Never Run Out of Inventory – Three Holiday Retail Do’s and Don’ts for Distributors

 In Best Practices

Holiday retail can be chaotic for distributors.

Holiday retail is a lot like the holidays themselves. Some folks eagerly anticipate it and have their favorite traditions and rituals, while others dread its arrival. This goes for both the buyer and the distributor.  Maybe, as a distributor, you’ve been chomping at the bit to roll out your specials, eager to watch your wallet expand as customers respond to your dedication and foresight. Or maybe you’re holding your breath, hoping you don’t run out of product, over-allocate on an order, or lose track of yet another shipment.

The holiday shopping season can easily feel like the most chaotic time of the year for a distributor, but it doesn’t have to! With a little knowhow, you can sail through the season with grace, and make a tidy profit along the way.

Here are three key do’s and don’ts for navigating the choppy waters of holiday distribution:

Do prepare by creating reorder points

Nothing will upend your plans for surviving the holiday retail season like a stockout. It’s a surefire way to lose not only the immediate sale, but also the repeat customer.

Plan ahead, and we’re talking way ahead, by diving deep into your inventory and setting some intelligent reorder points. A reorder point is simply an inventory level that you’ve determined should act as the alert that it’s time to place an order with your vendor. Now, we say “simple,” but it’s almost never that…simple, is it? There’s a fine art to landing on the right formula for your business, but it’s worth the effort. When you’re working your hardest to accelerate your order-to-cash cycle, you can’t afford to be held back by shoddy inventory management.

Don’t leave customer satisfaction to chance

As you brace for the onslaught of holiday business, make sure you’ve laid the groundwork for excellent customer experiences. After all, happy customers are your bread and butter — anticipating their needs and wowing them with your devotion to detail are excellent strategies for supercharging growth for your business.

The right CSR software solution will transform your business. We could go on and on about the benefits that come with finding the right CSR solution, but for this post we’re going to focus on the customer database. When you’ve got a clean database coupled with a simple user interface that allows your reps to quickly look up customer information, you can provide exceptional customer service with minimal effort. When reps have to click through multiple windows to access important customer information, such as order history or shipping addresses, that translates into delayed communication, confusion, and potentially unhappy customers. Make sure you’re using a CSR solution that empowers your reps, instead of one that bogs them down.

Do get creative with your shipping strategy

Time is of the essence. This is especially true for distribution professionals during the holiday retail season.

Getting your products out the door and into your customers’ hands is often a lot easier said than done. Of course (you may be sensing a theme here), it all comes down to your software solution. The right tool will enhance your business’ order-to-cash strategy and scale with you. It’ll also offer important flexibility options.

Think outside the box when prepping your shipping strategy as you brace for the holiday pressure. Have you considered drop shipping? Would it improve your operations or add an unnecessary complication? What about third (or fourth) party logistics? These are only a few ideas to get your imagination going as you work to meet and exceed shipping goals.

Don’t forget to enjoy the holidays for yourself

We’ll leave you with one final, bonus piece of advice: don’t forget to have some fun! The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of year, so make some room in your operations for a little sparkle. Whether that’s designing a thoughtful card to include with your shipments, some fun, thematic specials, or a day of community service for you and your employees, make space for a positive holiday experience for you and your coworkers.

If this list of do’s and don’ts feels disappointingly short, we recommend that you take our self-diagnostic to discover other areas where your business can improve. The diagnostic takes about fifteen or twenty minutes. It’s an easy way to assess the overall health of your business, and it’s completely free. Consider it our holiday gift to you.

Are gaps in your inventory strategy costing your organization?

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