Multichannel retailers and merchants can’t wait for the holiday season. Think about it— the top ten biggest shopping days of the year are in December, and Black Friday is nearly just as important. Sales are huge during the holidays, and as more sales move online, it’s more important than ever to be prepared. If you are a multi-channel retailer who sells through various sales channels such as Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, and brick and mortar stores, the pressure will be on you to meet holiday revenue expectations. This means you’ve got to tackle challenges such as inventory management, order fulfillment and returns handling as smoothly as possible. Where should you even start?
Here are the top 3 things to prepare for before the mad holiday rush:
If you don’t have real-time accurate inventory data, you will always have the risk of overselling and missing sales opportunities. Multichannel retailers will face very high demand during the holidays. If your inventory count isn’t accurate, you could end up stockpiling inventory. This means more money is tied down to inventory that might not sell, which can be a large issue once the holidays are over. If you don’t have inventory accuracy and inventory visibility, it can feel like you are driving in a thick fog. Your inventory figure will drive your business during the holiday season, so it is essential to prepare by being as accurate as possible.
This is also important from an asset valuation perspective in general. For example, inventory is an asset in your balance sheet. If you don’t know your accurate inventory figure, you wouldn’t be aware of your assets.
Multichannel retailers create backorders to anticipate unexpected demand. However, a high backorder rate can also indicate of lack of demand forecasting and cause missing inventory further down the line. Consumers are time-sensitive, especially during the holiday season— you can’t give a holiday gift after the holiday is over! In order not to miss any sales opportunities, you should prepare by creating a demand forecast and comparing it to the last holiday season, decide on adequate inventory levels, and consider the lead times of your vendors before purchasing. The best way to prepare for this is by setting a safety stock level in your inventory management system. It will not only reduce the backorder density, but it will also help with customer satisfaction, and help you get the orders you need out there ASAP.
Accurate Order Fulfillment
Returns represent very high costs for a retailer. You should do everything you can to reduce order returns to both save you money and save on the stress of having to handle returns during the busy holidays. In fact, a recent survey stated that 50% of online order returns are caused by inaccurate order fulfillment. Avoid the headache, and don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making it even harder on yourself than it has to be! A great way to reduce your return rate is by making sure your order picking, packing and shipments are 100% accurate by implementing barcode scanning. This is a must for any retail inventory management system. Barcode scanning makes sure that all pick, pack, and ship operations are complete, straight from the warehouse employee’s mobile devices.