The holiday season is just around the corner, which means if you’re a business owner and you haven’t planned for the peak sales period yet, it’s time to start now. During one of the busiest and most competitive times of the year, eCommerce and wholesale businesses alike need smart sales forecasting, inventory management strategies, and promotional efforts to keep customers happy and maximize profits.

Here are some of the key steps to meeting your sales goals this holiday season.

Use reporting to forecast sales and inventory

Organising sales and planning for inventory is crucial to staying afloat over the holiday period. Set aside time to look at historical sales data and utilize your inventory management system’s reporting capabilities to predict overall sales figures and popular products, as well as how much stock you’ll need to have on hand to meet demand.

While sales and inventory forecasting might seem like something best left to your accountant, you can easily use tools like TradeGecko’s sales and inventory forecast template to input base data about your sales and inventory, and glean useful information from automatically generated reports, such as how much stock you should order and when, as well as your projected seasonal revenue and cash burn rate.

Set seasonal sales goals and budget

Once you have a good understanding of your projected sales figures and required inventory for the holiday season, set some goals for the period and plan out how much you will need to spend to make sure those theoretical sales become a reality. Consider expenses associated with marketing campaigns, any new staff hires, and improvements to products or customer experience you want to make before the holiday season begins.

Plan promotional strategies

Almost every business out there will be boosting their promotional efforts during the holiday season, so it’s important to plan ahead and make sure your strategy is well thought-out and ready to be executed.

Focus on your USP (unique selling proposition) and showcase what you can offer that other businesses can’t, such as holiday-specific products, new lines, and product bundles. Undercutting competitors with lower shipping rates and other special offers is a good way to compel customers to choose your business over the alternative.

Create a process for backorders, returns, and exchanges

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without stock-outs and a big increase in returns and exchanges. Organize a designated holding location for returns so that they can efficiently be inspected and resold. Enabling backorders also means that even if you don’t have an item in stock, customers can still place an order – which you can fulfill when you receive more stock, or returned / exchanged items become ready for resale.

Inventory management software like TradeGecko helps streamline the returns and exchanges process by automatically updating in the system when a product is returned, meaning products are ready to be sold again as quickly as possible.

Outline your fulfillment workflow

A streamlined fulfillment process is key to keeping customers happy – especially during a busy and often stressful time of year. Ensure you have your entire fulfillment workflow mapped out ahead of time so you can stick to your stated delivery timeframes.

If your forecast data suggests that you probably won’t have enough resources on hand to meet demand during the holiday period, consider investing in a third-party logistics (3PL) provider or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to relieve some of the burdens of managing packaging and shipping internally.

Optimize shipping

Make sure you have a specific holiday shipping process mapped out ahead of time in addition to your overall fulfillment workflow. As with fulfillment, third-party companies can help you manage customer expectations and move products quickly during the busy season. These services vary in price and scope, so do some research to find the best option for your specific business requirements.

Set a minimum order quantity

For wholesale businesses, take advantage of minimum order quantities over the holiday season to maximize order values and cut down on costs by selling in bulk. Take a look at your average number of products per order from the last holiday period to determine the minimum quantity your typical customers are likely to buy in a single transaction during the upcoming season.

Start preparing your business for the holiday season now by signing up for a free 14-day trial of TradeGecko’s order management software.