Kaju Katli, Barfi, Gulab Jamun: It’s that time of year again, and no expectations are higher than those of eCommerce store owners. Festive sale season is the most lucrative and hectic time of the year for them.
Managing seasonal inventory can be particularly difficult because there are many activities to perform and little time to do them. Acknowledging the same, here is a list of suggestions to enhance your seasonal inventory management during the holiday season.
But first, let’s quickly go over the fundamentals of seasonal inventory management.
How Does Seasonal Inventory Work?
Stock acquired, gathered, or kept to meet the rising demand of any specific season, such as Diwali, Christmas or summer vacations, is called seasonal inventory. Seasonal inventory differs from cycle stock (standard working stock) and safety stock since it is stored in excess to reduce the risk of stockouts brought on by unforeseen changes in supply and demand. And indeed, a company can maintain seasonal and safety inventory simultaneously.
Seasonality occurs for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Items that depend on specific weather conditions to become available are said to be seasonal. Examples include most fruits and vegetables, which mature only when several weather conditions are met. Cold beverages and ice cream are a perfect example of this behaviour during the summer.
- Customs and traditions play a significant role in seasonality, driving the demand for particular products at particular seasons. Examples of custom-driven seasonal items include ethnic wear for Diwali and Rakhi for Raksha Bandhan.Recurring variations in population cause seasonality. For instance, the demand for rental homes in resort cities is correlated with the holiday season, attracting travellers yearly.
- Although income availability is a more subtle form of seasonality, business analysts and strategists value it highly. For instance, the seasonality element gives way to the well-known notion that consumers are more likely to spend money on their payday.
Industry-Recommended Best Practices for Better Seasonal Inventory Management
Forecast seasonal demand and sales using data
Analysing demand forecasts is the first step in optimising your seasonal inventory management. You will need data to determine what kind and goods to purchase for the Diwali season. You can use this information to modify your inventory purchases for the past seasonal goods you’ve sold and intend to sell again this season.
Let’s assume that you have been selling sustainable ethnic clothing for the past three years. Using this information, you can determine the minimum stock level for the current holiday season by looking at the year with the fewest sales.
- Monitoring inventory fluctuations
Maintaining low inventory levels is a valid and economical method of managing your inventory, as long as you have a strategy to replenish it and fulfil new customers.
Due to the unpredictable nature of demand throughout the Festive season and the potential for you to lose business. As a result, it is also common to feel anxious about low inventory levels. However, two strategies can be helpful in this situation.
- The first is to manually check inventory levels for sudden drops each day while keeping an eye on daily inventory levels.
- The second strategy, automation, is undoubtedly more modern and time-efficient. You can automatically track inventory dips and receive alerts whenever a certain threshold is reached; the ideal way to control demand fluctuations is to partner with an e-commerce inventory management platform.
Leveraging seasonal demand
You can cut your inventory holding expenses by taking advantage of the seasonal demand wave.
What are the best ways to utilise your old inventory? For instance, there are situations where obsolete inventory might be offered as a complement to your newest or best-selling products. This is a fantastic chance to provide these products with steep discounts and quickly turn a profit. If not, you can always use your old stock to reward and keep your clients loyal while also starting lead-generation initiatives.
An omnichannel strategy is a fantastic choice if you run a growing e-commerce business and feel overwhelmed by the amount of sales channels you serve. You will have access to several fulfilment facilities and connections with significant shipping carriers by working with a competent 3PL. Instead of fulfilling orders yourself, an Omnichannel Fulfilment can assist in getting your products—B2B or B2C—into the hands of your clients more quickly and for less money.
Automate sales reporting
One of the essential jobs for the day after the holiday season is inventory and sales reporting. Everyone is interested in their performance at the end. Now that we know the “dirty” datasets and congested spreadsheets that many eCommerce businesses deal with, we think the holiday season gives us a great chance to try something different. You may choose your favourite seasonal product and keep track of them separately, or you might make a particular reporting pipeline just for the holiday season.
You must incorporate your payment and e-commerce platforms with an appropriate reporting tool to simplify reporting. This is useful for gathering all the information in one location and having it available for reporting day.
An additional choice is to utilise an analytics dashboard to compile all the data you require onto a single screen. Easyecom, which also has a native Shopify integration, is one of a few products that can achieve this. You will save time by streamlining your inventory and sales reporting when most eCommerce managers and owners are exhausted from all the activity around the holiday shopping season.
Plan discounts early
Ecommerce managers know that most customers anticipate seeing significant discounts on seasonal items as soon as the holidays are gone. The challenge is figuring out the appropriate discount levels for selling whatever inventory you have left. Discount levels can be affected by various factors, such as transportation costs, the seasonality of the products, the cost of maintaining inventory, and profit margins. These will be useful in outlining various discount levels and their effects.
A clever tactic is to develop various email marketing campaigns that target multiple market segments and advertise different discount levels. Or, an A/B test for discounts throughout the postseason. You can determine which discount level leads to the greatest interaction and sales once you have the results in your hands.
Due to the numerous components and duties involved, managing seasonal inventory can be difficult, especially with the short lead time before the holiday season begins. It’s very feasible that you already have a working knowledge of some of the aforementioned procedures, but as activity increases, so does the quantity of problems to be resolved. Our final advice is to maintain the list of suggestions before beginning the tasks. In one way or another, the holiday season is all about these, and they will work their magic for you.