As the air fills with the aroma of gingerbread and the streets sparkle with lights of joy, it's clear the holiday season is almost here. But while the season brings its magic, it also brings a lot of stress with it. Shoppers eagerly search for their desired items and retailers go way and beyond to ensure they will have it in stock. In this blog post, we review the challenges the holiday season poses on retail inventory management and explain how technology can help create a stockout-free peak season.

Even though it seems the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year it’s still a short limited period. But this period alone on average accounts for 27% of the retailer's annual sales, that’s why you have to act fast and be extremely precise with your inventory strategy.

Inventory challenges during the holiday season

Out of stock

The holiday season is a stressful time for both retailers and shoppers and everything is emotional and time-sensitive, making the competition higher than ever; You don’t get second chances - if you go out of stock you lose the customer. Hence out of stocks are the first thing you would like to avoid during the holiday peak season.

Inaccurate demand forecast

Each location within the same company can have different types of clients with different types of intents, for that reason just splitting your inventory between locations and maybe considering the store size is not enough. At sensitive times, such as the holiday season, it’s crucial to have an accurate demand forecast based on previous years' sales records, popular items in each location, etc.

In addition, as the days pass you may notice that some stores sell certain items more than others, so it's important to have a plan of moving inventory quickly between locations to improve performance.

Poor online availability

43% of UK internet users plan to shop mainly online during the holiday season, and an even higher number research products online before buying. For that reason, you really shouldn’t neglect your online presence and availability during this time. To ensure you get the most out of the holiday peak season, you should ensure full availability and a smooth omnichannel experience for maximum shopping convenience.

So how can you do all of that during the busiest time of the year, when all your employees are working hard on selling and serving customers?

How can technology help with inventory management during the holidays?

The retail industry has long been familiar with asset-tracking technologies like RFID, BLE, NFC, QR codes, and more. But, we are continually discovering new benefits and advantages associated with their use. When paired with powerful software providing comprehensive visibility across the entire supply chain, retailers gain the capability to elevate their inventory management from start to finish.

First, RFID software allows you to track your full inventory across all locations, reducing theft, loss, and process failures causing inaccurate data collection. Once you fixed your data, you gain the capability to track your full stock per location or combined. As a result, you have a clear picture with actionable insights for each location and each item. This will allow you to make insightful commercial decisions when preparing for the peak trading season.

Second, with tracking technology such as RFID, inventory counts have become easy and quick, allowing the store teams to prepare more efficiently keeping track of their stock during the peak seasons.

Third, now that you can trust your stock file, you can ensure online availability, and get a smooth omnichannel for the best shopping convenience. For example, if previously you couldn’t upload items to your site from the fear you eventually won’t have them when someone makes the purchase, now, with RFID even if you have one left in stock you can be sure it’s available to be sold.

Moreover, with real-time visibility over all locations, inventory can be moved and shipped more effectively. For example, if you run out of stock from an item, but the store nearby has a lot of it, instead of waiting for the distribution center to send more of it, allow the store nearby to ship it to you. Same with online purchases, allow the stores to work as small distribution centers so purchases can be fulfilled quickly and efficiently. This operation will improve inventory management and help stores work together to increase sales and satisfy customers.

As the holiday season approaches, the excitement in the air is undeniable, but so is the anxiety for retailers to meet demand. In this blog post, we explore the challenges of peak inventory management, including out of stocks, inaccurate demand forecasting, and the need for a strong online presence. The solution lies in technology, particularly asset-tracking technologies like RFID, BLE, NFC, and QR codes, combined with powerful software for comprehensive supply chain visibility. This tech-driven approach allows retailers to gain control over their inventory, reduce theft, and make informed decisions. With quick and accurate inventory counts, seamless omnichannel integration, and efficient distribution, technology can make the holiday season a success for retailers.