The retail sector is affected by seasonality in more ways than one. In addition to the big holiday highs, you have to manage seasonal staff, deal with a fluctuating inventory levels and often unpredictable profit margins that come with peaks and troughs. The good news is, there are some simple ways to protect yourself against seasonality, starting with these four easy tips.
1. Review the past to prepare for the future
Knowing how to predict, stock and supply the ideal number of items throughout the year isn’t easy. And it’s made even harder for retail businesses as they deal with unpredictable seasonality. But understanding statistics from previous months and years could be the solution. By tracking the history of purchase orders throughout the year – and, in particular, known peaks and troughs – you will be able to predict how much of a certain item will sell, and when.
It’s not an exact science, and it may take a few tries to get the formula right, but preparing yourself in this way will avoid customers not getting what they want, or your money getting tied up in unnecessary overstocking.
2. Drive customers online during seasonal troughs
Most retail stores can expect a big sales boom over the holiday season, but predicting financials for the rest of the year isn’t as simple. One way to overcome the stress of unexpected lows is to focus on your complementary e-commerce store. If you don’t have one yet, build it. And if you do, maybe it’s time for a revamp?
Also invest in marketing techniques to drive regular customers to your online store, and approach new audiences via social media, email marketing or online promotions for in-store prizes.
3. Have regular catch-ups with your employees
Running a successful business isn’t all about getting customers through the door. If you don’t have a consistent and competent employees then all your profits from sales are usually poured back into the hiring process.
Keep your team happy by understanding their desires and their pain points. Can you set aside one day each month for employee one-on-ones? If you maintain a happy and healthy workforce, you won’t need to waste hours and dollars hiring and training up new employees. Happy workers are also great brand ambassadors – driving referrals to your store through their own network of family and friends.
4. Use an employee management solution
You may not be able to control every peak and trough throughout the year, but you can control how your business runs on a day-to-day basis. Take advantage of online rostering software and employee task management solutions. These can free you up to focus on what’s most important: running your business despite seasonal unpredictability.
As an owner in the retail services industry, you already understand that seasonal unpredictability can be devastating if not handled well. But with the right business strategy and a collection of useful online workforce tools, you can prepare for the quiet periods and use the free time to concentrate on growing your brand.