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Having the "must haves" this holiday season

Three ways to help ensure your inventory is on time, every time

The holiday season is the most important time of year for many retailers. Taking the following steps now can help keep you in business long after the peak shopping season.

1.  Perfect your plan

Every savvy shopper has a plan for buying the perfect gifts. Do you have a plan for making sure those must-have gifts are available on your shelves throughout the shopping season? Now is the time to know which products will be in big demand and plan your holiday sales strategy so those key items are available. Your plan should include:

  • Identifying which products make up the largest portion of your sales
  • Making arrangements with suppliers to have those products available before and during the start of the holiday shopping season
  • Knowing your options or limitations for securing this year’s hot seller(s). Some items may only have a limited quantity available per store and knowing that up front may prevent you from putting all of your holiday sales goals on those items.

2.  Know your suppliers

Do you know where your inventory comes from? If you have not done so in the past, take some time now to know your suppliers. Their reliability is more important than ever and they need to come through to make sure you have what your customers need. By having the right products available at the time, your customers will likely come back year after year. Ask your suppliers these questions:

  • Can we make special arrangements now to fulfill my holiday inventory needs should my supplies run low quicker than expected?
  • Do you have other ways to get the product I need in case there is a problem securing it during the holiday shopping season?

3.  Build backups

Having a backup for when something goes wrong can help keep your holiday customers happy. Identifying your backup strategy to fill any gaps in your processes is vital in making sure you have what you need on your shelves at this critical time for your business. At minimum, your backup plan should include:

  • Secondary Suppliers – Know where to go next if your supplier is out of your top selling product.
  • Special Delivery – Determine if it is possible to make special fulfillment arrangements so that you can get products to customers before key dates.
  • Give Customer Options – If it is impossible to obtain a certain item that customers are seeking, consider offering a discount on the product for when it will be available, offer a rain check so customers are guaranteed to get the product, or have access to inventory counts from other locations.
  • Build a Supply Chain Management Plan – Develop and document a plan for your most important inventory and services in case you ever experience an interruption.  The Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety Supply Chain guide takes you step-by-step through items to consider when developing your back-up plan.   
  • Talk to Your Insurance Agent – Contingent Business Interruption Insurance can help to protect earnings should a key supplier or customer suffer damage leaving them unable to deliver your inventory. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have this important coverage and appropriate limits.

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