For many retailers and wholesale distribution businesses the Christmas rush can be a busy and sometimes stressful time. But getting yourself prepared with the right reporting, inventory, eCommerce and omni-channel offerings can help minimise issues and maximise your sales potential.
A Little Planning Can Go a Long Way to Maximising Sales
Let’s take a look at the top areas in which to plan and prepare your business to make it a Christmas sales period to remember.
Having accurate, reliable reporting set up is crucial in the lead up to Christmas. Firstly, because you can gain a better understanding of your customers, their buying habits and expected stock fluctuations. Are there certain products which are in high demand with customers in the lead up to Christmas? And are there significant decreases in demand for products once the rush is over? Having this visibility can give you the insights into which products you need to increase stock of, and which to flag as post-Christmas sale specials to help drive sales further and move remaining stock. Money tied up in stock that’s sitting on those shelves can take a toll on your cash flow and be costly, with potentially depreciating values of those items and reduced warehouse or storage space. You’ll want to prioritise moving this stock quickly to keep costs minimised.
Secondly, the right reporting can give you a better understanding of your stock supply situation. How long are your suppliers taking to deliver? Could you cut down the total time waiting for product deliveries by ordering larger quantities, less often? And could you secure additional discounts from suppliers for those larger quantity orders?
When looking at reporting, you’ll want to see accurate, real-time information to know you’re making agile business decisions. If you also have the functionality to set up automated reports, this can be a huge time saver - having up-to-the-minute reporting delivered to you when you need it, without any additional manual effort.
Trying to balance your stock on hand with sales demand and cash flow can be difficult to get just right. And in the middle of a busy Christmas rush period, can sometimes add frustration. If you’ve prepared your reporting in advance though, you’ll be able to use the intelligence gained to plan your optimal stock levels to cover your requirements during this period.
You can even go the extra step and set up automated alerts and re-ordering points that trigger based on minimum defined stock levels; if you’re using the right inventory management software, that is.
There are also a number of physical efficiencies you can set up to streamline your retail outlet or warehouse management. Consider where you’re positioning your most popular items, for example. Are they organised at the front of your store to attract more customers? Or is your popular stock in the warehouse positioned close to where the pick, pack, ship process is taking place, decreasing the walking time for warehouse staff each time those products are picked?
The lead up to the Christmas rush is a perfect time to review your web presence and implement improvements which can help maximise your online sales potential. Is your website consistent with your brand and instore experience and providing a great user experience?
Offering your online customers an eCommerce platform with login capabilities to save favourite products, real-time stock availability information and easy re-ordering functionality can make sure they keep coming back. Also think about whether you have detailed product information set up, including size and weight, great product images and potentially even reviews from customers who have purchased those items previously.
You can also look at improving your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to ensure customers can find you when they’re searching online. Think about what keywords or phrases people may be using to find your business or products and incorporate these into your product information or descriptions. Are they also likely to be searching for stores in specific geographical areas? If so, it could pay to make mention of your physical location on your site, making it more likely for it to appear on location-based user searches.
Tying together your online and in-store platforms can create a well-rounded and memorable customer experience, which all helps to maximise your sales potential. Think about whether you could offer special discounts or rewards on your website which can be redeemed in-store. Or how about allowing customers to complete product returns on-line and bring their physical products back into the store? You could even offer in-store collection for orders place via the web. Having the right POS solution in place that’s integrated with your back-end system can help bring this all together.
Also review whether your online store incorporates responsive design and is mobile friendly. With a major shift in recent years towards accessing websites from mobile devices, it’s important that you’re offering a seamless experience, not only across platform, but also across devices. Make it easy for customers to call you straight from your mobile site by having your phone number hyperlinked. You can also provide links to your Google Maps location, making it even easier for people to find your physical store.
Wrap It All Up
With right preparation in place across reporting, inventory, eCommerce and omni-channel offerings, you can position yourself to maximise your sales potential this Christmas.
Know which of your products you’ll need to stock up on and which may need a little post-Christmas sales promotion to get them out the door. Get your store or warehouse organised to be more efficient during the busy period. Provide a consistently great experience across your online and in-store channels and make it easy for customers to go between your different sales channels.
With all of this working together, you can make the most of this year’s busy period and have yourself a very Merry Christmas. For more information on how a cloud ERP can help you achieve the best results, get in touch to start a conversation or read more on JCurve ERP for retail.