Future of Commerce Blog

4 Ways to Master Your Inventory During the Holidays


According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday sales represent up to 40 percent of overall sales for retailers. With the promise of increased revenue also comes a surge of additional challenges for you to keep inventory organized and your multiple channels communicating with one another.

Holiday sales generally met the retail forecasts for 2013. The NRF forecasted a 3.9 percent increase from 2012 and consumers did not disappoint, bringing an increase of 3.8 percent or $601.8 billion for the 2013 holiday season. This year the NRF has forecast a 4.1% growth in retail sales. How can you make sure you’re ready for additional sales this season? Having a complete view of inventory and sales channels, an organized warehouse, a solid fulfillment strategy, and knowledge of what to do with overstock are key before your customers begin holiday shopping.

In order to end the year as a holiday hero, here are some best practices for the holiday season:

Use Technology to Get a Unified View Across Sales Channels

The difficulty of managing inventory across multiple channels lies mainly within the disparate systems a business owner has to manage in the process. Spreadsheets, purchase orders, invoices and pick lists are all kept in different locations, leading to an increase in coordination, time and also in human error.

As more small-to-medium-sized retailers begin using e-commerce platforms, point-of-sale (POS) applications and other technologies, data unification will be key to increasing profits and staying organized through the holidays. For example, knowing which products are best-sellers or which are low in stock could be critical to making additional sales. Instituting a multichannel selling and inventory management platform, like Stitch, helps retailers centralize their order and sales data across multiple channels and devices, keeping inventory and their teams in sync.
Learn more about Stitch’s multichannel inventory management features.

Keep Your Warehouse Organized

Tracking down inventory is one of the least productive ways retailers can spend their time during the holidays. If you’re managing a warehouse, then you know that optimizing your picking process is key to developing a more efficient system. A disorganized warehouse is not only bad for fulfillment, but it can also lead to misinformation about what inventory is actually available. Don’t risk losing sales opportunities because of a sloppy warehouse or hidden box.

To avoid confusion on stock quantities and location, keep stock rooms and warehouses as organized as a storefront would be. Make it quick and easy to find inventory. Create clear labels and leverage sales data to see which items are often purchased together. You can then group these items together in the warehouse for faster picking.
Read the “7 Ways to Optimize Your Warehouse” Guide.

Nail Down Your Fulfillment Strategy

Once inventory has been organized and commerce platforms have been integrated, the shopping season usually comes down to one grueling task – order fulfillment. If you’ve added sales channels since the last holiday season, tackling multichannel fulfillment can be a big challenge. In order to keep your multiple sales channels running smoothly and to simplify your shipping and fulfillment process, use a software solution like ShipStation.

If you plan to fulfill orders in-house, ShipStation is a great solution to keep things moving. The online shipping software integrates with multiple e-commerce and inventory platforms, automatically importing order information. Your shipping labels are created with one click, and you’re able to mix and match them depending on your preferred carriers. ShipStation even pulls in your discounted carrier rates for easy calculation.
Learn more about Stitch and ShipStation order management.

Maximize Sales After the New Year

Our data team recently conducted a study that showed January 2014 sales orders were 152% above October 2013. Most retailers think that their heightened profit opportunities exist October through December, however we found out from our customers that order activity extends well beyond the New Year. Don’t get caught snoozing through the 2015 celebrations. Make sure you have the infrastructure to support residual shopping activity into January by knowing how to manage any extra stock you might have from the holiday season.
Learn more about Stitch’s new bundling feature to clear old stock.

Breena Fain

Breena Fain is the director of content and communications at Stitch. Bouncing between creative storytelling and visual communication, Breena helps the marketing team develop engaging content that helps retailers understand the value of inventory management. In her spare time she enjoys reading about organizational psychology, creative writing and enjoying all the wine California has to offer.

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