Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Christmas; there are numerous holidays and national events that cause consumers to expect sales. At this point in our culture, retail stores can't just use these dates as a suggestion to offer special promotions, they have to participate to keep up with competition.
Retail inventory management during national sales events is full of unique challenges beyond increased demand. A store must do its very best to ensure its hallways don't look like barren wastelands after floods of shoppers move through the space. Here are three ways automated data collection solutions can help stores profit from national sales events:
1. Prepare Suppliers
To ensure a store has the inventory it needs, it has to work with suppliers to provide merchandise for national sales events. Businesses have to understand vendors work with numerous stores. Organizations should establish strong relationships before seasons of high demand to encourage suppliers to prioritize the retail store's needs when multiple businesses make contact.
Companies should start communications with the suppliers off on the right foot. When negotiating initial contracts, businesses should immediately communicate projected needs for periods of increased demand. If warehouse management utilizes an automated data collection solution, it can create accurate information of current operations and use the details to communicate expectations.
Organizations also have to understand the vendor's operations. Supply Chain 24/7 said companies should study suppliers before making contact and keep all relevant information visible to negotiators during future interactions. When it comes time to strike terms for national events, a retailer that demonstrates understanding of the suppliers' needs is more likely to get favorable conditions for its own demands.
2. Invest in New Inventory Strategies
Stores don't often have the inventory management skills of warehouses. Employee who work retail spaces don't have the time or resources to devote their attention to product handling and movement. Even if a space has a warehouse team on-site, front-end employees need to communicate in consistent terms to keep merchandise flowing through the space at rapid speeds.
There are numerous automated data collection solutions that make inventory management easier for everyone. Retail warehouse workers may use voice picking technologies to keep their hands free. Employees walking the sales floor could check mobile tablets to see merchandise levels. Team members can utilize barcode scanners to communicate product handling, whether they are pulling items from shelves or taking in customer returns.
It's important every team member sees the same data. The information captured by mobile data collection devices has to be consistent and flexible. Not only must managers program systems with inventory language utilized by every member of the company, but the data has to adapt to special pricing and shelving demands during national events.
3. Keep the Future in Mind
As soon as Black Friday is over, Small Business Saturday begins. Both these dates take place one month before Christmas, which is a month before Presidents Day. A store can't pour all of its inventory and business resources into getting through a single national sales event because another one is usually just around the corner.
The information collected during sales events is critical to future performance. Fortune explained how insight into consumer behavior allows stores to display hot sellers in high-traffic areas and prepare the necessary inventory. Knowing which items people want during certain seasons allows organizations to prep their warehouse management strategies in advance.
An automated data collection solution provides performance in the present, insight into the past and inspiration for the future. A connected information system can improve business practices year round, but an upcoming national sales event might be the inspiration a retailer needs to invest in inventory innovation.