Online shoppers spend an average of nearly £300 online in the run-up to Christmas, and this year it’s expected to be even higher. What’s even better is that small eCommerce businesses are getting a slice of the Christmas pudding, seeing their sales increase over the festive season.
But while additional sales are at the top of every eCommerce entrepreneur’s Christmas list, they come with additional listings, orders, shipping, invoicing and data to enter into your inventory, accounting and reporting software. That’s a lot of time to magic-up in a season fully of parties, nativity plays and your own Christmas shopping. But don’t despair.
We’ve got the e-retail tips that will give you the gift of extra sales and extra time this Christmas.
Tip#1 Swap frenzy for routine
It’s all too easy to get into a pre-Christmas frenzy, no matter how much you promised to be more organised this year. And, as seasonal orders build up, it only gets worse. But it’s never too late to implement a routine into the chaos.
The tighter your routine, the quicker you will become at fulfilling your orders, the greater the chance you will keep on top of stock levels, and the less chance that you will make mistakes costing time and reputation. Here’s how:
Think your activities through
What do you need to do? What should you do if you get the chance? And what can wait until January or be cut out completely?
Implement an order
Once you know what you do and do not need to do, you can think about what order you need to do them in. Are you going to work sales channel by sales channel – logging into each one, processing orders and then moving onto the next one? Are you going to process all of the orders for one product and then start again with the following product? Or, are you going to use multichannel management software to work across all sales channel(s) simultaneously. Find a routine that works and then keep to it.
Don’t get distracted
We know it’s easier said than done (especially when re-runs of Elf are on the TV) but once you’ve established your routine, complete it before you move onto Christmas films, mince pie eating and present wrapping. Leaving things half finished only leads to mistakes, oversights and unhappy customers.
Tip#2 – Tidy up for Christmas
You might be saving your spring clean for spring, but all the best eCommerce entrepreneurs are using the festive season to tidy up and stay tidy. Organise your workspace and workflow by:
Get rid of the things you don’t need to do your job and keep hold of the things you do. That includes stationary, letters, software, emails and processes; if there’s software out there that can bulk print your shipping labels, stop doing it manually.
Arrange everything you’re keeping so that it’s easy to hand when and where you need it. This is a perfect opportunity to review your workflow and order processing to make it as efficient and lean as possible.
Once your workspace and workflow is tidy, keep it that way. Spend time each day leaving your workspace how you found it and spend time once a week filing your emails, letters and paperwork.
Get everyone else on board with your new efficient way of working so that as soon as those Christmas orders come in, you’re all ready to get them out.
Tip#3 – Manage your multi-channel inventory levels closely
One of your biggest headaches will no doubt be maintaining your multichannel inventory levels. Not only does poor inventory management lose you valuable sales, but it also affects your reputation and costs you time. So what can you do to improve the management of your inventory levels?
Consider how often you monitor each of your channels
You might not need to check your sales channel(s) so regularly normally, but Christmas time is different. Check and update your inventory levels on each channel to ensure that you don’t become out of stock or, even worse, sell the same product twice.
Think about how much stock you’re keeping
Forward planning is crucial at this time of year. You may need to increase the inventory you hold for certain products and decrease it for others. Use reporting software or Excel to list your SKUs and use last year’s sales data to predict the stock you’ll need this year, remembering to take any promotions, fashions and trends into account. And, keep this year’s data for next year too.
Set minimum reorder points for each of your SKUs
Set minimum reorder points for each SKU, based on previous years’ data, to trigger replacement item orders, taking into account shipping times.
Tip#4 – Don’t overbuy just because it’s Christmas
Everyone knows how easy it is to overbuy at Christmas time, but as an online seller this is something you should try to avoid. It’s all too easy to buy too much, to prevent overselling, and then struggle in January to sell the excess.
Inventory management is always a tradeoff between inventory costs (how much money you have tied up in inventory) and stock-out costs (the costs in terms of loss of income and reputation when you become out of stock). So how can you avoid over-buying?
Plan your stock
Understand which stock gives you good profits, which stock sells well and which stock does both. Cut out lines that continuously sit in the bottom 20% in terms of sales volumes and profit. They may be your favourites, but if they’re not moving, they’re sitting on money that you could invest in stock that will give you a better return.
Don’t fall prey to bulk deals
The closer you get to Christmas, the keener distributors and manufacturers will be to shift their own stock through bulk discount deals. Unless you know that you can sell this stock and get your money back without tying up your capital, avoid.
One more thing
Organisation, planning, inventory management and efficient workflows are critical to successfully completing the seasonal period, but they can be challenging to get right. Luckily, there are tools out there to help manage the increased workload while decreasing your efforts. Speak to us about a 14-day free trial to see how Expandly can help.
Expandly is a multichannel management software platform, dedicated to helping small businesses navigate the festive period. Manage your listings, orders, inventory, shipping and reporting, across multiple sales channel(s) from one central platform.