Small Business Solutions: Inventory Delays & Product Management Tips for a Successful Sales Season

The average American consumer spends nearly $1000 on gifts, decorations, and other expenses around the holiday season. As such, saying that it’s an ideal time for retailers would be a gross understatement. It’s nothing short of a year-end bonus that promises immense revenue potential as sales touch an all-time high.

However, with great sales comes great responsibilities, like hands-on inventory and project management. One slip-up or a slight delay, and you could be left with empty shelves and unhappy customers, which can undo your profit goal. You can avoid this misfortune if you follow a few effective inventory and project management tips. 

Make Communication the Cornerstone

Inventory management involves multiple stakeholders. You have the manufacturer, the supplier, your employees, and of course, the customer. Communication is key to orchestrating the perfect inventory and supply management system.

Most modern-day inventory management platforms come equipped with modules for synchronous and asynchronous communication. You can use offline channels, such as custom banners, flags, flyers, and direct mailers combined with online channels like blogs and social media posts to share inventory updates with customers in real time. 

Place Orders in Advance

For consumers, events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday may ring in the holiday season, but for retailers, the holiday season comes a-knocking even before October.

While it is necessary to outline the marketing campaigns and tidy up the store, planning your inventory and placing orders in advance should be a top priority. Review past inventory details, such as SKU performance, to get a list of all the top sellers. Refine this list by conducting basic market research and analyzing industry trends. Once you have a list of what to stock up on, place your orders.

Partner With Trusted Suppliers

Placing your orders in advance can surely take a significant weight off of your shoulders. However, if your suppliers are going to give you anxiety on whether or not the orders will be fulfilled in time for the holiday season, then it’s probably time to rethink this relationship.

Partner with trusted suppliers, even if you may have to pay a slight premium for it. The advantages come in the form of quick stock replenishment, stable inventory supply and happy customers, all of which leads to higher ROI.

Even in the case of online stores, your supplier will play a crucial role in satisfactory order fulfillment. By involving a third-party logistics provider (3PL), you can focus more on selling and less on packing and shipping orders.

Encourage Early Purchases

While purchases will peak in the months of November and December, you can flatten this curve by incentivizing early purchases. 

For instance, Amazon hosted a Prime Day on October 13th and 14th in 2020 to offset pressing demands. While effective order management is the key takeaway from this strategy, it also highlights changing customer preferences. Businesses can use preview to gauge product popularity and give themselves sufficient wiggle room to adjust inventory levels according to these demands.

Offer Relevant Alternatives

No matter how hard you try, certain items go out of stock sooner than others. While you’re in the process of restocking, you can offer relevant alternatives. Use flags to direct customers towards alternative products. 

Naturally, a shopper may be hesitant to try out another brand or variation. However, smart marketing tactics can offset these doubts. For instance, you can have shelf banners that showcase the alternative product’s USPs. Furthermore, you can also inform the customers that you’re in the process of restocking so that those who insist on buying a specific item can return to make the purchase.

Notify Customers After Restocks

Alerting your customers after restocking is just as crucial as informing them of out-of-stock products. After all, it converts customers who have not yet purchased from your competitors!

However, one needs to get creative with their restocking campaigns. The communications should evoke a sense of excitement and urgency to nudge the buyers into making a purchase. Use a combination of online and offline channels to share your message and you will see your sales increase. 

A great customer experience is key to reaching your sales goals. While supply chain disruptions and inventory displays can derail shoppers’ expectations, clear communication and agile ordering can help you achieve success. 

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