The mad rush of Black Friday has come and gone, the hectic early December period has passed and now businesses across the country are going for that big final push over the next week in the build up to Christmas Day. Many retailers will be doing the majority of their annual business in the next 7 days, with all the last-minute gift shoppers and high-street bargain hunters arriving to retail outlets, websites and marketplaces in their masses to secure presents for their friends and families.
For many businesses the festive season will have already proved to be somewhat prosperous, with early predictions from the Centre for Retail Research suggesting that Christmas shopping in the UK will finish on a record £77.5 Billion in 2016. However with so much profitability riding on the next week alone for many businesses, it is absolutely crucial that retailers are able to capitalise on the sales opportunities that will be presented and finish their year off successfully. Therefore in our final feature article of the year, we thought we’d take a look at the four key things businesses need to do to ensure their sales this Christmas week exceed expectations.
1. Get Your Price Management Right
Christmas sales are often driven by limited offers and special multisaver discounts that businesses use to promote buying behaviour in their customers and leverage greater profitability over the festive period by selling in higher volumes. However in addition to this, businesses will often use multiple price lists to ensure they are staying competitive in each market in which they are trading, arranging prices to reflect consumer expectations and generate significant profit.
For a lot of companies who are indeed managing different price lists, regularly updating product prices at this time of year can be an especially difficult task. This is because as well as just keeping on top of updating the numerous different price lists and product offers, some businesses may also require the ability to monitor product pricing to ensure that they can remain competitive.
Therefore to make this task easier, businesses should look to price management tools that will allow them to effectively manage their Christmas offers and customer discounts. Those selling online through the likes of eBay and Amazon may also want to look at repricing facilities that will allow them to automatically update their prices to be cheaper than their competitors while also keeping tight control over desired margins. By using such tools to ensure price management is kept both accurate and streamlined, companies can benefit from having staff focussed this week on simply maximising the sales opportunities with which they are presented.
2. Deliver On Customer Promises
On-time delivery has always held the key to a successful Christmas for businesses, with success or failure to meet customer expectations regarding fulfilment massively affecting customer satisfaction and in turn the number of returns that are generated over the period. Therefore to minimise the number of costly returns that are processed and to keep customers happy, businesses need to ensure that they have the right processes in place this week to cope with the higher order volumes. This can be achieved by making sure staff use the most efficient walk routes to collect stock, are working productively by picking multiple orders at once and their work load is monitored so it can be carefully balanced throughout the day.
However businesses also need to be aware of last posting dates this week, ensuring orders are despatched with plenty of time to arrive so that they arrive at their destination for Christmas. These last posting dates arrive as early as the 20th December for 2nd Class delivery, so companies should ensure orders are correctly prioritised so that these last posting dates aren’t missed and customers left disappointed. One way this can be achieved is through eliminating the need to rekey information into third party courier systems and having delivery details sent automatically across instead. By streamlining the despatch process through more efficient picking and faster shipping, businesses can speed up fulfilment by guaranteeing that the majority of orders are fulfilled quickly, accurately, on-time and in full.
- 3. Keep On Top Of Those Returns
However despite their best efforts to meet fulfilment dates, businesses processing at least some returns at this time of year is unavoidable. The key for companies when it comes to processing any exchanges or refunds this week is to, where possible, get stock quickly back on sale. This will maximise the possibility of it being sold again in the last-minute gift rush, lowering the chance of it having to be sold at a smaller margin in the post-Christmas reductions.
That said, the large bulk of these returns may not necessarily come to the forefront during this final sales push towards Christmas Day, with most returns over the festive period traditionally coming after the 25th December. How these subsequent returns are handled on the other side of Christmas can have a real impact on a company’s bottom line for the whole seasonal period, which makes effective handling absolutely crucial. Therefore businesses, particularly those trading in the fashion and electrical goods arenas, have structured methods in place for handling their returns processes. To minimise the costs generated from these, credits for faulty stock need to be efficiently issued and volumes generally kept to a minimum through effective order management.
4. Prepare For The After Sales
However although this final week building up to Christmas is vital, businesses also need to be looking ahead to the start of the traditional Boxing Day and January sales. These sales are a great opportunity for businesses to clear their surplus stock left over from Christmas and also drive product interest after the busy gift-giving season. For many businesses the best way to capitalise on this will be through online clearance deals or in-store discount sales.
With these discounts and offers meaning that businesses will accept a lower margin so that they can clear their stockroom ahead of the new season, it is vital that companies have tools in place to effectively manage these deals so that costs can be kept reduced. Through using comprehensive order management tools to automate the running of product offers and streamline the importing of online sales for fast, accurate fulfilment, businesses can ensure that these deals bring in the profitability they need.
So in conclusion, it is clear that performance over the next ten days may well make or break the financial year for businesses across the country when it comes to hitting their desired bottom line. However by having the right structure in place to manage product pricing, deliver orders on time, minimise returns and boost post-Christmas sales, businesses can benefit from a highly successful end to their 2016.
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