To be able to adapt quickly to market demands this year, retailers had to be agile. It’s been a year unlike (almost) any other, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Through all of this uncertainty, there have been positive signs writes Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ Oracle NetSuite.
For example, online shopping has grown 26.9 per cent YOY for the 12 months to 31 July according to Australia Post data. As retailers prepare for a typical EOY sales season, how can they set themselves up for success?
Here are a few areas for consideration to boost your sales
Flexibility is key
The future is difficult to predict. A key defence against uncertainty is flexibility. Flexibility comes from having an accurate up-to-date view of your operational data supported by a set of business tools that help you adapt quickly.
Ask yourself a few questions. What information can I glean from recent purchasing behaviours? Do I have historical data from the same period last year to examine the trends? Are there certain products or services that typically sell out quickly? When are customers more likely to purchase – are there particular weeks or days that transactions tend to spike? These insights could help inform your supply chain and marketing decision making.
Reimagine in-store sales
For parts of Australia where retail stores have been closed for some time, the prospect of re-opening has been exciting. It is set to also coincide with the time of year when many shoppers usually head in-store to snag a deal and stock up for the festive season. However, retailers should be aware of shifting consumer expectations when preparing for in-store shopping.
In response to COVID, Accenture researched five broad types of consumers ranging from ‘The Worrier’ – someone who is highly concerned about their health and less likely to leave home – to ‘The Indifferent’. Of course, there are a range of thoughts and opinions in between these two extremes, but the takeaway is that retailers need to cater to a wider range of preferences.
For example, you may consider adding extra staff to process transactions quicker, thereby reducing the number of time people waiting in queues and being concerned about health risks. ‘Click and Collect’ or even boot delivery may be preferred for those wanting to avoid busy periods or crowds. There’s no doubt that online shopping is likely to remain a key channel, so it’s advisable to ensure that the user experience is smooth and frictionless.
Boost cash flow
A recent report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that earlier this year during the month of February reduced cash flow was the second most common factor significantly impacting businesses. Beyond applying for a business loan, there are some strategies you can try to boost cash flow, including:
- Sell early – if you have, or can get stock, why not start selling early? Many businesses have early season sales or take pre-orders to support cash flow. This also helps business leaders more accurately predict demand
- Review your returns policy – unexpected returns can have a big impact on the bottom line, but you can do something about it in certain cases. For example, some businesses make an exchange a more attractive option to customers than a refund by offering store credit or other incentives.
- Use business management tools to your advantage. Modern cloud-based solutions can automate many repetitive tasks – like invoicing – to free up more time across your team. This can also help you get paid quicker and have fewer surprises down the track.
End of year sales can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for business leaders, especially in a year that has brought many surprises. But by staying flexible, re-thinking the customer experience and boosting cash flow, retailers can feel confident about making the most of EOY sales.
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