RetailStore has top tips to help retailers manage the January sales and dead stock

The sales have started and as unsold stock piles high in backrooms across the UK, cloud EPoS innovator Ian Tomlinson of RetailStore argues that there is a simple solution to the mass problem of dead stock

Tomlinson: planning post-holiday strategies is key

The post-Christmas slump has become a difficult time for retailers, since Black Friday and Cyber Monday the pre-Christmas sales has become an important and lucrative date in the UK retail and consumer calendar. The shift from Boxing Day and January Sales has had a draw back for retailers as customers as spending less money in the aftermath Christmas. With this in mind, its important more than ever before for retailers to carefully plan and prepare post-holiday strategies to make the January sales a profitable one.

January sales prep

Although customers may focus on pre-Christmas sales and finding the best bargains for presents, customers are still however willing to spend in the New Year – just as long as a retailer’s prices, discounts, marketing and in-store experiences are right.

January sales tend to be a clear out of what hasn’t been sold during the year prior, especially Christmas stock. Having too much stock is extremely costly for a retailer and huge amounts of cash is often stuck in stock that hasn’t been cleared. A retailer’s measurable success is usually identified through the amount of full-price stock sold against the full percentage of sales for the season. The average industry standard equates to 60% of stock being sold at full price and the remaining 40% at sale price, making sales seasons like January extremely important to retailers.

Prepare to discount

That said, January makes a perfect opportunity to meet consumer expectations to discount after Christmas. This period makes it the perfect opportunity for retailers to offload dead-stock eating away at bottom-line profits. Ensuring that the price is discounted enough might just sell left-over seasonal wear that could free up vital cash flow.   

Selling and managing stock during the sales isn’t always about the clearance items that you want to get rid of, planning stock to sell specifically during the sales period can help to identify ‘Special Buys’ like John Lewis who sell at discounted prices during the sales as well as clearance items, that retailers are often desperate to get rid of.

Emphasise on e-commerce and streamline delivery 

After a hectic Christmas, numerous flash sales and fighting off crowds to purchase the best bargain, many consumers will be enticed to shop from their own homes as online retailing continues to soar year-on-year (YoY). Online retail sales in the UK topped £133 billion in 2016, seeing a 16% jump from 2015. In addition, December 2016 saw eCommerce sales via smartphones rise 47% YoY according to the latest e-Retail Sales Index from Capgemini and IMRG. 

Reaching these customers is essential and should not be overlooked during January Sales, mobile shopping is fast becoming a part of the online shopping experience and acts as the most convenient way to shop – making it one of the most important aspects for retailers to focus on post-Christmas. Fast delivery and free shipping, take Amazon Primes’ next day delivery or fast-fashion online retailers Asos and has become a must do for maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction, since it acts as the incentive for many consumers to shop online.

Ensure offline is consistent with online: omni-channel

Delivering a seamless, unproblematic and at ease approach online along with great shipping makes targeting consumers to venture out that little bit more difficult. Retailers must deliver the same mind-set and message as if a consumer was shopping from home. The message sent out to consumers online must be consistent to the message brands portray offline, that means hectic crowds and overspill of clothes and products taking up the floor space doesn’t quite match the same faultless shopping experience received online. 

As a result, retailers must ensure that the customer experience goes beyond the effortless experience they receive whilst shopping online. Taking a different approach and thinking more innovative when it comes to attracting consumers into brick and mortar stores may just make them forget about the snags that come along with a January sales in-store shopping experience.

Explore visual merchandising techniques. It’s a great way to not only sell some key products but also a way of enticing the customer to purchase them. How well you present your sales items during the January period will boost your sales and act as a visual aid tempting the customer. Personal shoppers also go a long way to boost sales, keeping key customers aside from the hectic sale season and in a calm environment matches a similar environment provided by e-commerce. Differently, retailers can go beyond the customers’ expectations this January Sales season and create an unforgettable customer experience using the concept Retailtainment – a unique, unseen and entertaining customer in-store experience that is set to revolutionise the future for in-store shopping.

Why not download the lasted retail research report: “Retail Reinvented: Market Insights 2017”?

(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)