Holiday Planning Starts with Seasonal Inventory Management

Amy Cross

Are you ready for the holiday rush? It may seem early (Halloween is still a week away!), but the earlier you prepare your seasonal inventory management, the better. The NRF is forecasting an increase of 3.7% in sales this holidays season. “It is significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Holiday sales in 2015 are expected to represent approximately 19% of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion.”

That last thing your business needs is a shortage of products and supplies when customers are out looking to stock up on your items. It’s time to prepare your inventory for the high-volume holidays ahead.

It’s likely you’ll need more of your usual inventory items, especially the most popular ones, but it’s certain you’ll also need to plan orders for new seasonal products. You may be preparing your inventory for an uptick in business as you ramp up for the most wonderful time of the year, but your customers will be shopping for holiday deals. Review your inventory list with this in mind and determine which items to feature in sales, how many to order and how much you want to discount those items. You definitely want to make sure you have enough in your inventory to satisfy the demand. As a small business, every piece of product in your inventory is important.

Ideally, you should plan to place orders no later than mid-November so holiday-related inventory arrives early in the season. This will elongate your retail sales period. When your products are quickly going in and out of stock and returns are being made in larger volumes than usual, small businesses that don’t have an automated way to keep up with their inventory management stand to lose a large percentage of their annual revenue.

Here are some more tips to help you manage your seasonal inventory this year:

  • Take Stock. Review last year’s sales and make note of what services and products sold well during the holidays. Looking at historical data can give you valuable insight into what may be popular this year. Reorder bestsellers while there’s still time to fill your shelves.

  • Tag, You’re It! Invest time in clearly labeling the items you have in stock. This will keep your business running smoothly in the more hectic weeks of December, especially if you hire seasonal service providers. It also will reduce the number of questions employees need to ask as they look for specific items to fulfill a certain service, depending on industry your business is in.

  • Perfect Together. Try putting complementary products that fulfill a certain need near each other so it’s easier to find and use them. It pays to eliminate any execution barriers when your schedule is booked solid in November and December.

  • Connect the Dots. Automate the links between your inventory, point of sale, bookings and customer information. It will be well worth the investment and help make running your business during the holiday craze less frantic.


About the Author

Amy  Cross

Amy Cross is a digital marketer who specializes in the creative side of communications, with a focus in strategy, content, conception and design. She's worn numerous marketing hats in a variety of industries, including technology, professional services and higher education.

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