No matter if you’re running a tiny arts and crafts store or a major retail enterprise, the year-end holiday season can boost your balance sheet… or roll over you like a merry yellow road roller, leaving you deal with unhappy customers and overfilled stock.
But there are four simple measures you can take to survive and benefit. The best part is that these solutions keep working throughout the year. And we give you a plan B that saves you this season.
1) Boost customer service
First and most obvious measure is to hire extra people. Keep in mind they need to know where stuff is, and how to handle clients. A week of training would be essential for a store associate. In ecommerce, get your support and order fulfilment staff ready.
Too late for that? Don’t fret. There are other nice things that your customers value. Offer them coffee, juice and refreshments! A glass of water can go a long way in a crowded mall. Good news is that any freshly hired person can handle this, leaving more time to people doing the actual sales. In eCommerce? Check out automatic fulfilment services and focus on support.
2) Analyse and be prepared
Increasing all stock to your desired holiday sales results can leave you with piles of unsold stuff. Analyse your sales data and pick a limited selection of holiday hits. Boost the sales of your holiday hits with discounts and gifts! And you’ll probably get better price when purchasing from your suppliers.
If you’re fresh to business, analyse the trends: National Retail Federation [nrf.com] is a great source. They even have a 2014 data kit, not to mention historical data and consumer trend forecasts.
Too late for that? Breathe in, do your best, and think about the plan B. It’s called after holiday sales. There are many people who hate shopping sprees and deliberately postpone these to post holiday season. Unless you’re into selling Santa Claus costumes, you can get nice sales results after holidays, too.
3) Use integrated inventory, sales and shipping
According to Forrester Research, last year 15% of online holiday shoppers didn’t receive their packages on time the seller couldn’t handle the flow. There’s an obvious solution to it. Just use an retail system that has integrated inventory, sales and shipping modules, like Erply does. Shipping orders can be sent directly to FedEx or UPS, without any extra messing with paperwork.
Too late for that? Well, if you didn’t see it coming, remember that what’s actually coming with sales, is money to your bank account. Hire extra people, engage friends and family and pull all-nighters. What’s most important, learn from the experience and get a good ERP and inventory system immediately after holidays. You need it during the year and next holidays, too.
No matter, if it’s a pizza joint or a huge retail outlet, you will see heavy spikes in data volume during holidays. If your inventory is running only online, five minutes of Internet problems can result in angry customers and full shopping carts left by the counter. Opt for a hybrid system that keeps working offline, too, updating the central data as soon as you’re back online.
The other advantage of hybrid cloud systems like Erply POS and Inventory.com is readiness for multichannel sales and multiple devices, which helps to distribute the weight of data handling.
Too late for that? First of all, get a modern system immediately after the high season has passed. To save the day, buy an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Connect at least some devices to it. Done that? Buy a 4G Broadband Dongle, so you have a backup web connection. Or learn to hook up your smartphone as an access point. Done that, too? Make a checklist on how to act in crisis. Hand it out to your associates.
Remember that it’s imperative to remain calm. In every trouble there’s a plan B. Enjoy the busy season!