By Brandon Levey
Even before the last of the summer heat has burned off, small businesses around the world are 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 planning for a successful season right now. You need to start preparing the best ways you can increase sales, nail your marketing strategies, and manage the packing, shipping, and inventory tracking along with your sanity. In order to do that, you must have a plan. Don’t know where to start? No worries.
In order to maximize your holiday season, below are four key tips:
1. Analyze your inventory. If you have the luxury of pulling data from your previous year’s sales, be sure to take some time to analyze particular trends. Gathering this information is always helpful in your preparation process. Also, be sure that you have plenty of room to store the extra inventory you are ordering from suppliers.
2. Set reasonable deadlines. You have enough going on during the holidays, don’t allow your business to completely sink your mental energy. Break out what your priorities are. Be honest with yourself when it comes to your capacities. If you feel overwhelmed, break down those goals into milestones and break milestones into digestible tasks. Break down your “To Do” list as small as you can to make sure that you are gaining momentum and staying on track.
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 not that will allow you to quickly execute on these tasks later. 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. Track your reporting to 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. Implement tools that will keep you organized and on top of your inventory quantities. Don’t miss an opportunity to make a sale because you weren’t paying attention.
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.