This guest post has been written by our partners at Huboo.
All retail businesses witness sales peaks and slumps throughout the year and the timing of these can vary depending on the type of products you are selling. For most, the highest sales peak will be seasonal, between Black Friday and the January when consumers are shopping for Christmas gifts, but for others it may be the summer months or even a specific holiday such as Mother’s Day. As a new business, predicting and preparing for these peaks can be a huge challenge and neglecting to put processes in place when managing inventory and fulfilment could even be potentially damaging.
Fortunately, if you are using a third-party fulfilment partner like Huboo, we do much of the work for you – allocating additional staff to the account, ordering in more packing supplies, and liaising with the couriers to keep you informed of any expected delays and service cut-off dates in the lead up to the national holidays. Here are our expert’s top tips for successfully preparing for the peak season:
Increase your stock levels
Many businesses will work on a lean inventory model to ensure cash is not tied up in excess stock and storage, however when it comes to peak season, not having enough product in stock may lead to you missing out on potential revenue. We offer our clients free storage for 2 months on all stock, giving you plenty of time to send us your product in preparation. Having an organised and strategic plan is essential, as you may also have to consider that your supplier lead times may be longer, with other brands experiencing a similar peak.
Similarly, if you have any inaccuracies in your inventory figures or damaged stock, then these issues are likely to be compounded. This can result in an increase in orders needing full or partial refunds and more customer service tickets, so ensuring you have an effective goods-in process when managing inventory and fulfilment is important.
If you are looking at making any significant changes to your fulfilment process – from new branded packaging, to onboarding with a fulfilment partner for the first time – make sure you are pro-active and start your journey well in advance. Significant peaks are unlikely to be exclusive to your business, and others will be making these decisions around the same time which can cause delays. The best rule of thumb is to start the conversations as early as possible and to maintain contact, particularly where a fulfilment provider is concerned.
Notifying us about which products are likely to be discounted and when, as well as any other predictions you may have, will help enable us to plan more accurately, to ensure a smooth and consistent service. Goods-in teams will also be much busier at these times, so make sure to send your extra product in plenty of time.
Many sales peaks are often internationally relevant. If you are expecting an increase in international orders, it may be worth looking at expanding your fulfilment centre network to pack and dispatch orders from a local centre, which can reduce delivery times and costs. Huboo have warehouses in the UK, Spain, The Netherlands and Germany which can be managed from one central dashboard for consistent processing throughout Europe.
Coordinate your marketing activity
Over the last few years, even Black Friday has become lengthened from a single day of sales to a 4-day campaign ending on Cyber Monday, with some retailers and marketplaces even offering discounts and offers for a full week. Although increasingly common, offering the same discounts and deals throughout campaigns like this is not essential. Being flexible can give you greater freedom to direct sales towards product ranges that have more stock available, or to space out any special activity throughout the quarter.
To make the most of these sales peaks, ensure your marketing activity is aligned with your operations and purchasing processes from the start, with robust post purchase messaging built in to ensure customers return.
Due to the number of businesses that are likely facing a similar increase in sales, couriers are going to be experiencing additional pressures and delivery times may be longer than usual. So long as is communicated at the point of purchase and parcel tracking information is available, most consumers are happy to wait for the additional time.
At Huboo, we have strong relationships with a network of couriers to ensure we are able to offer the most efficient delivery option at the time. It then helps us to stay informed about any disruptions to their usual service, which is then shared with you through your Huboo dashboard. It is then up to you to communicate this to your customers.
Managing inventory and fulfilment with Huboo
In the UK alone, the sales value of Black Friday weekend is set to be worth approximately £9.42bn (Statista, 2021) with over 60% of shoppers likely to choose to shop online over bricks & mortar stores. Following these important steps is essential in effectively preparing to take full advantage of this opportunity.
If you are interested in working with Huboo to assist in managing inventory and fulfilment, and would like to discuss how we can help your business streamline your back office with our unique Micro Hub model, we are offering SimplyVAT.com customers an extra month FREE storage and £100 FREE subscription credit when they start their fulfilment journey before 1st July 2022, plus
- FREE goods in
- FREE integrations
- 3 months FREE storage (for SimplyVAT.com customers only)
- Dedicated Hub Manager acting as an extension of your inhouse team
- Transparent pricing
- Access to our Global courier network