Now that you've prepared your marketing campaign for the Christmas rush, it makes sense to review your plan, check your lists, and tweak what needs tweaking. And critically, don’t forget about logistics!
There's no point making that big Christmas sale, if you can't get the product to the buyer by Saturday December 24! And the reality for many retailers – particularly e-tailers – is that the growing reliance on online sales means that the Christmas rush is becoming even more compressed into the tail end of December.
Assuming you have your Christmas marketing and promotions in hand, you need to ask yourself:
How much stock do I need on hand?
Whilst the negative cash-flow implications of holding large inventories of stock can be a burden, you don't want to find yourself caught short if you get a sudden influx of orders.
This can be a delicate balancing act. Talk to your suppliers and find out what they have available – and when – in the event you need to "top up" supplies, and consider committing to staggered deliveries to your depot (and hence staggering payment), rather than ordering all the product for delivery at once. You can also talk to specialist trade finance providers like Scottish Pacific about their range of products that can assist with managing your cashflows.
The complicating factor here is that – with an increasing reliance on online shopping – many people these days don’t even start their Christmas shopping until mid-December – so you may not have a great idea of order flows!
How long does it take you to pick, pack and ship?
Importantly, be conservative when estimating lead times for delivery to your depot. You need to give yourself wriggle room to take delivery, pick, pack and get the orders to your customers on time – and this will determine the last date you can make sales for arrival pre-Christmas. It is no good selling to someone who expects pre-Christmas delivery if you cannot get the product delivered on time.
CargoHound can be a great tool to source "just in time" freight delivery quotes for imports – allowing you to place your inquiry with 30 freight forwarders at the click of a mouse. And importantly, you can specify last shipment dates and required receival periods.
Each of our forwarders has their own specialties – so whether it is express parcel freight from Denpasar to Melbourne, or larger air shipments, we've got someone to cover your requirements.
What are the peak number of orders that you can handle each day, and still get the deliveries out?
Regardless of your suppliers' and freight providers' capability to get product to you, you need to understand your own capacity to process and pack orders for delivery to your customers. You may need to consider temporary increases in casual staff numbers for the next few weeks.
And remember, after Christmas is a great time for "specials" – and people on holidays will be keen to shop around for bargains. Everything doesn't stop on December 25, and you need to be ready for your Boxing Day and New Year's sales plan to give yourself the best possible chance to sell any surplus or returned stock.