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During the dizzying heights of peak season, retail operations of all shapes and sizes are put to the test to meet increased consumer demand. According to Google, online sales throughout November and December can account for up to 30% of a company’s annual sales, while peak shopping dates such as Black Friday deliver upwards of three times more traffic for online retailers. Many small to medium-sized retailers often think that in order to grow they’ll need to make large-scale investments into robust stock inventory management systems to meet demand effectively.

However, with the increase in automation and cloud-based solutions, there’s a number of cost-effective ways that growing retailers can optimise their inventory management process to deliver greater financial return by choosing tech-led fulfilment providers.

Minimising disruption during peak

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One of the best ways to minimise operational disruption, particularly during busy periods, is to utilise supply chain data. Modern tech and software developments mean that many independent retailers can have instant access to business-critical information about stock management at their fingertips.

This is no longer just an option for major high street retailers and ecommerce giants with large budgets and tech capabilities. Affordable and accessible cloud-based supply chain management solutions enable SME retailers to pinpoint ways of optimising stock management to get the best financial return from the goods they are selling at any time. At the touch of a button, they can find savings, identify the most profitable stock lines, and maximise margins. With the right solution, and support, they don’t need to be supply chain experts to do this.

The power of automation 

Automation offers a number of benefits to growing retailers and can support streamlining processes for smaller teams. By automating the inventory management process, retailers will reduce the opportunity for error and ensure accuracy of every stock movement. This means retailers can track real-time analysis of existing stock levels, minimum order quantities, lead times and storage capacity for their business. Some software systems will also produce an algorithm for purchasing forecasts for your business to minimise waste.

This valuable data allows retailers to manage demand much more effectively and will help outperform competitors by delivering efficient same-day dispatch services to your customers.

Saving you more than pounds and pence

When it comes to optimising stock inventory, the right cloud-based system will help retailers make more than just financial savings. By using intelligent automation and technology-led management solutions, retailers will save hours of manual administration time every day – allowing teams to focus on other tasks within the business such as product development, customer services and sales strategy that will have a direct impact on their bottom line.

Customer satisfaction is key and there’s nothing more frustrating for consumers than delayed delivery of their items during the holiday season. Using an inventory management system and a fulfilment provider that has the technology to pick, pack and dispatch orders correctly on the same day will save retailers time in getting the goods shipped to the customer. It will also reduce time spent dealing with unsatisfied customer complaints. Being able to quickly switch on communications to customers about order cut-off times for same day dispatch or holiday closures will also improve customer satisfaction.

Retailers will also improve cash flow and profitability by saving on unnecessary storage costs ensuring the right amount of stock is in place and minimising overspend on surplus stock that could then become difficult to sell – particularly when it’s anything particularly seasonal such as decorations or themed gifts.

If you’re unsure where to begin, it’s worth spending some time researching fulfilment providers to speak to about your business to get their insight and advice. A good provider will do more than pack and deliver goods. They will work with an SME retailer to extract maximum value from this part of their operation.

Paul Taylor is chief operating officer at international fulfilment services provider, fulfilmentcrowd which works with over 500 SME retailers nationwide.

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