How can your business optimise stock for the holiday season?

20th November 2015

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The holiday season can be a time of great opportunity yet high stress for a small business. While consumers are more willing to spend, this requires firms to accurately predict and manage stock levels.

In order to capitalise on the increased activity, businesses need to have strong systems in place, such as structured stock software, to see success.

Why is inventory management so important?

A joint report from eBay Enterprise and CFI Group uncovered some key insights into consumer demands and expectations for stock.

36 per cent of customers expect on-demand shipping and ordering information.

According to the survey, 79 per cent of consumers online will change brands if they are unable to get the product in time, rather than waiting for a restock. A further 36 per cent expect on-demand shipping and ordering information when requested. 

CFI Group CEO Sheri Petras explained the potential consequences businesses can face by not having the right stock levels, especially since many companies now operate in the digital space.

"The critical nature of product availability is emphasised when realising that not only will a retailer lose a sale on the out of stock item, but often times on other products in an overall purchase," she said.

"It's true that consumers have a strong desire for multiple ordering and shipping options, but first the product must be readily available."

How can you better handle your stock?

When estimating your stock levels for the holiday season, it is important to look at historical information and possible trends. For example, last year Australia saw a 4.1 per cent yearly increase, according to the Australian Retailers Association. The organisation stated that this was a positive sign of growth, yet noted that sale surges in December are often hard to measure in the statistics.

This is where using business intelligence software can be useful in improving the accuracy of your forecast. By utilising real-time and historical data, firms can make better decisions and predictions of required to meet customer or client demand. 

Using software can help businesses make better forecasts.Using software can help businesses make better forecasts.

Another key consideration is having a strong internal system in place. A report by Deloitte highlighted that businesses must establish a set of KPIs and best practices measures in areas such as inventory transfers, inventory adjustments, and procurement and sourcing to effectively meet these goals. 

With the right technology and methods, businesses can enter the holiday season with the confidence they will see a successful period of sales management.