Festive Season Inventory Management: A Practical Guide for Independent Retailers
19 September 2023
While the back-to-school season is in full swing, most retailers are already starting to prepare for the year’s busiest time — From now on it’s jingle all the way until Christmas! And although no one is quite ready to listen to “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat just yet, it’s crucial to start implementing a festive-season plan to ensure your success. As always, we’re here to help!
In this article, our experts share their tips and tricks to help you manage your inventory effectively in the run-up to the festive season. Whether you’re analysing past years, organising storage space, or adapting to current trends… Our best advice is to stay zen and follow the guide!
- 1. Take time to analyse: previous years and current needs
- 2. Think strategically: categorise your products correctly
- 3. Dates to diarises: plan for success
- 4. Flexibility and agility
- 5. Organise your storage space
- 6. Communicate (all the time, and with everyone)
- 7. Digitalise your processes
- 8. Stay alert: take note of expiration dates and cash flow
1. Take time to analyse: previous years and current needs
a) Back to the future
The best way to prepare for the festive season is to look at trends from previous years. Take stock of past years, dive into your data and define the following:
- Seasonal Trends
- Unique needs
- Holiday demand flows
This will give you an indication of what to expect in 2023.
b) Be present
Don’t get so overwhelmed by planning for the future that you forget to focus on what is in front of you: Simply start by taking stock of your current inventory and listing:
- What do you have?
- What you don’t have?
- What do you need to restock?
Identify the flagship products that absolutely must be available on your shelves in the run-up to Christmas. In addition, identify which products are less successful during the festive season and can therefore be put on hold while your best-sellers take centre stage.
2. Think strategically: categorise your products correctly
a) Efficient classification
Sort your products according to their relevance to the holiday season. Focus your stock management and sourcing efforts on these categories. In this way, you can make sure that you’re stocked-up with all your best-sellers.
Next, create themed bundles to encourage complementary sales. And lastly, be strategic in introducing targeted discounts on certain categories.
If you decide to add new products to your assortment, decide in advance how to integrate them into your existing categories, while promoting them to your customers.
3. Dates to diarises: plan for success
a) Plan your calendar
To make sure you don’t get overwhelmed, we advise you to plan your calendar carefully, starting now until the end of the holiday season. For example, draw up a detailed ordering schedule according to your suppliers’ delivery times, to avoid stock-outs.
By meticulously planning your day-to-day schedule, you’ll be ready for the unexpected since everything else is perfectly in place.
b) Strategic reminders
Once you’ve filled in your order calendar, it’s also a good idea to schedule regular reminders to check your stock levels during the holiday season. During this very busy period, with a million things requiring your attention, this will ensure you stay on top of everything.
4. Flexibility and agility
a) Flexibility is key
It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, there’s sure to be a few curve balls coming your way. The most important thing is to adapt. If some of your products don’t meet your expectations or don’t keep up with your sales predictions, don’t get stuck! For example, think about offering discounts or adjustment to your prices to avoid unsold or leftover stock.
b) Keep an eye on trends
Your store might be subject to seasonal trends. Follow your plan, of course, but also keep an eye on your competitors and what is happening in the industry. Don’t hesitate to make the necessary adjustments to your stock if it means you can benefit in the long run.
Ankorstore best practice
Throughout the year, we offer you brand selections based on current trade events. From now, you can discover our special holiday selections including “Gifts ideas“, “Decorations” and “Festive meals” until December. We’ve carefully curated these collections so you have access to all the products perfectly suited to the season and your unique needs.
5. Organise your storage space
In the midst of the mad rush that comes with holiday craziness, your storage space can quickly become a nightmare to navigate. This year, get organised ahead of time! Make sure every product is easily accessible (and easy to find) for smooth inventory management. Here are a few techniques you can implement:
- Create a special holiday zone: This makes it easier to find products and saves precious time when your shop is busy.
- Be precise when labelling your products.
- Organise your products according to demand (the most popular brands and best sellers should be the most accessible).
- Set up a well-organised order-collection area to minimise errors during the rush.
- Use transparent containers for small items or accessories. (Genius, right?)
- Take a few minutes (either after closing or before opening) at regular intervals to maintain the space and keep it optimally organised.
6. Communicate (all the time, and with everyone)
a) Collaborate with your team
In the run-up to the festive season, organise moments of reflection and sharing with your team. Clarify your strategy, explain the actions to be taken as you approach Christmas, and make sure that your staff understand your ordering and stocking organisation.
b) Strong partnerships with your suppliers
Remember, your suppliers are also entering their most important (and busiest) time of the year. So be sure to contact them proactively and discuss the following:
- Your upcoming needs
- Changes in the volume and frequency of orders
- Adjustments or changes in their delivery times, so that you can prepare accordingly
Ankorstore best practice
Did you know that you can contact brands directly from the platform? Just go to their store page and click on “Contact brand” – it’s as easy as that!
7. Digitalise your processes
Utilise the technological tools available to retailers today to automate and simplify your inventory and order tracking. This software provides a great way to analyse your data in real-time, so you can forecast demand and optimise your ordering strategy. Investigate which options are available, and pick the one most suitable for your specific needs.
8. Stay alert: take note of expiration dates and cash flow
a) Expiration dates
If your business offers products with expiry dates (like groceries or beauty products), keep a close eye on your perishable products before and during the holiday season. This will help you avoid losses. To do this, consider using the “FIFO” (First In, First Out) technique to ensure that the oldest products are sold first.
b) Cash management
The holiday season is always a critical time for independent retailers’ cash flow. Beforehand, plan your cash flow, taking into account your purchasing costs, stocking costs etc. Also, explore financing strategies to meet your needs during peak periods. Finally, optimise your purchasing by negotiating with your suppliers to obtain favourable terms and payment deadlines.
Ankorstore best practice
Eligible independent retailers benefit from payment terms of up to 60 days on orders placed via the platform. Ankorstore Plus subscribers can benefit from payment terms of up to 90 days. Read more about it in our FAQs.
You can also ask Ankorstore partner brands to offer you customised discounts on their product catalogues. Find out more in our FAQ section.
In summary, we advise you to follow these 8 inventory management strategies for a successful festive season: analysis of your sales history, categorisation of your products, detailed planning for restocking, flexibility, organisation of your storage space, communication with your teams and suppliers, digitalisation of your process and vigilance around products with expiration dates and cash flow.
By combining meticulous organising with up-to-date knowledge of your products and trends, you’re ready to successfully manage your inventory during this crucial period.
We wish you every success for the coming holiday season!
For more tips on preparing your store for Christmas, check out these blog posts: