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E-commerce

The 3 reports you need to prepare for Xmas

By Stephen Canning

With the busy festive period looming, now is the time for online retailers to be analysing their reports to make the most of this key sales time.

Good preparation starts with having reliable information about your inventory and ordering to ensure you have the right stock on hand, at the right level, and at the right price.

You’ll also want to ensure you’re basing your decisions on the most up-to-date, accurate information in the lead up to the festive period and throughout the busy sales period. This is critical to making agile, timely decisions which will impact your sales performance.

To get the best results this Christmas, these are the three areas you should be analysing before, during and after the Christmas rush to get the best results.

1. Stock movement trends

Analysing how your stock is moving can provide powerful insights as you start making decisions for the busy trading time ahead. It can provide detail on which stock to be carrying more of and which may need a stronger push to get out the door. And identifying your slow-moving stock now can help you be prepared for the post-Christmas sales.

By having an accurate view of your stock, you’ll be able to make informed decisions on discounts or targeted promotions to run during this time. Slow moving stock can be costly and take a toll on your cash flow. When your money is tied up in stock that’s sitting on those shelves, you can be impacted by the depreciating values of those items and the lack of valuable warehouse or storage space, which could be filled with fast moving stock instead.

2. Order fulfilment times

Another critical area to look at before the Christmas rush is your order fulfilment processes. With a large amount of stock needing to be moved or delivered in a short period of time, now is a good time to work out where you can improve your efficiency.

For example, are your suppliers taking a week to deliver stock that flies out the door the next day due to popularity? Are they delivering on time and as promised, with complete shipments and without missing items or components?

Having a concise, real-time view of your inventory performance will give you the information you need to work with suppliers on increasing the accuracy and timeliness of your orders.

You’ll also be able to match your supply with demand to order the right amounts of stock at the right times. This can provide big benefits in lessening the storage time products spend in your warehouse and increase your stock turnover.

3. Website traffic and buyer trends

Now is the time to be making improvements to your web presence. Consider what other websites are feeding online traffic to your site. Which pages could be updated or refined? What kind of experience will your customers have on your site this Christmas? Is it consistent with the in-store experience and your overall brand?

Another valuable piece of information you need is who’s ordering what. Are some of your products popular in some geographic areas, but not in others? And if so, have you thought about targeting your marketing efforts based on region or other factors?

Once you get to know who’s buying which products, you can also think about consolidating your supplier freight costs. If you have a good idea of how many of your products will be bought by customers at each different time of year, you can order larger shipments of stock, less frequently.

A large part of preparing for the busy festive period is understanding the key areas of your business that will impact sales. Having the right reports that are accurate, reliable and delivered to you when you need them can make the different between having a not-so-exciting sales result or a very, Merry Christmas.

Stephen Canning is the CEO of JCurve Solutions.

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