Just two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic–and its ensuing limited product availability –had US consumers flocking to the digital space for their holiday shopping. A year later, even though stores were open for in-store shopping, many preferred the convenience of perusing from home. Online retail sales in 2021 topped an unprecedented $207 billion, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday hitting massive single-day highs.
You can leverage your eCommerce power this holiday season to increase your annual sales. Granted, it’ll be a chaotic, often last-minute ride requiring you to be on top of your game.
This guide will outline how you can set yourself up for success by ensuring consistent product availability. You can glide through the holiday season more smoothly with the right tools and strategies.
Why Stock Alerts Are Important
The holidays are one of the most difficult times to maintain effective, accurate stock management. You know it as well as we do: when the stock goes, it goes quickly. Unfortunately, ordering and replenishing inventory is slower due to factory shutdowns, manufacturing backlogs, and transport delays. This makes it crucial to plan ahead and have a system that allows you to manage supply and demand effectively.
In the same breath, manual inventory tracking has become obsolete in the digital world. If you want to compete in an online market, an automated eCommerce inventory management system must be part of your stock management strategy. This enables you to receive real-time stock alerts that are necessary to:
- Avoid inconsistent stock levels
- Streamline multichannel product availability
- Minimize stock-taking errors
- Prevent fulfillment delays
- Reduce warehouse miscommunication
A tool like Smart Merchandiser automates stock alerts to notify you when inventory is running low. That allows you to restock or adjust your marketing or eCommerce layout strategy timely. Doing so improves the customer experience and prevents profits from being left on the table.
The tool also allows your customers to see which products are running low. This creates a sense of urgency to complete their purchase before another shopper snags it.
You can customize stock alerts with Smart Merchandiser to suit your business needs. For example, its stale inventory alerts can notify you when to start moving aging stock at a discount. Additionally, you can automate customer alerts when items are back in stock. These notifications can help you compensate for lost opportunities when inventory was low.
Implement Demand Forecasting
The holidays will push your demand into overdrive if you’re a brick-and-mortar with an online presence or an eCommerce store. With too little product availability, you fail to deliver customer orders on time. With too much inventory, you’ve wasted your budget on stock that won’t move. Hitting the right balance requires advanced planning and accurate forecasting.
Here’s the good news: effectively predicting stock demand doesn’t have to be a guessing game. You can find the supply sweet spot by considering previous sales data and identifying consumer behavior patterns. You’ll also need to factor in changing trends and ensure you view past data in context.
During the pandemic, there may have been a surge in fabric or surgical mask sales, however, this year, that won’t be the case. This is a contextual factor, not a repetitive pattern. As with anything in life, context is everything.
Conversely, you may notice a consistently higher demand for woollies between November and January each year. So, get stocked up on your woollies, but consider that color or style trends may differ from last season.
Demand forecasting isn’t only important to ensure you have enough stock for the holiday season. It also allows you to optimize your eCommerce storefront, product bundle offers, and catalog layout to boost seasonal item sales.
Implement Cart Abandonment Notifications
If you’re an eCommerce store owner, you’re probably not surprised that cart abandonments outpace conversions.
There are many reasons why users abandon purchases after starting the checkout process. They can include:
- Excessive shipping costs
- Slow delivery
- Complicated checkout processes
- Website errors or slow loading
- Not enough payment options
- Complicated return policies
- Payment decline
Keeping your customer engaged while they are ready to purchase is key. You can send users automated notifications about their failed purchases and offer checkout assistance. Personalized notifications with images of the products in their abandoned carts can help keep the customer journey alive. You may also want to include product availability notices and holiday shipping deadlines to foster a sense of urgency.
Make Inventory Management and Merchandising Work Together
Over the holiday season, customers who shop in brick-and-mortar stores are generally greeted with festive decorations, a buzzing atmosphere, and easy viewing of product availability via stocked store shelves. Giving your online shoppers the same kind of festive experience (without the chaos) is challenging but possible with the right tools.
Your eCommerce home page or landing page is your storefront display window. When built strategically, it is a powerful tool to draw consumers in by connecting them with the right products. Essentially, eCommerce merchandising should effectively guide users through their consumer journeys.
When deciding which items to showcase front and center, you must be careful not to drive customers toward low or no-stock items. It would be best if you also promote high-stock products. Inventory management is a key part of effective eCommerce merchandising.
By combining inventory management with your eCommerce holiday merchandising strategy, you can determine the most popular items and ensure they are always featured at the top of your catalog.
With an AI automation tool that tracks page visits, clicks, and purchases, you can use real-time insights to pinpoint potential revenue boosters and strategically display your catalog items. You can also replace out-of-stock items with overstocked products and run discount promotions. This will ensure you maximize revenue without losing income due to stale stock or a less-than-stellar marketing strategy.
Leveraging inventory insights to drive the consumer journey won’t only help you make the most of increased seasonal demands. It will help you achieve a near-perfect balance between stock intake and sales.
Be Ready for the Holiday Rush With Smart Merchandiser
With pandemic restrictions finally out of the way this holiday season, people are looking forward to making up for missed celebrations. Shoppers will make use of new multi-channel conveniences by shopping online and in-store. Making it easy for consumers to get what they want when they need it without hassle gives you a competitive edge in the marketplace.
With Smart Merchandiser, you can incorporate AI automation to ensure consistent, accurate product availability across platforms. This effective eCommerce store management tool optimizes inventory analysis, allowing you to maximize your merchandising cycle this holiday season.
Identifying customer needs will also ensure a better, more personalized user experience. Keeping customers happy over the festive season can drive loyalty in the new year and beyond.
Smart Merchandiser offers a user-friendly dashboard with customizable features to your needs. With practically no training required to get started, there’s time for you to make the most of this holiday season’s sales opportunities. Chat with a Smart Merchandiser team member and boost your bottom line with improved stock availability and strategic visual merchandising today.