Preparing for Holiday 2017 Without Implementing New Tech

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Preparing for Holiday 2017 Without Implementing New Tech

By Rick Amari - 10/02/2017

It may only be the start of Fall, but in the retail world that means the holiday season is here; in fact, some specialty and department stores have even started setting holiday displays. Whether you’ve begun rolling out your holiday floorsets or not, it’s time to prepare for the 2017 holiday season.

In an ideal world, you have the latest and greatest technology in place to run your retail operation, but unfortunately that is not the case for most retailers. And alas, now is not the time to implement new technology to deploy during the upcoming holiday season – that ship has sailed and is better left for the start of 2018.

However, there are a few ways retailers can still prepare for the holiday season while making the most of their current solutions and capabilities.

Tweak Existing Systems

While it may be too late for new technology, it’s not too late to fine-tune and maximize the systems you already have in place. Critical questions such as “were there technologies that you had in place last holiday season but could use some adjusting?” and “what new technologies have you implemented since last December that you can use to drive sales during the holiday season?” You’ll want to make sure these solutions are ready to go and performing efficiently and accurately before the holiday rush hits. For example, did you move your website to a new eCommerce platform in the past nine months? If so, run plenty of tests to make sure it can handle in the influx of traffic on Cyber Monday.

Enhance Order Management and Fulfillment

During the holidays, online orders are at an all-time high, and with ever-growing fulfillment options, from BOPIS to one-day delivery, its critical for retailers to focus on order management and fulfillment during this season.

Ideally, retailers have a robust solution in place to help manage all of the possible combinations of ordering and fulfilling your customers may desire. However, for many retailers, this is not the case. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have systems and processes in place to manage and fulfill orders through various channels. With careful attention, and limited fulfillment options, retailers can manually manage orders and fulfillment. It won’t be a simple task but it’s important to give customers the options that they’ve come to expect or risk losing those customers to other competitors. Alternatively, your existing POS or e-commerce solution can offer order management and fulfillment capabilities that can serve as additional aid this season.

Optimize and Adjust Inventory

If you do nothing else this holiday season, continually optimize and adjust inventory based ongoing projections. Whether you have technology in place to do this or a team of analysts working around the clock, inventory management is key to a successful season. By continually optimizing and adjusting inventory across various channels, retailers can avoid costly out-of-stocks and overstocks. With out-of-stocks, retailers risk losing sales to competitors who have those items in stock. On the other hand, overstocks lead to loss of full-price sales, markdowns and decreased profit margins. By closely managing inventory, retailers can rest-assured they are putting their best foot forward during the busiest time of the year.

Start Preparing for Holiday 2018

It may seem premature, but what retailers should really focus on is preparing for the 2018 holiday sales season. This is especially true if there are new technologies and solutions that you’d like to have in place before the next go around. Don’t have an order management system in place or do your stores need new POS solutions? Now is the time to evaluate your options, select a vendor and prepare for implementation. The goal is to get new solutions in place well-ahead of retail’s busiest time of year, so that you have plenty of time to optimize the solutions and train employees on the new systems so that the 2018 holiday season goes off without a hitch.

No matter what you do this season, one thing is for sure, doing nothing will lead to failure. To achieve sales goals and keep your customers satisfied, make the most of the technology, people and processes you have in place and start planning NOW for 2018. 

now is not the time to implement new technology to deploy during the upcoming holiday season – that ship has sailed and is better left for the start of 2018.

However, there are a few ways retailers can still prepare for the holiday season while making the most of their current solutions and capabilities.

-Rick Amari, founder, Columbus Consulting International