The holidays are a trying time of year for most people, but especially for small and mid-sized retailers. In preparation for increased orders and fulfillment demands, businesses worry about having enough inventory in stock and their ability to quickly track, pack, and ship orders.
Retailers’ inventory management concerns are well warranted. How well retailers manage their inventory ultimately determines their profitability. Yet, even businesses that feel prepared for the holiday rush often still make mistakes when it comes to properly managing their inventory and operations.
To help your business avoid inventory blunders this holiday season, we’re sharing the biggest inventory mistakes small to mid-sized retailers make and how your business can sidestep them.
1. Not Ordering Enough Inventory to Meet Demand
You know your business better than anybody and you think you’ve ordered enough product to meet holiday demands, but your marketing efforts have really paid off and now you unexpectedly have a larger than anticipated spike in sales. Running out of or, even worse, overselling a top-selling item can cause not only a loss of sales, but can also damage your reputation with customers.
You can avoid inventory shortages and overselling by reviewing historical sales reports on top-selling products and sales channels to better prepare your operations and warehousing facilities. Add an additional inventory safety net by setting low-stock thresholds for best-selling items to be automatically reordered, making being out of stock a ghost from Christmas past.
2. Ordering Too Much Inventory
The holidays tend to inspire over-eating, as well as over-ordering. Retailers who are afraid of being short on stock during the busy holiday season, are prone to ordering too much inventory. Don’t get caught in a situation where all your capital is taking up space in your storage facility.
Studying past sales reports is crucial to preventing your warehouse from having to accommodate access stock. And by implementing an automated inventory management solution, you’ll be able to place more conservative initial purchase orders and automate reordering for when your stock reaches predetermined low-stock counts.
3. Poor Reporting and Tracking Methods
Not being able to accurately forecast holiday sales can be detrimental to retailers’ holiday planning. As we’ve seen above, retailers have to walk a very fine line when preparing their inventory; ordering too much can eat away at your profits and not ordering enough can harm your customer relations and lead to unrealized sales.
Invest in a centralized inventory and operations solution that can provide real-time tracking and analytics on important information like inventory status and sales across all your business channels. Once these systems are in place, you’ll be able to better automate sales forecasting for comprehensive holiday planning.
4. Not Using The Right Technology
The true difficulty of managing inventory, particularly across multiple sales channels, lies within the many disparate systems with constantly updating information that needs to be processed. Spreadsheets, purchase orders, invoices, and pick lists are often all kept in different locations. And the more sales channels you need to account for, the more time and resources are required to coordinate them (and the greater the chances are for human error).
Many retailers are unaware to the numerous technology tools available to help them integrate and streamline their various sales channels and vendor platforms. Solutions like Stitch can sync all your sales channels and eCommerce platforms into a single system, automatically tracking inventory, sales, and shipping status to optimize and simplify your retail operations.
Inventory management isn’t easy, but with the help of centralized inventory management solutions, small and mid-sized retailers can avoid common mistakes and approach the hectic holiday season with confidence.