decline are high refund rates due to overselling, and not keeping customers informed due to the lack of timely order updates.
To avoid bad reviews and ratings, it’s important to make sure you can fulfill all your orders coming in from multiple sales channels in a timely fashion to the delivery dates promised. Negating these risks can be difficult but having a system like Brightpearl in place allows you to keep your inventory in sync across multiple channels, and update all your orders with shipment updates automatically.
Tip 2: Avoid stock outs
The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for most businesses, and therefore you want to make sure that you have enough stock to fulfil the orders. Through Brightpearl’s native inventory management and purchasing module you’ll be able to have a clear view of your current, and future stock levels. Dedicate some time out of your busy day to have a quick check of your stock levels to monitor best sellers and keep an eye on what needs reordering. Focus on restocking those ‘best sellers’ to keep your customers happy and your sales thriving.
Tip 3: Forecast best-selling products
It’s not just a case of having stock in your warehouse but you should have the right stock that will fly off the shelves and bring you in plenty of profit. Forecasting is one way of helping you decide which products you should stock up on. Take a look back at historical sales reporting to forecast those repeat ‘best sellers’ which will enable you to make sure that you’ve got the right stock on order, ready to meet the demands.
Tip 4: Organize your warehouse
A well-organized warehouse can help you be more efficient when it comes to getting inventory out of the warehouse door. There are many ways to organize your warehouse but most importantly make sure all products are easy to find, well-labelled and well-placed. Also, make sure your best selling products are the easiest to reach. A tidy warehouse will make it much quicker for your warehouse staff to pick, pack and ship the influx of orders over the holiday season.
Tip 5: Streamline your pick, pack, ship process
Once you’ve got the right inventory stocked and your warehouse organized, it’s a case of getting your orders efficiently picked, packed and shipped. You’ve most likely already got an efficient pick, pack, ship process but this can be difficult during the holiday season rush as the number of orders coming in will rise. Be prepared for the rush by employing additional holiday season staff to have extra help on hand. It’s no good waiting for the flux in orders to begin, get ahead of the game and have them in place just in time.
Tip 6: Brace yourself for returns
Returns are unavoidable around the hectic holiday season with unwanted gifts and buyers changing their mind, so be prepared for the incoming returns and expect your inventory levels to fluctuate. Make sure you have a process in place to get those returned goods back into your inventory levels. The quicker you get the products back into your system, the quicker you can resell them. Ensure all your staff are aware of the process so your whole team are on board.
With your inventory management strategy in place, the next step is to be aware of all the key holiday shopping dates throughout the season. Get your hands on this free calendar so you don’t miss any important dates. Now you’re ready to ‘have yourself a merry little Christmas’!