It’s that time of year again – the dust has settled on the annual ‘too soon?’ media narrative after the fruit mince pies have hit the grocery store shelves; the warm weather’s sparking daydreams about tropical, end of year holidays; and staff in corporate offices are locking down dates for the work Christmas party.
For retailers however, this is the time of year things really start to ramp up (as we all wonder where on earth the year has gone).
So are you ready for the 2017 pre-Christmas sales period?
Who’s your front of house?
Being able to attract the biggest slice of the pie possible depends on being able to properly service increased customer needs.
Now is the time to start recruiting for the best casuals with great customer service skills and who won’t crack under pressure, but it can be tricky to quantify just how many more staff you’ll need, so be realistic about how many staff you’d generally need on the floor when you’re at your busiest, and base your estimates around that.
And to make sure any of your permanent staff requesting annual leave have done so already.
Website, Insta, FB, YouTube, and what to do if it all goes pear-shape
Do you have a full contingency plan in place if something goes wrong with any of your digital channels, or your banking facilities? Troubleshoot now, make sure you have a well-coordinated operation, and road test your back up plan for if your e-commerce and payment portals go on strike.
Failing to plan is planning to fail – if you can’t meet demand, the demand will go elsewhere.
Use the tools and track what’s hot
This is also one of the best times for data collection – who are your customers and what are they buying? What’s hot and what’s not? There are incredible tools available to enhance your data capture, which will shape next year’s plan.
SALE – See And Like Everything?
This is the one time of year a huge percentage of foot traffic will be ready to spend, so think about clever ways to make sure it’s with you.
Leverage your offerings and social presence with other businesses for shared promotions, utilise your databases to reach shoppers with offers to benefit both of you, focus on deals that have a shelf life (like one-day offers), and empower your team to be able to add further value to shoppers once they’re in store.
If you have stock that’s not moving well, this can be the time to move it on at a discounted rate (without compromising your bottom line). Slow-moving stock is really just cash tied up on your shelves. It’s likely to be heavily discounted in January, so try and move it now to create more cash flow to channel back into better stock and more staff.
Stock and cash flow
You can achieve more sales, boosted profit and increased inward cash flow with adequate preparation – so do your cash flow forecast now.
Understanding how much stock you’ll need and how you’ll pay for it is crucial, but you’ll also need to think about alternate suppliers in case you need a back-up, and make sure they have good credit lines so you’re not left in the lurch.
Staying well-stocked is crucial, so frequent ordering can help reduce the pressure of stock overload. Also confirm your access to working capital, in case you need to buy more than anticipated – you don’t find yourself without the stock with the highest margins, in your busiest time of year.
And don’t think customers are the only ones in line for good deals – don’t be afraid to ask your good suppliers what discounts and deals they can do for you!
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.