It’s now November. The leaves have changed colors and are beginning to fall from the trees. The air is crisp and getting a little colder with each passing day. Baseball season has just ended, football is in full swing and basketball season is upon us. This time of the year is great for all of those reasons and so many more, but there is one reason that trumps the rest; the holiday season is officially underway.
While we all love the holidays for our own personal reasons, retailers are the ones who look forward to the holiday season most. The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for retailers and they know that this period of time can make or break the entire year. As the demand level rises during this time of the year, retailers must be fully prepared if they intend to maximize year-end revenue and profitability. Due to the small window of time retailers have to capitalize on the surge in consumer demand, the holiday season is also the most stressful time of the year for retailers.
In today’s increasingly digital world, one particular aspect of the retail industry becomes more important each year. Since being introduced to the world in the early 90s, e-Commerce has completely revolutionized the retail sector. Today, more and more consumers are choosing to shop for clothes, accessories, makeup, appliances, household items and much more online, instead of visiting traditional, brick and mortar stores. E-Commerce allows the consumer to browse and purchase a virtually unlimited variety of products online and then have those items delivered to their house within hours or days, or elect to pick the items up in-store. In order to provide the consumer with the best possible purchasing process, retailers nowadays must master the omni-channel experience. The modern consumer expects to see all of the same products displayed in the exact same way across all platforms. That means that what the consumer sees on his or her desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone must be exactly the same as what they see when they visit a brick and mortar store. As e-Commerce trends continue to grow, it is important for retailers to maintain consistency and promote the same message across all platforms.
According to Deloitte, overall retail sales during the 2017 holiday season will grow 4-4.5% compared to last year’s sales. That’s an extremely healthy growth rate for the overall retail category, but what we would like to focus on is the rate at which e-Commerce retail is growing. Deloitte predicts that e-Commerce retail industry will grow 18-21% during this year’s holiday season. Take a minute to think about that statistic. That means that retailers should have 18-21% more inventory on-hand for this holiday season and will have to hire more employees to handle the influx of business. An inventory increase of that size calls for a scale up of production and additional logistics to be worked out. If planned properly in advance of the holiday season rush, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if retailers wait too long to identify inventory shortages, the opportunity to capitalize on holiday sales might be missed entirely.
As the fastest growing part of the retail industry, e-Commerce will only continue to become more and more integral to the success of retailers in the future. According to government data, retail e-Commerce has outpaced total retail sales growth in recent times and is not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. With that in mind, it is safe to say that e-Commerce will be at the forefront of the retail industry for the foreseeable future. As new technologies grow in popularity, retailers must stay current on omni-channel initiatives and make sure that they are providing the consumer with the highest quality experience both in-store and online.
With the holidays and the biggest e-Commerce day of the year, Cyber Monday, quickly approaching, now is the time for retailers to identify and/or predict any inventory shortages so that they do not miss out on the enormous opportunity in front of them.