While merchants are getting ready for the holiday shopping rush, they may discover that they cannot predict how much of an increase in sales they’ll experience. When ecommerce merchants aren’t ready for the increase, they find themselves behind the eight ball when it comes to inventory planning. Without the right amount of inventory, you may end up with an excess or deficit of stock. If you cannot process customer orders because of a lack of inventory, you risk a loss of revenue for your distributors. On the other hand, if you end up with too much inventory, it can be challenging to sell it at different times of the year. Let’s examine how Acumatica ERP helps you prepare for the holiday rush.
Having enough inventory during retail holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday is crucial. Previous years’ sales provide a starting point for how much additional inventory you need. Next, consider your demand predictions, along with marketing initiatives and trends that drive sales. Once you’ve set your buying goals, it’s time to contact your suppliers. This is a critical step because supply chain issues slow down inventory access. To mitigate supply chain problems, preorder as soon as possible to avoid inventory shortages. If items are out of stock or back-ordered, it can cause customers to cancel orders and likely never come back to shop with you.
These Acumatica tools help you prepare your inventory needs before the holiday shopping season starts.
- Acumatica’s Historical Inventory Balance and Inventory Valuation Report: Acumatica has built-in tools to help you review the products and categories that sold well during the previous holiday season. Once you get a clear picture of how well products sold the prior holiday season, you find your strengths and shortcomings to begin social media or marketing campaigns to boost brand awareness and encourage shoppers to buy from you over your competitors.
- Acumatica Inventory Model and Transactions History:
Acumatica helps you record your busiest sales periods and analyzes the best historical sales. This historical data predicts inventory needs and ensures a smooth sales season. With transaction history, you can forecast your sales goals and find ways to increase sales from the previous year. Keeping a record of your busiest periods and analyzing them is one of the most effective strategies to prepare for the holiday season.
- Acumatica Replenishment:
Ecommerce merchants must ensure customers can purchase items and deliver them in time for holiday functions. Acumatica Replenishment helps you prepare and calculate customer needs and research shipping times to ensure clients get their items on time.
Train Your Staff
You may start seeing customer assistance inquiries become more frequent as early as September. To alleviate the strain on your current staff, you may need to hire temporary workers to help fill in the gaps. Both current and temporary staff need to be trained on policies, procedures, and workflows before the holiday rush really get overwhelming. Acumatica offers its Open University to obtain training manuals for new employees and provide refresher training for current ones.
Depending on the amount of traffic, you may need to extend operating hours. During regular times, your business may be open from 9 to 5, but that doesn’t mean that’s when your ideal customer is shopping. It’s also possible that the peak conversation periods may change depending on the location and demographics of your customer base. It may benefit your company to provide service earlier in the morning and later in the evening to handle requests when they come in.
Don’t forget about the post-sales rush. Despite seasonal preparations, customers will still shop after the holidays for clearance and additional post-holiday sales. Establish guidelines and planned solutions for customer concerns and returns. Proper planning allows your staff to maintain consistency and efficiency well after the holiday season. To better serve customer needs, Acumatica’s CRM helps your team view customer information, sales data, and past inquiries, allowing your staff to provide personalized service and, in turn, increase post-holiday sales.
Prepare Customer Service Teams
Your customer service team is the most valuable player in your preparation for the holiday rush. So start getting them ready for the increase in customer activity early. In addition to an increase in sales, customers will ask about promotions, deals, shipping times, and more. While these are all positive interactions, customer service teams experience negative interactions too. Angry customers can cause even the most seasoned team members to lose patience. So before the holiday season begins, make sure CSRs, SAs, and seasonal workers have the tools and materials they need to handle the increased activity.
Prepare for Increased Shipping Demands
The goal of each significant shopping season, whether it is the holidays or any other time of year, should be to break sales records. However, you still need to establish shipping and fulfillment procedures for individual transactions after you’ve completed the sale. Here are a few tips to prepare your business for increased shipping demand.
Never run out of Shipping Supplies: Running out of packaging supplies while orders pile up is a hassle. Every major shipping company offers free boxes online. If you run out of these essentials, your fulfillment flow may suffer, so stockpile extras. Acumatica ERP can track non-stock boxes and packing materials.
Ensure you can meet shipping deadlines and plan for delivery delays: Carriers set shipment deadlines each holiday season to ensure holiday arrival. Keep an eye on your carrier's shipping deadlines and consider them in your delivery times. During the holidays, USPS, UPS, and FedEx send 50 million packages a day in the US. This avalanche of packages can derail delivery schedules. Acumatica ERP’s Sales Orders module and Inventory module helps you create and monitor “Ship By” dates to ensure customers receive their purchases by the holiday.
Prepare your return policy: Returns are inevitable during high-traffic seasons. Create an intentional strategy to account for and handle returns. Communicate these policies to your customers to create a smooth return process for everyone involved. Regarding shipping, there are three ways to handle the cost of return shipping labels – the customer pays the cost of return shipping, you pay the cost, or a combination of the two. Whatever way you manage returns, ensure the procedure is in place well before high traffic times to manage customer and staff expectations.
Need More Holiday Readiness Help?
These are the four main ways to prepare for the busy holiday shopping season. You can implement many more tools and processes to keep your business running efficiently and provide exceptional customer experiences. Acumatica ERP is a significant player in managing customers, inventory, shipping, fulfillment, and more. Kensium is an expert at developing and implementing Acumatica ERP to your existing ecommerce platform to help you keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy. Contact us today, and our Solutions Experts will help you evaluate your current platform and discuss the options available to get ready for peak sales.