Seasonal Supply Chain Management
Seasons change but far too often product inventory stays the same.
While we live in a vastly modernized world, supply chain management seems to have been left out for small businesses. Let’s change that that this year and make this the season where small business fully leverages seasonal flows.
Winter is coming, so we’ll mostly focus on that but seasonality poses many problems to small business retailers. We all know the story of consumers coming in looking for a product a little too early or a little too late. Unfortunately for consumers, and by virtue retailers, inventory levels and storage capacity plays way too large a role in what seasonal products will be brought in and in what quantity.
Sure, any retailer could place an order for booties in December and expect them to be sold out before long, but what of that order that might need to be placed in February? The question on most minds is that while they know consumers will need them (at least in colder states) they’re not sure if they’ll still be needed come March and April. This could have disastrous implications for a small business; especially when you multiply the effects by multiple products which are seasonally exclusive.
Unfortunately the questions go from “What does the consumer need?” to “What will I be able to sell in time and do I have enough storage space to accommodate these products until next season?” This isn’t out of malice to the consumer but preservation for many retailers. The solution, simple as it may be, was not available until recent. Much as the internet has improved the consumer-end of retail it’s now improving business-to-business (B2B) processes as well.
Supply chain management isn’t something you hear tossed around often by small businesses and why would it? Many supply chain solutions have been unavailable to small businesses, save for the upgrades in shipping logistics. ShopKetti.com is working to help small business better manage their supply chain and diversify it. Gone are the days of $500 order minimums. In their place are small unit based quantity requirements; often just 2–4 unit requirements per product. Think about what that means for retailer flexibility. For the first time retailers can sustainably test new products with their consumers because they don’t have to place large orders or push poorly selling products. Furthermore, diversification means less volatility when one product creator is out of inventory or can’t accommodate a sale. For small retailers, divestment is necessary to stay competitive.
That being said, how should you rework your seasonal purchases in order to fully leverage this strategy? As mentioned earlier, winter is approaching and we suggest retailers diversify and break up some of their orders. Whereas you may have placed one or two large orders containing winter specific products such as booties and sweaters you can instead place one large order and multiple small orders as the season progresses. This will ensure you carry a safe amount of inventory for any season specific product while simultaneously reducing the risk of stagnant inventory. In other words, not ending up with old sweaters that do nothing but gather dust through August.
Where you would have placed an order with one or two sweater brands you could now place multiple small orders (think 4–8 units each) with multiple brands without worrying about meeting high order minimums. While this strategy won’t be appealing to all retailers, we recognize a growing subset of independents want to provide a wide array of products to consumers without expanding inventory levels and mitigating any additional cost or fuss.
While consumers continue to purchase via Amazon, Jet, and Chewy, they’re still going to retailers for advice and having a more diverse and revolving inventory might help keep those consumers in your store.
ShopKetti is a wholesale platform connecting independent creators and retailers in the pet industry. Explore the community and join for free at shopketti.com