Even before the last of the summer heat burned off, small businesses around the world started getting ready for a much-anticipated holiday season. Last year, Americans spent $4.3 trillion on retail purchases, and small business owners who aspire to push that number further are wasting zero time in preparing for a successful season. What does that mean to you? It means get your butt in gear! Time’s a wastin’.
In order to maximize your holiday season, below are four key tips:
1. Don’t be afraid of data.
If you have the luxury of pulling data from your previous year’s sales, be sure to take time to review your trends. Gathering this information is always helpful in your preparation process. We know, crunching numbers isn’t always fun, but if you have the right tools to help you, it will make a big difference.
2. Think about the big picture.
The holidays are the busiest time of the year for retailers. Also, it’s important to note that ecommerce is growing super fast. ComScore reported that there was a 16% increase in ecommerce in Q2 this year and a 13.2% increase in Q3. When you think about how much inventory to have on hand, knowing what you sold last year and accounting for growth this year will be a key to success.
3. Streamline your processes.
Tracking, packing, shipping, and managing products can be quite the task, especially when the holidays bring an influx of orders. In order to keep the process moving, implement helpful tools now that will allow you to quickly execute on these tasks during the rush. Search for online, integrated systems that will help you track your inventory, manage sales, and ship your products at the speed you need it to be done. It will be worth the investment.
4. Avoid out of stock items.
According to a recent Emory University study, almost one-half of intended purchases are lost when a consumer finds an item is out of stock. Don’t let poor inventory management cost you money. Like they say, “make hay while the sun’s shining.” During the holidays, the sun’s shining. Don’t miss this opportunity to make some hay.
Ultimately, you want to develop an execution plan that is going to keep you organized and enable you to sell, pack and ship as many products as possible, and as quickly as possible, during this holiday season. Do your research, gather resources, and find the best tools that will allow you to automate as much as possible so you can focus on marketing your great products.
Brandon Levey is CEO and co-founder of Stitch Labs (@StitchLabs), which offers a Cloud-based, real-time inventory and business management solution for small and midsized retailers.