With Black Friday upon us, the holiday shopping season has begun in earnest. For retailers, the most wonderful time of the year is also the busiest, most stressful, and potentially most profitable. Holiday shopping spend has increased each of the past 9 years and shows no signs of slowing down. Deloitte forecasts that retail sales during the holidays will grow another 5 – 5.6 percent this year, totaling a massive $1.1 trillion in the US. How much of this money will end up going to your retail clients will depend on how ready they are for the rush.
At a time when foot traffic and sales are peaking, business owners need functioning systems and actionable data to maximize profits and customer satisfaction. Essentially, the holiday season is a race against the clock for retailers. Once January hits, their holiday sales window has officially closed. To help your clients get the most out of this short but crucial time, you can provide reliable, up-to-the-minute that allows them to make the most informed decisions. With that in mind, here are three things every retailer should benefit from during the holidays.
Real-time inventory management
During the slower months of the year, a retailer can get away with checking the inventory on most products once a week. That’s not true during the holidays. A retailer should be updated on stock levels on, at the very least, a daily basis. For the most popular items, that’s probably not even enough. If the products aren’t on the shelves, after all, nobody can buy them.
A missed sale because a business doesn’t have an item in stock is an opportunity businesses won’t get back. Customers have more option than ever before, so if one retailer doesn’t have a desired product, they’ll find another that does. When a potential customer walks out a retailer’s doors, they’re probably not coming back during the holidays.
The way around this problem is anticipating needs and understanding where stock levels are at all times. An automated inventory management system will alert vendors that products need to be ordered long before the last unit is sold. That automation limits or eliminates the time spent waiting for a restock and ensures that every customer who inquires about a certain product will hear, “Yes, we have that,” in return.
Just as surely as consumers have choices when it comes to buying their gifts, retailers have options when it comes to selling them. Odds are your retail clients use brick-and-mortar, and online storefront, Amazon, and other channels to peddle their wares. Each of these channels is a powerful revenue stream, but only if they are managed correctly.
Problems arise when each channel operates as a silo, rather than talking to each other. Let’s say a retailer has a POS system in their stores that doesn’t integrate with their ecommerce merchant. If an item is sold in store, the stock number online may not update. A customer clicks, thinking they’ve secured the last unit of a precious item, only to find out the retailer was mistaken. That customer is going to be very unhappy, all because a single piece of data was not updated in a timely fashion. It goes without saying, then, that a multi-channel approach only soars when the technology is there to make it work.
A return merchandise authorization (RMA) system
Sales are at the highest from November through the end of December, but so too are returns. How a business handles these returns can affect their bottom line and customer retention rate just as much as the front-end sales experience they offer. A well-oiled RMA will increase customer satisfaction, return products to the shelves quickly, and alert business owners to important trends.
An RMA systematizes the return process and shortens the amount of time it takes to process returns. It also improves the customer experience, offering a quick response time and the opportunity to provide feedback. Without it, returns can bog down employee productivity and create inventory errors from which it can be hard to recover.
How AccountingSuite can help
Fortunately, AccountingSuite has all the tools you need to provide your clients with the best retail service during the holidays and beyond. Head to our pricing page for more information.