Most businesses put all their effort into getting their products sold during Black Friday – and some forget the aftermath of localizing, packaging, and sending the orders to the customers.
It’s a shame because effective inventory management and order automatization can ensure a higher profit during sales campaigns. As a bonus, your customers get such a good experience that they come back – both during sales and after.
Automated inventory management is the new black.
Imagine this scenario:
Your team has prepared for Black Friday for months; the best offers have been selected, the newsletters are ready for send-out and the website is optimized to handle increased traffic.
The big day arrives and the customers are queueing all around the block. But your great deals – designed to drive traffic and increase turnover – are ironically the ones leaving you frustrated after the products are sold. It becomes obvious that your inventory management can’t keep up with the demand.
Many of your customers end up walking away empty-handed or waiting a long time before receiving their product. Not ideal.
But fear not, it doesn’t have to come to this. Automated inventory management is the answer to your prayers as it minimizes the risk of a blackout during Black Friday and other sales campaigns.
Changes in order volume are challenging to handle manually
Large changes in the number of orders can complicate effective order management processes. Now that the dust has settled, you may have noticed that you’ve been facing one or more of the following challenges during and after Black Friday:
Staff and manual processes
During busy sales campaigns, many businesses hire extra hands to localize and pack orders. At the same time, every warehouse has many manual crucial processes that are time-consuming and monotonous.
These manual processes combined with new and constantly changing employees are a high-risk combination for errors. Errors increase the risk of having to disappoint your customers or getting a lower margin on your orders.
The next potential challenge could actually be your most popular items – isn’t it ironic? Baby alarms, basketballs, or blankets – whatever your bestseller items are, you risk overselling. If your deals on the items are great, you might sell a lot more than you had anticipated and you might not be able to get the products home afterwards. We all know that the bestsellers help attract customers during sales, but in a worst-case scenario, you might have to remove the bestsellers from your webshop during the sale – or let the customers down afterwards.
Localizing the goods
It can be a challenge to simply locate the goods after they’ve been sold – especially for businesses with several store locations and warehouses. This can lead to a lot of time wasted on administrative tasks, where the products are sent from store to client, store to store, or to the warehouse. This is time that could have been spent on improving the webshop, the warehouse, or customer service.
Automated order and inventory management
If you want to make sure your warehouse doesn’t end up buried in products, you have to get ahead of two common problems: bottlenecks and errors. They can occur in all stages of warehouse management and order processing and obviously vary from business to business. So we have prepared a few suggestions as to how you can increase capacity and scale during sales campaigns – while preventing major errors.
Automated order management
Automating order management can be a great idea, but it’s crucial to only let the systems automate the right processes and let real people take care of the rest.
A rule of thumb is to let the system support the type of processes with the least diversions. An example of a relatively standardized process is to let the system suggest exactly from which location a product should be picked. And if that pick isn’t possible, a buying proposal will be sent to the purchasing manager automatically.
The close integration of warehouse, stores, and webshop
If your main warehouse, supplier warehouse, and other warehouses are all integrated with the webshop in real-time, you’ll never risk overselling popular products as you’ll always have access to an updated overview of stock across all locations.
Furthermore, the available stock shouldn’t just be exposed on the webshop, but also support the picking processes in the warehouse. E.g. a store is automatically alerted when a product needs to be picked from the store’s stock for a web order. When the store approves the pick, the product instantly disappears from the available stock overview.
Intelligent purchasing suggestions
The large fluctuations in order volume and changing purchasing patterns often make it difficult for retail businesses to ensure they have the demanded products in stock during sales such as Black Friday.
It’s crucial to change focus from forecasting to fast execution of orders. An example could be an integration of the business’s most used purchasing portals. Another example is intelligent purchasing lists which help the purchasing department buy products in bulk instead of individually.
To sum up, Black Friday and other sales campaigns are no longer only about high conversion, SEO work, and effective marketing. It’s just as important to ensure effective management of the sales processes during a sale. There’s a large number of smaller processes that – might – be worth optimizing.
But no businesses are alike, so in the preliminary stages, it’s extremely important to map out which processes to automate – and which ones to keep manual. You have to make an effort – and most likely spend a lot of time – so if you start now, you’re ready for next year’s Black Friday.
Four tips on how to choose the right WMS: What to consider when choosing a new inventory management system
If your business is experiencing any of the problems above or you want to hear more about how to optimize your order management, purchasing processes etc – we’re more than happy to help. If words like ‘automated order management’ and ‘optimised picking process’ still sound like gibberish – don’t hesitate to reach out.
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