Inventory management is about balance. You don’t want to be caught short if people are buying your goods and services, but you don't want to hold so much stock that it affects your cash flow.
This challenge is brought into sharp focus for many businesses during the holidays: Ten percent of those surveyed in our poll said inventory management is their biggest holiday challenge.
Holiday inventory management and control:
Be flexible. To capitalize on hot holiday sellers, keep some cash available for last-minute orders. If you’ll be using your business credit card, take advantage of the card’s grace period. You may have up to 26 days after receiving your credit card statement to make the payment.
Be visible. Get your holiday stock in store and on display as soon as you can. If an item isn’t selling, mark it down.
Be ready to move it. Prepare for boxing-day sales with slower moving items.
Be secure. Be on extra alert for shoplifting and ""tag"" expensive inventory that is portable.
New Year’s Resolutions for Better Inventory Control:
Be disciplined. Conduct regular inventory reviews to help you assess trends and manage the risk of holding too little or too much stock. If your business is more complex, consider investing in stock control software. Point-of-sale technology can help you determine what’s selling and what’s not. Use this information when you plan for your next busy season.
Know your needs. Take a look at each step of the inventory chain (raw goods, goods in progress, finished goods) based on past turnover, sales patterns, and seasonality to determine an optimum amount to keep on hand. Take into account minimum stock levels and re-order lead times. Test out different suppliers so you won’t be caught short.
Clear the clutter. Ensure that stock is stored properly, taking into account all possible factors that may damage it. That includes light, humidity, and improper hygiene. For perishables, consider using a ""first in, first out"" policy.
Know your customers. What’s capturing the imagination of your customers this holiday season? You can never know for certain what’s going to be hot six months down the road. But you can put the odds of success in your favour by being diligent about customer research all year long.
Stay on top of popular culture, read magazines, go to trade shows, and, most importantly, ask your customers, either when they are in front of you or by email/mail.
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