’Tis the season for joy, merriment, and giving. That last part is the important one for retailers everywhere. That’s because Christmas is the biggest shopping season of the year. Over the last five years, Christmas-season sales have averaged around 19% of total sales for the year, and that percentage can be higher for some retailers, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The NRF also predicts 2022 Christmas sales to exceed those of last year’s by between 6% and 8% and to bring in between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion – and sales in 2021 were pretty amazing.
To fill all these sales, retailers have to have large stocks of inventory and ramp up fulfillment, but preparing and coping with that presents huge challenges. To overcome them, having optimal inventory is vital, and automating with an inventory management system is essential.
In this blog, we’re going to explore how Cin7 can help you get the right level of inventory for the holiday season, and take a look at shortcomings you should try to avoid.
The last thing any business wants to do is run out of stock during the holiday season. In fact, getting items to customers by Christmas Day is the most important thing they have to do at that time of year.
To make sure the level of stock at hand is at optimal levels to fill these orders, you have to anticipate the amount you’ll need and stock up ahead of time. This can’t be done without a complete understanding of the marketplace and consumer spending patterns. Complementing that is the importance of having real-time insights into inventory levels, complete oversight of its movement through the supply chain, and knowing what items are selling more and which less.
While shipments can be affected by factors like extreme weather conditions that are outside the retailers’ control, every effort has to be made to get items to customers on time – meaning before Christmas Day. With the high increase in orders during this holiday period, additional planning and resources are a necessity. The right tools and technology can make this planning a lot easier.
This year, customers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores. But that doesn’t mean they’ve left online behind. On the contrary, as Fit Small Business has shown, more than half of shoppers check items out online before buying in-store – or vice versa; and 47% of shoppers are more likely to buy online if they can return it to a physical store. Maybe a more important bit of data from that Fit Small Business survey is that retailers who sell on more than three channels increase their order rates by 494%.
The takeaway from this is that retailers and ecommerce companies not only have to sell on several channels — websites, online marketplaces, social media, and apps — they have to coordinate them. Shoppers have to be given a seamless experience, so that if they’re looking at something on one channel and they switch — like say from social media to a company’s site — the items they’re looking at will pop up. This multichannel, or omnichannel, selling can only be achieved with a robust automated system, and there’s no better time to get one than the holiday season when sales and orders spike.
Cin7 is a fully-integrated cloud-based inventory and order management system equipped with all the features necessary to meet the increased demands of the Christmas season.
As we’ve discussed, the best way to ensure you have the right level of inventory for the holiday season is to put good inventory planning in place.
Cin7 can help you with that. First, it creates detailed reports for your sales and inventory. These reports are in real time, and if you have multiple sales channels and warehouses, are individualized for each of them. Armed with this up-to-the-minute tool, you have an accurate picture of what’s selling well and where, information you can use to forecast your needs so you’ll get the right level of inventory in to meet them. What’s more, because the automated system is keeping accurate records of your inventory and its movement through your supply chain, noting each time something is removed from storage, you always know exactly what you have and where it is.
This ability to know what’s in storage leads to another benefit Cin7 gives you: keeping stock at constant levels. To enable this, the system can be programmed to register when these levels reach a predetermined low. When that happens, triggers will automatically send purchase orders (PO) to your supplier for more.
Stock transfer is another great capability of Cin7, one that can be especially useful during high-demand seasons like Christmas. What it does is arrange for items to be transferred from one warehouse to another. This is useful when, say, it makes sense to fill an order from one location rather than another, or — with the holiday season in mind — you need to take care of a bulk order.
Cin7 connects your suppliers, shipping partners, warehouses, stock locations, physical stores, and online sales channels, saving and constantly updating all information relating to them, and displaying this on a single, intuitive dashboard. This information includes everything from supplier details to POs and orders to payment terms to delivery locations.
While useful all-year round, during the high-demand holiday season when increased levels of inventory make it more likely for suppliers to get things wrong, having this information at your fingertips means that any mistakes in orders can be identified and corrected quickly and easily.
As mentioned, the Fit Small Business survey found that retailers who sell on more than three channels increase their order rates by 494%. That’s a whopping amount. Fortunately, a large number of retailers do use several channels both online and offline.
What’s needed, then, is a digital inventory management system that can keep track of all the channels and orders. In addition to coordinating online sales platforms like websites, social media, and apps and offline stores into a single system, Cin7 can incorporate dropshippers and online marketplaces like Amazon.
For the retailer this coordination allows you to connect your sales from these multiple outlets to your inventory, centralizing inventory management so you’ll always be on top of your needs. It’s worth noting here that ecommerce giants like Amazon may lower a seller’s ranking if it runs out of stock and can’t fill orders. All this means is that preventing stockouts is important on so many levels. Especially during the Christmas season, having a system like Cin7 to prevent stockouts is invaluable.
The spike in sales during the holiday shopping season creates challenges for retailers. While we’ve looked at these challenges for inventory, we haven’t explored other areas like expanded customer relations, added labor, and the need for more work and storage space. The thing is, when you have a feature-packed tool like Cin7 to take care of everything concerning inventory, you’re free to focus on those other areas.
To learn more about Cin7, call one of our experts today and arrange to be given a demo.
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