The holidays can make or break a retailer. They can bring empty shelves, footfall increases in store and a huge increase in online traffic for eCommerce.
One of the keys to success during this time of year is not just organization and playing holiday music, it's data.
Below we have outlined the 4 reasons why data is the ultimate tool for retailers during the holidays.
Every holiday has a new product that people want to see under their holiday tree. This could be a new games console, a particular brand of trainers or the latest bike, but one thing that is always the same every holiday is that stock levels for the most popular presents always run low. This can spark fierce competition amongst the diminishing number of retailers with stock and potential profits far exceeding the product value.
This can either be avoided or exploited by retailers in advance, by looking at the data that may suggest which products are going to be the most popular over the holidays. This could be done through social media analysis or just through looking at historical data and what will be released around the holiday time.
Equally, stock of products that retailers mistakenly believed to be popular may be left gathering dust in a warehouse after demand was significantly less than expected. Having a huge excess of unsold products is the last thing that any retailer wants. Therefore, using data to predict how much of a particular item is likely to be sold can help to have optimum stock levels without being left with excess.
The internet has allowed retailers to have more access than ever to how their customers respond to their advertising and what they could do to improve their offerings online. This could be anything from the particular deals that people liked on social media or where people entered their site from. This is an irreplaceable marketing tool that allows companies to make tweaks to their campaigns within hours, which can be the difference between success and failure.
Many retailers with a particular audience will also need to know not only where their direct customers come from but also where they can advertise to those who may be buying for them. During the holidays, the majority of buying is done for other people, meaning that the demographics that your business may be aimed at will not necessarily be the ones buying from you.
Data can help to identify where these alternative demographics are coming from and how you can best attract them to you.
As well as being able to promote and stock products, the ability to have them in the hands of the customer is key to a retailers success. This could be having enough people on the shop floor in a brick and mortar store, or staff in a warehouse to get packages sent out to customers in good time.
Data can help to identify where staff are going to be needed and how they can work most effectively to get everything achieved. Having the ability to pinpoint which departments are making mistakes or are understaffed can then easily to be rectified without the results affecting the overall performance or customer experience.
Equally HR analytics will allow retailers to identify where areas of friction or difficulty exist within any process, which can then be addressed to improve performance moving forward. It will allow retailers to become more agile and adapt to challenges or peaks and troughs in demand.
The difficulty for retailers during the holidays is that consumer buying habits are thrown out of the window.
Apart from sales of holiday themed items, the idea of giving during the holidays means that it is not easy to predict exactly what will be popular and what won’t. Trying to predict required stock levels six months before is not going to be possible with a starting point at 0, it would be impossible to know with any accuracy how much you need.
This is why data is so important to retailers at this time of year. The more data they can collect for the holiday sales in particular, the more information they will have to work from in the coming years. This will include the above as well as metrics that may not even seem relevant in the short term. The more information that can be collected in what is undoubtedly the most exciting, but also the most difficult shopping time of the year will be key to success in the future.