Today's the Day: A Retailer's Guide to Holiday Preparedness

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iQmetrix’s resident specialty retail marketing expert, Sive O’Neill, recently posted a blog discussing marketing ideas for the upcoming holiday season. She made it clear that retailers should always be thinking about the seasonal rush of Black Friday and Christmas and planning ahead is the key to a profitable holiday season.

Preparing for the holidays means preparing for Black Friday; a day where your operations need to be in peak performance. To help get you ready for the big day, this blog will look at the preparations retailers are making to retail operations, retail technology, inventory management, and customer experience—all to maximize profits and give you peace of mind when thinking about the coming months.

Define your Goals

Prior to the chaos of Black Friday, it is of the utmost importance to create a focus for your associates. Set goals and create incentives to reach those goals; how much do you want to improve sales revenues over the holiday season? How are you going to achieve these goals? Does your retail tech stack have the features needed to contribute to a growth in sales? Set up a trustworthy tracking system so progress can be continually monitored and provide that extra push if needed.

Evaluate Your Tech Stack

Effective holiday preparation requires taking a hard look at your retail technology from your inventory management practices to how you’re managing employees to your CRM and sales tools. Are all of your systems functioning in a cohesive way? Do they all work together and are viewable in the same environment?

If you’re beginning to prepare for the upcoming holiday season, you may be cringing at the problems you had last year with an outdated, legacy POS system. Legacy POS systems create obstacles to providing a seamless shopping experience. Examples of shortcomings include inventory information that is not synched with e-commerce, ERP, and finance systems. This disconnect then leads to pricing and product information becoming outdated and requires staff to revise the information in multiple locations without being sure which version is accurate.

Attend Meetup

The iQmetrix Meetup is the event to be at if you’re a specialty retailer in wireless, jewelry, repair, and beyond. It is chock-full of educational sessions that are categorized into one of three themes;  customer experience, employee experience, and operational excellence. Meetup attendees are welcome to attend all sessions or a selection of sessions following a “track” of one theme. This flexibility allows you to create the most value-packed time at this industry-focused event.

Some of our exciting topics include how to see success in the age of Amazon, why experiential retail matters, and Master Class sessions in inventory management and reporting. These, and the other topics, will provide insights on how you can prepare for the holiday season. You also can’t miss our keynote speakers—Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank, and Molly Bloom, author of Molly’s Game. What better opportunity to prepare for the holidays than to learn from the experts?

Meetup is September 3rd – 5th in Denver, Colorado, at the brand-new Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Before you begin making important holiday procurement decisions, look at your current inventory and separate the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“Good” products are those providing a return on investment.

“Bad” products are those not providing a good return on investment but are required to help make other products sell.

“Ugly” products do not provide a return on investment and are not helping other products sell. In other words, they are taking up space in your stores that could be used to sell good inventory. Get rid of them! Detailed reporting on stale inventory will help identify “ugly” items and the priority should be to get these items out the door, even if it means getting nothing for them. Consider donating them to charity or recycling them and don’t look back.

Ensure Consistency in Inventory Practices

Once you are sure of the products you want to sell and have a way for shuffling inventory between stores, it's important to make sure inventory flows smoothly from the time of purchase to the time the products are in the hands of your customers. Ideally, you will have policies used consistently over time so reports can be used to identify any outliers to the norm.

Solid inventory procedures include careful and regular auditing of purchase orders, transfers, and inventory counts. Purchase orders and transfers should be audited daily to ensure products are not being lost in transit, ordered/received in error, or handled with negligence. Inventory counts should be done at least daily for big-ticket items. Non-sellable inventory should be counted at least weekly to ensure it does not become a blindspot for products to disappear. Your POS system should have built-in functions to assist with these auditing processes.

Getting Integrated for the Holidays

In preparation for the holidays, retailers are improving experiences at the checkout counter by integrating their payments process into their point-of-sale system. 90% of iQmetrix clients have integrated their payments with RQ, taking their transactions to a whole new level of automation, transparent reporting, and faster refund abilities—all features which retailers benefit from during the peak season. Setting up integrated payments is easy with RQ as all payment settings, like payment devices, processors, and verification methods, are all managed from one central spot.

Some of the no-brainer benefits for the holiday season include faster checkouts, getting customers in and out the door faster than before, complete card acceptance, faster refund reconciliation, deterrence of refund frauds, and detailed transaction reporting. When it comes to being prepared for the holidays, integrating payments will give you a leg up on the competition.

Launch Sales Assist and Fulfillment Solutions

Black Friday is about offering discounts on the products your customers are looking for. However, with drastically discounted prices, you may run out of stock before you know it. Enter the iQmetrix solution, Dropship. Also known as a fulfillment solution, Dropship allows you to send items from a vendor or fulfillment location directly to your customer’s doorstep, allowing you to “save the sale” by offering products you don’t have in stock. Paired with Endless Aisle, which is a virtual catalog of available items beyond what’s in-stock, creates the building blocks on an omnichannel shopping experience. The last thing you want on Black Friday is to turn away a potential paying customer due to out of stock items.

For every core product you offer, consider offering compatible products to boost your revenue in-store like selling a phone case with a new cell phone sale. For selling compatible products, sales assistance tools— like Endless Aisle and Dropship—allows your salespeople to upsell on compatible products and minimize the friction on the delivery service. Prior to Black Friday, launch Dropship paired with Endless Aisle to ensure you can offer exactly what your customer wants when they want it, and see your sales skyrocket with ease. 

You’re Ready for the Holidays!

It’s time to take in the energy from the influx of satisfied customers. Afterward, treat yourself to a well-earned break spent with friends and family.

New Year, New You: Holiday Clean Up

After the holiday rush has come and gone, you're likely in need of a good sweep. With the downtime between the holidays and the New Year, why not make the most of the 3 R's: reporting, reconciliation, and rebalance. These three functionalities help keep track of the holiday finances, stock shelves with the customer favorites, set up clearance, and use best practices to crunch the numbers. You'll be all primped and primed to look your best for 2020.

What’s Next?

The key to a smooth and successful holiday season is preparation, and it starts with a strong POS. While switching POS systems can seem like a daunting process, it doesn't have to be! Leave the planning to our team at iQmetrix, so you can concentrate on running your business. Check out our step-by-step path to the holiday season because it’s never too early to get prepared.

Start Your Path Now