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3 Holiday Inventory Management Tips for Small Businesses

“The holiday season can represent as much as 20–40% of annual sales” for some retailers, says the National Retail Federation. When items are quickly going in and out of stock and returns are being made in larger volumes than usual, small businesses that don’t have an automated way to keep up with their inventory management stand to lose a large percentage of their annual revenue. To help make sure your business doesn’t miss out on a big chunk of income, follow these small businesses holiday inventory management tips:

1. Reduce the Work You’ll Have to Do

Problem: The huge volume of inventory that moves around during the holidays takes extra time to track, but you’ll likely have even less time to manage your inventory because you’ll be extra busy putting up and taking down holiday decorations and dealing with more customers than usual. Solution: Reduce the amount of time you’ll need to spend tracking inventory by installing automated inventory control software before the holiday rush starts.

2. Get Alerts When It’s Time to Reorder

Problem: If you’re manually tracking inventory with a spreadsheet or paper method, it can’t send you an alert when an item starts selling like crazy and needs to be reordered. When a popular item turns into empty shelf space, customers leave disappointed and your business loses sales. Solution: Prevent items from going out of stock by using barcode scanners in your point of sale system and integrating them with inventory control software. Use the inventory software to create and monitor alerts when an item is getting low, then you can reorder before it runs out.

3. Process Accurate Returns

Problem: Holiday gift recipients often want to return an item without a receipt. If you have a large inventory or hired seasonal temporary workers who don’t know your products very well, it can be difficult to impossible to know if every item proposed for return was bought in your store in the first place. Solution: Barcode labels can be applied to any product. Even if you don’t have time to barcode every item in your store before the holidays, you can train employees to place a “required for return” barcode sticker on gift items. Then, a gift recipient only needs to keep that barcode sticker on the item, and the gift giver doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of a gift receipt. Manual inventory tracking can quickly turn the holiday rush into barren shelves and a stressful amount of overtime for many small business employees. Implementing an automated inventory control system can prevent all that and potentially earn your business a huge percentage of annual revenue that you didn’t previously know was possible. Invest in a better inventory control system now, and it could more than pay for itself by the time 2014 rolls onto the calendar. References: 1. National Retail Federation http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=Pages&sp_id=1140