How to Deal with Seasonal Inventory Challenges

If you’re a retailer, staying on top of your inventory can be a challenge. Luckily, we have the experts over at Stitch Labs — an online inventory management solution that you can connect to your Square account — on tap for some advice. Read on for their top tips on a topic that’s pretty relevant as we transition into Fall — managing your seasonal inventory.

Track historical data and plan ahead.

What’s the best way to figure out when to phase seasonal inventory in and out? Your past sales. Pay close attention to your sales volume by month and look at which events or holidays corresponded with any major peaks and dips. Analytics tools (which, if you’re a Square seller, are available in your Dashboard) and inventory control systems (you can connect Stitch Labs to your Square account in the Square App Marketplace) give you details across all your channels, all year long. This gives you a quick snapshot of historical trends, which will help you make better inventory decisions.

Automate the purchase order process.

If you always find yourself running out of inventory faster than you anticipated (again, hooray for more sales!), try implementing a system that allows you to automatically create a purchase order when stock runs low. It’s easy to lose track of when you’re running out of inventory, so be sure your inventory management solution gives you low stock alerts, allowing you to order quickly from suppliers.

And if you aren’t creating your own product, you may want to leverage a drop shipper for seasonal items. Drop shipping is the process of using a third-party supplier to carry your inventory and fulfill orders. The customer makes the purchase directly from your shop, but the order is processed through the drop shipper. This frees up space in your warehouse and gives you a better idea of what customers want without taking on the operational process yourself.

Test inventory quantities through different channels.

People shop differently in different places. Those who head to your online store, for example, may just want to browse, while people who find your items in other online marketplaces may have been looking for something specific. To better understand what moves inventory and where, experiment with your marketing efforts (like paid or organic social media efforts) across all your online sales channels. Analyzing what types of things usually move the needle will give you a more solid sense of your seasonal inventory ebbs and flows.

Back to social media. A great way to anticipate surges in seasonal inventory is to check out what’s trending in search engines and on social media. Look at what other businesses are doing to promote similar products on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Then think about how you can tailor your own efforts to stand apart from the pack and sell more of a certain item.

Get creative with product positioning.

Say the new season has officially started, but you still have piles of last season’s inventory in stock. Before you hang your head in defeat, explore more creative marketing strategies to get last season’s goods off your shelves. You often see this in the fashion industry as “transitional” apparel. Fashion-focused companies will pair two different seasonal items together to get their shoppers through that awkward midseason. This is also a great opportunity to showcase some creativity to current customers, making them love you even more.

Offer discounts to shed inventory.

No matter what time of year it is, shoppers always love a good deal. If you’re concerned about getting stuck with excess inventory, consider throwing a Black Friday–size sale on a day of your choosing. This has the added benefit of having your sale stand out, as opposed to being lost in a sea of sales on the big holidays. If you’re new to discounts, here are a few to test:

  • Offer discounts to current customers who successfully refer a friend to purchase an item.
  • Engage the social community by incentivizing your followers to post a photo of your product with a hashtag of your choice.
  • Offer discounts only to new customers on the first item they purchase, but keep everything else full price.

There is no one way to offer discounts, and often times, creativity is what makes these efforts most successful. Test what works with your audience and learn from them.

We hope these tips help keep your inventory moving quickly — and your sales growing just as fast. Integrate Square with Stitch Labs so you can easily manage inventory quantities, simplify your operations, and grow your business. Learn more about how to use Square and Stitch together.

Author Bio:

Breena Fain is the content and communications manager at Stitch Labs, the leading inventory control solution for multichannel retailers. Stitch automatically syncs inventory, orders, and sales across channels, which provides retailers a holistic understanding of their operations. With Stitch, retailers save time, make better decisions, and grow their businesses. To learn more, visit www.stitchlabs.com.

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