Top tips to meet demand this holiday season

With Cyber Monday sales dropping for the first time ever, this year’s holiday season has become even more pivotal for many retailers. Although Adobe still expects the entire period will deliver record-breaking e-commerce activity, research from McKinsey suggests that shoppers are more willing than ever to switch brands or retailers, especially when items are unavailable.

With shoppers increasingly embracing the omnichannel experience and changing the way they purchase merchandise – in order to avoid out of stock scenarios – Matthew Frost, the recently appointed CEO of Impulse Logic, has shared his views on how to succeed over the holiday period.

The devil is in the detail

Having accumulated over two decades of experience working at two of the UK’s leading grocery retailers, I have seen the good and bad when it comes to holiday season planning. As the famous song goes, store teams should always make a list and check it twice! This year is going to be one of the toughest yet for continuity of supply and getting stock to the shelf. Make sure you have all the ingredients for delivering a bumper sales period and Q1 through strategical thought out buying plans.

Don’t overly rely on forecasts

A forecast is always wrong, no matter how hard you try. You must plan for very eventuality, like Kevin in Home Alone. Use analytics to look at what line historically sells in the category when others run out and make sure you have some cover. But crucially, don’t panic and overstock items that you will find it difficult to sell after the holidays, particularly if they are perishable food products.

Labour management and Leadership is critical

Great people make retailers successful. Having the right number of people in the right place at the right time helps deliver great service. Even then though there are always challenges at peak trading. As a leader, be prepared to roll your sleeves up and take time to recognise those who have gone above and beyond – particularly during this challenging year. Customers don’t want Ebenezer Scrooges to serve them – they all want Buddy the Elf!

Get creative with merchandising and stock

Creating customer solutions is a great way to build a bigger holiday basket. People love to go that bit further with homemade sauces, drinks, cocktails etc. Make it simpler by bringing the solution together and getting fill levels right.

Be prepared to change

One of the most important things to do during any holiday period is to monitor the data and ensure that you can react and change course. Keep an eye on sell through on holiday items and make decisions early. Even with the best plan some items will sell better or worse than you expect. Take timely decisions on marking down to minimise losses or ordering more if you can.

Loyalty is earned

Loyalty has always been key to retailers doing well. The most successful ones have built loyalty with a customer base for many years, based on their in-store experiences, cost or diversity of product. However, this it is now under huge threat thanks to the digitalisation of retail.

Retailers now need to work harder to gain and retain customers. One of the most important aspects of this is product availability. To put it into perspective, according to McKinsey’s latest study, just one in 10 shoppers (13%), who have faced an out-of-stock scenario, wait for an item to come back in stock. Seven in 10 (70%) have switched retailers or brands.

All this means that having the right stock in the right place at the right time is essential. If you are to succeed this holiday season – and in 2022 – you need to find innovative ways to negate inventory shortages, get products on display quicker and minimise labour disruptions. Those that do will be much stronger placed to meet demand and maintain profitability.

For more information about Impulse Logic’s inventory management solutions that reduce waste, minimise out of stock scenarios, and deliver an ROI in just 90 days, visit https://www.impulselogic.com/

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