How to manage peaks in seasonal sales
With Christmas now a distant memory, retailers across the UK are busy gearing up for the key events of Spring 2020 – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. The fulfilment experts at Hallmark Consumer Services provide the key points to consider when preparing for peaks in seasonal sales.
For many retailers, managing fluctuations in seasonal demand can be a challenge, meaning advance preparation is essential in order to effectively cope with peaks in troughs in sales. Here are a few tips to help you get ahead of the game:
The first step is identifying which of your products are affected by seasonal demand, and using past data to determine the predicted popularity and sales of these items.
Retailers have long looked at historic sales patterns to deduce trends in purchases and buyer behaviour, but the rise of multichannel commerce means real-time data must be used in order to get a good understanding of the amount of stock you expect to sell. This means tracking the success of your current or ongoing marketing promotions, analysing the external environment, including political, economic and technological factors and influences, and keeping a close eye on social media and online trends.
Hallmark’s sophisticated reporting system allows us to accurately analyse and forecast future sales and demand using real-time data, which enables us and our clients to prepare well in advance for predicted peaks – or troughs – in sales.
Get stocked up
Thorough sales forecasting will help your business to ensure it has adequate stock and resources to cope with increased sales and prevent a build-up of residual seasonal stock with a short shelf life.
Having a robust inventory management system in place will allow you to track your goods throughout your supply chain, monitor stock levels and facilitate stock replenishment.
Careful stock management is key if you rely on numerous suppliers to manufacture your products, as companies will need enough time to react to increases in demand. By giving suppliers advance warning of expected sales peaks, you help to protect and build relationships and are more likely to get your customers’ orders delivered to them on time.
It is also important to get your stock into your warehouse as early as possible so quality controls and checks can be done in good time, meaning it is all available for sale.
If you find you have excess stock, begin offering discounts or promotions a few days (or hours) before the end of the event or season, to push sales and prevent the accumulation of dead stock.
During busy periods, an organised warehouse is crucial. Products should be systematically labelled to improve picking, packing and shipping times and make the process as smooth and straightforward as possible for staff.
Locate your bestselling seasonal goods in the most convenient and accessible places in your warehouse and near loading areas to make picking as efficient as possible.
Hallmark’s fully automated state-of-the-art warehousing system manages orders from each of your sales channels and moves them through each stage of our warehouse from order receipt to despatch, allowing us to efficiently handle refunds, swaps, returns of multiple deliveries on the same order.
Gather your resources
As well as managing your stock levels, you should also consider whether you require additional storage space and staff in order to effectively respond to an increase in demand. With products like alcohol or dangerous goods, it is essential that warehouse staff are fully trained in safely handling and storing the items.
Working with a fulfilment partner such as Hallmark means you’ll have a ready-made workforce on hand, which can be scaled up or down flexibly and according to your requirements. This reduces your need to take on and train any temporary staff during your busier periods, saving you time and resources.
Perfect your packaging
Sourcing adequate packaging well in advance of any retail event or season is also something to remember, particularly if you are using limited edition packaging or providing a gift-wrapping service to customers. Again, you should consider the number of trained staff you have available to fulfil this service at the highest standard.
Customers are more attuned than ever to retailers’ use of packaging, so consider using more environmentally friendly packaging solutions wherever possible. Hallmark works hard to source the best sustainable packaging options at the best price for each of our clients, to help them move away from plastics and reduce their carbon footprint. Our clients also benefit from packaging and shipping discounts available to us.
Coping with quieter periods
As your business grows, you will get to know your seasonal product cycle and will be better able to anticipate when your peaks and troughs will be. This will enable you to plan promotional and marketing activity strategically, so you are offering discounts and deals to customers during quieter periods. Building up your customer base during quieter weeks or months means that they will be there ready for sales during your peak or target seasons.
Be prepared to handle any refund and exchange requests following a spike in orders, as well as any customer complaints and enquiries. Having a live chat feature on your website provides customers with an easy and convenient way of contacting you, and may improve levels of customer satisfaction.
Let Hallmark take the hassle away
Hallmark’s flexible approach to order fulfilment means our clients can ‘pick and mix’ solutions which can be tailored to support trading patterns, products and volumes. Outsourcing your fulfilment needs, whether this is warehousing, order processing or customer services, can take the weight off your shoulders and allow you to concentrate on running your business and maximising sales during your best performing periods.
Get in touch
For a friendly chat about how Hallmark can help you effectively manage peaks and troughs in seasonal sales, and prepare for seasonal events, please give us a call on 01664 485 000 or send us an online enquiry.