Holiday Purchasing and Procurement in Retail

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Another year has flown by and we find ourselves amidst the all-important Holiday season. It may seem like you’ve been talking about Q4 since Q1, but retailers know it’s crunch time and what happens over the next three months can set the tone for 2024 and beyond.

“The “Golden quarter” contains the months between October and December, otherwise known as “The Holiday Season”. They include consumer-spending holidays and celebrations such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.”

Coming off a lighter than expected spring, retailers across the country are setting their sights high and their goals higher on a lucrative – and, ideally, smooth – Q4.

Now is the time to pull out all the stops and prepare to keep your brand competitive among the noise that comes along with these next few months.

A well-planned strategy including promotional considerations and inventory forecasting is essential and will be the guiding light for your team leading into the New Year.

“It’s no secret that planning is essential to effectively achieve goals and objectives. According to Harvard Business School, “This process is used to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align shareholders and employees on the organization’s goals, and ensure those goals are backed by data and sound reasoning.”

Promotion Planning

The major driving force behind sales during this period involves the almost year-long (or more) execution of promotional campaigns and events; all culminating in an end-of-year push for record sales.

Of course, these programs aren’t brand new come October/November; promotion planning requires long-term vision and a step-by-step execution plan that all retail-focused teams have contributed to and agreed upon far in advance of the busy season.

Being meticulous in this process is essential since it “…helps align promotional objectives with the overall marketing strategy of the organization. It ensures that promotional activities are consistent with the company’s mission, values, and goals.”

The beginning of this process should have included establishing “…key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of each promotion, allowing retailers to track the effectiveness of their efforts and make necessary adjustments to optimize their results.”

Having access to those metrics throughout the year will make the final promotional stretch operate smoothly as you have past successes and failures to build off of in the competitive Holiday market. Not to mention, KPIs give you something to look back on after the new year to determine what worked – and perhaps more importantly, what didn’t – as you start the process all over again in January.

Putting your promotional plan to work across your specific market is step one. Even the most creative and flawlessly executed promotions can only work if your organization has done an equally good job of anticipating how and where these targeted promotions will drive sales and secured the necessary inventory to keep up.

Inventory Prep

It seems obvious but cannot be overstated – having proper inventory on-hand in advance of the Holiday rush is imperative to finishing out the year strong.

“Businesses with strong holiday inventory management will have an advantage over their competition. Those who don’t may cause their happy customers to become frustrated and consider shopping elsewhere”.

All the promotional planning and forecasting means little if you can’t keep up with the demand for your product. And just like above – inventory for the next three months should have been worked out long before the calendar flipped to October.

“For many eCommerce businesses, Holiday sales go into effect before the month of December and continue through the New Year. This means you’ll need to have a solid holiday inventory plan in place to get through the Holiday season and avoid overselling or underselling.”

It’s a thin line between having the perfect amount of product to get you through the year and landing on the wrong side of the inventory equation – whether that’s running low or holding on to an unexpected surplus into 2024. Data-backed forecasting and a keen understanding of your target audience are essential and having the right talent in place are the keys to your success.

A productive relationship between manufacturing and retail initiatives is imperative, ‘“During the holiday season, inventory visibility ensures all channels accurately show the items available for purchase. It also helps make demand planning efforts more accurate so that stock levels can reflect the current demand.”

We hope you’re still actively hiring to fill needed positions and not waiting until 2024 which will most likely equal a slow start for you as your competitors speed past you. We have some tips here on how to make Holiday hiring happen now.

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