As the holiday season 2023 approaches fast, retailers face a combination of factors that look set to make it a challenging one. Retail is still in the post-pandemic shake-down, with some shoppers loving the return to stores, but others now entrenched with ecommerce as their ‘normal’; inflation is still impacting shoppers’ discretionary spend and the cost of living crisis is making many think twice about purchases they would have made without a care a few short years ago.
It’s part of an overall trend to complete holiday season purchases over a shorter period of time – the planned shopping ‘window’ for 2023 is 5.8 weeks, down from a pre-pandemic shopping season of 7.4 weeks. ****
Returns have always been high in the days and weeks after gift-giving and are still on the rise in line with increased ecommerce, and the forecast for 2023 is for a further uplift *****
All of these factors means that for retailers wanting to drive business growth over the busiest time of the year, and continue to grow their profits, sound inventory management has never been more important. +
We can see the importance of inventory management during the three key stages of the holiday season:
The role of POS systems with inventory management
The most effective way to ensure efficient management of inventory is through retail technology – a POS system with inventory management software. In order to deliver maximum benefit, an inventory management system should ideally:
- Be part of an integrated retail POS and inventory management platform – so that information flows seamlessly between the point of sale, inventory tracking and analysis/reporting functions.
- Be easy to use, for instore and back office staff.
- Run on a handheld device – so that staff can readily and rapidly update inventory, check inventory, pick items in the warehouse, all with barcode scanning for fast and accurate inventory tracking.
- Provide a single view of inventory – a single stock pool across all brick and mortar stores, warehouses and distribution centres enables full visibility of stock, and efficient movement of items between locations.
- Automated inventory control – such as stock reordering when levels drop below a trigger point.
- Provide accurate meaningful data for analysis and reporting.
Retail technology that offers strong inventory management can give retailers:
All of which add up to the best Christmas gift retailers could receive – business growth.
What is the role of hand-held devices in inventory management?
Hand-held devices, with built-in barcode scanning capability, can be used to streamline and speed up inventory management throughout your retail operation. Warehouse staff can use hand-helds to check incoming goods against orders, to put goods away in the warehouse and to pick them for sending out to stores or to fulfil customer online orders. In the store, they can be used to look up stock levels when helping customers in the aisles, or to rapidly carry out stock counts for accurate record keeping.
What are the benefits of having inventory management integrated with POS?
The point of sale captures sales information, which is essential to the accurate and timely updating of stock information. Having the two functions deeply integrated as part of the same retail technology platform, along with other functions such as reporting, and back end finance, means information can be seamlessly and efficiently passed between functions for streamlined, accurate recording.