The holiday shopping season has come and gone, and now is the time of year when merchants of every stripe take a hard look at their reports and processes, vowing to make improvements in the coming year.
Previously, we suggested that taking careful notes during the busy season was critical for the kind of forward-looking plans that retailers want to make. Besides just recording sales numbers, your notes should allow you to ask:
- Which items moved, and which didn’t?
- Did items get out on time?
- Did your operations scale up during busy periods, or were there bottlenecks in picking, packing, and shipping operations?
- Was staffing an issue?
- Did orders flow without error from shopping cart to shipping station?
- Did you have the right mix of promotions and products?
- What regions of the country are generating the most orders, and what are they ordering?
- What channels brought the most new shoppers? The most loyal shoppers?
- How did you stack up to competitors?
- Did the news yield any explanations or surprises?
These kinds of questions are important to ask (and answer) during your post-mortem, no matter if you are large or small, online or omni-channel.
Take some of the larger brick-and-mortar retailers like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and JCPenney. Although holiday sales were up, overall sales were down throughout November and December. Why? Part of it had to do with the shift to online purchasing. The in-store traffic that was left was concentrated on Black Friday and the few days leading up to Christmas. Even that traffic was bought at a steep price, in the form of loss-leader discounts.
And so, in their post-mortems, all three chains have decided to close stores that are less productive, revise their promotions, and leverage their growing online presence.
On the other hand, many eCommerce merchants had an opposite problem: The surge in online sales meant that inventory frequently ran out, or that orders were delayed due to bottlenecks in the pick-and-pack process. Many customer service departments were swamped, which did some real brand damage.
Your situation might be like one of these, or it could be something different. The point is that you cannot formulate a plan until you move from anecdotes to an analysis of data. This requires a post-mortem.
So how should you proceed with your own holiday post-mortem?
Materialogic helps many businesses scale their warehousing, fulfillment, and logistics to accommodate changes throughout the year. If your team is interested in conducting part of their post-mortem with a knowledgeable 3PL partner, contact us today!