Effectively managing retail inventory during the holiday sales rush
Before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us. You know this, and you’re gearing your retail business up for the massive sales rush you look forward to. And that means managing retail inventory is a top priority. Those soaring sales are awesome, but you know from experience that you’d better have all of your retail merchandise available and organized for the coming increase in customer orders.
Perhaps this upcoming holiday season is the first one for your business. Or maybe you’ve been through a holiday sales rush, but you struggled to keep up with customers’ demands. If so, we’ve got helpful tips and resources to help with managing retail inventory, so you’ll be ready for the season.
Related: 5 best practices for retail inventory management
Staff up for the season: Managing retail inventory like a boss
Staffing is a great place to begin your holiday planning. Do you have enough employees to handle the holiday sales rush?
Many retail businesses use temporary employees to help out during these busy months — and budget for extra staff accordingly.
Why is this so important? Overworked employees could lead to mistakes in processing orders (not to mention an unhappy work environment), so prevent overextending them by having plenty of additional help available ahead of time.
Related: 5 things to consider when hiring for seasonal jobs
Promote to boost your sales
Don’t forget about promotions. They can be a powerful way to boost your holiday season and unload all that inventory. But that requires having all of your marketing strategies in working order:
Social media can be a very useful tool for last-minute sales you might need to promote. But your social accounts are worthless without a proper online presence. Invest your resources in digital marketing strategies that work far in advance of the holiday season. That way, you’ll have plenty of marketing avenues to meet the sales needs of your business.
Email marketing is also a smart move. Email marketing has shown to be especially useful for retail sales. And don’t be afraid to try marketing avenues you are unfamiliar with, but do your research to find the most proven methods.
Related: Holiday marketing checklist — 5 steps to prep your marketing for the holidays
Beware of ‘dead inventory’
Managing retail inventory during the holidays can seem a little bit like gambling. At the start of the season, you have to make a huge purchase of inventory that your business isn’t used to. Then, you have to hope that all of it gets sold.
Retail businesses are often left trying to figure out what to do with their “dead inventory” after the holiday season, and it can be considered a profit loss if the inventory is excessive.
In fact, statistics show that retail businesses in the United States loses, on average, $50 billion every year on dead inventory.
That’s why you need to find the “sweet spot” where you have enough inventory that you don’t run out while also preventing too much dead inventory, and these web strategies can help you find the right balance.
There are many effective retail inventory management systems available, so do your research to find the best one to suit your needs.
Measure profits and losses for next year
At the end of the day, you are likely most concerned with your retail business’s overall profit. There is a lot to navigate to ensure your holiday season is a success, and sometimes it can seem overwhelming. The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take to boost holiday sales enough to ensure your season was a success.
And while you’re in the middle of the holiday whirlwind, remember to monitor what items are popular and make a note of what items you did or did not run out of.
In fact, do your best to learn something more effective every year when it comes to managing retail inventory. Keeping yourself informed of the best modern business strategies is the smartest way to build your brand.
Stay flexible and strategic through the season
Even with plenty of preparation ahead of time, it’s inevitable that your retail business will experience some sort of loss this holiday season. There’s simply no way to predict what circumstances could affect your bottom line.
That’s why it’s crucial to not set your expectations too high, and remain flexible and adaptable to the business operational needs of the moment. For example, you might be surprised halfway through the holiday season to see that you have almost run out of bracelets. You weren’t expecting them to be so popular with your customers.
If you find this happening, take advantage of the interest in the product and promote that jewelry like crazy, offering customers deals and sales. Hint: This is also the time when a properly developed social media campaign could come in handy.
Learning to adapt is essential in managing retail inventory. Your job is not to control your customer base, nor should you expect all of your retail merchandise to be sold in the exact quantity that you originally ordered it. Instead, expect to meet your customers where they are and do your best to anticipate and satisfy their needs through the holidays and all year long.
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