Reserving inventory for flash sites
Flash sale sites have gained a lot of prominence in recent years, with merchants such as Zulily enjoying a great deal of success through this medium. These online stores are designed to present new and unique deals to customers each and every day, or in some cases, even every hour. By offering heavy discounts on a limited supply for a limited time, merchants can spur customer sales.
In the past few years, the number of flash sale sites has skyrocketed, spanning numerous different retail categories ranging from fashion to luxury goods, Read Write noted. However, not all have been successful due to the operational demands of running a fast-paced flash sale site. So while flash sales can give retailers a significant lift in sales, increased customer activity and a bit of excitement, they also come with their own fair share of unique challenges, chief of which is inventory management.
Managing inventory is key to the success
Flash sales put a lot of strain on retailers’ warehouses. Orders come piling in and merchants must be able to handle the sudden influx effectively. But even more important than fulfillment is the management of inventory. Flash sales are built around the ability to move inventory quickly, but customers will be sorely disappointed if retailers run out of goods after they’ve already purchased.
Additionally, retailers do not want to hinder sales outside of these flash events. For retailers also selling on their own web store or Amazon and eBay, inventory for sale must not exceed inventory available minus inventory allocated towards a flash sale. This ensures inventory is available for a flash sale and over-selling is prevented on not only flash sites but all other channels.
To make matters worse, merchants are still liable for many of the issues they may encounter when managing inventory, but they are that much more pressing. For instance, miscounting inventory is bad normally, as it could result in overselling items to a few customers. During flash sales, it can be an absolute catastrophe – massive overselling can create a customer service and logistical nightmare as businesses try to ensure everyone ends up happy.
Flash sales can be immensely profitable when done right. However, there is no room for error and retailers that cannot manage their inventory will be punished heavily for it. For every successful flash sale site, there is another one that was forced to downscale operations or shutter completely because of critical missteps.
Managing inventory for flash sales
Prior planning is extremely important to the execution of flash sales, and one of the ways retailers can better manage their stock for flash sales is by reserving inventory in their warehouses ahead of time. This allows retailers to allocate a specific number of units to support flash sales and should minimize overselling. Additionally, this enables merchants to keep selling products before and after sales without having to worry about dipping into inventory.
An eCommerce solution can play a pivotal role in helping merchants manage their inventory effectively. Reserving inventory and making smart moves with stock relies heavily on transparency and accuracy – merchants cannot sell goods confidently if they do not trust their real-time data – so the right inventory management systems can play a huge part in executing successful flash sales.