This is a guest post provided by Ecomdash.
For ecommerce, busy periods are high risk, high reward. If all goes well, you’ll enjoy not just an increase in sales, but also new customers who discovered you during the rush. But if your inventory is not prepared, you risk overselling, shortages, and making a bad impression on first-time shoppers.
If you can anticipate an influx of shoppers, such as before the holiday season or a special promotion, then you can make sure your inventory is ready in time. Here are 3 tips on preparing your ecommerce inventory for busy periods and big sales.
Each ecommerce brand is unique, from their specific product ranges, branding, and target customer base. When it’s time to predict which items will sell and how many, you shouldn’t rely on generic estimates — the most reliable data is always your own.
For a yearly sales period like the holiday or back-to-school seasons, check your sales data from that previous year to estimate how much stock you’ll need for each product. Numbers won’t be exactly the same year after year, but they’ll provide a solid foundation to start forecasting.
If there’s a big sale or promotion on the horizon, look at data from similar promotions. These may require more guesswork and experimentation, but at least you don’t need to start from scratch.
You never want to order new stock at the last minute. Based on your previous sales data, restock all relevant products at least two months in advance. For starters, it’s one less thing to worry about, but more importantly you have some breathing room in case something goes wrong.
If you’re preparing for an ongoing busy period like the holiday season, reevaluate your stock levels every few weeks to make sure you’re still on track. You may discover certain products are selling better than you expected, in which case it’s not too late to order a few more.
Overselling is one of the greatest threats to online retailers — an out-of-stock message is bad enough, but if your customer completes a sale only to have it canceled later because of stock outage, chances are they won’t shop with you ever again.
Monitoring your stock levels is vital, but updating each product on each channel for every single sale is not a good use of your time. It’s easier to incorporate inventory management software to update all your stock levels automatically and in real time.
If you sell on multiple channels, automating stock levels is a huge time-saver, especially if you sell a wide range of products. Even if you only sell on one channel, manually changing stock levels is time best spent elsewhere, especially during a busy period. This kind of busy work is what automation is for.
Inventory management is challenging, even for seasoned sellers — for first-time retailers, it can be pretty overwhelming. Take a look at the best inventory management practices for beginners to help you get started on the right foot.