Checklist: 8 Tasks To Avoid Summer Stockout Disaster

We’ve touched down into everyone’s favorite time of year – summer holiday season.

But amidst the vacays and sunny days, there’s a downside to this period. As you and your buying or merchandising team head to the beach, inventory can get neglected and stockouts become a major risk.

Running out of stock – especially of best-selling items – can damage your reputation, hit your profit and disappoint customers (sometimes causing you to lose them to competitors, forever).

To avoid a summer stockout disaster, it’s vital your people, processes and platforms are working in harmony and set up for success – and we’re here to help.

Work through this handy checklist of tasks to ensure your inventory is kept in check and the risk of stockouts is eliminated this summer…

1. Make sure your data is accurate

Inaccurate data can be a problem, especially if the person you’d turn to for a factcheck is on leave. If you can’t rely on your inventory and sales data, your risk of not ordering enough stock is automatically higher – and so is your risk of ordering too much stock, which can be just as dangerous for your bottom line.

So before you set your out of office, make sure your sales and inventory data is accurate (sadly, this is likely to mean moving away from outdated and notoriously error-prone spreadsheets). Consider investing in a trusted inventory planning tool for support with this.

2. Integrate your platforms

Multiple tools, apps and platforms are necessary to run most modern businesses, but when different people are responsible for monitoring different platforms, and some of those people are on holiday, it can become challenging.

The key to ensuring smooth data flow and consistency is to integrate your tools and platforms directly with your inventory planning software. This can avoid gaps in data and guesswork, which can both lead to stockouts.

Your inventory planning software should be able to offer native integrations so you (and other key members of your team) can gain complete control and consistent visibility, cutting the risk of running out of stock.

3. Stick to one system of record

Just like inaccurate data or unintegrated tools, using multiple sources for your data is a major risk factor for stock outs – especially during the holiday period when key members of your team can be out of the office.

It’s best to stick to one system of record and one source of sales data. Instead, commit to a central source of truth for all your inventory planning, such as Inventory Planner. This will ensure your whole team can access reliable insights they all understand, whenever needed.

4.  Consider better training

Google or Excel spreadsheets that only one person understands are a no-go. Likewise, it’s no use if only one person in the business knows how to place orders with certain suppliers.

Everyone involved with buying or merchandising within your business needs access to the same inventory planning data – and the training required to understand, interpret and act on it. As part of Inventory Planner’s expert-led onboarding process, training can be provided to all necessary staff.

Having informed and well-trained staff who can safely place orders as needed can dramatically reduce the risk of running out of stock over the summer.

5. Re-order in good time

During the summer season, it’s not just your people that might be taking a break – your suppliers might be too. This makes it especially important to place re-orders in good time.

Your inventory planning software should proactively inform you about when you need to re-order stock, but it’s also possible to set reorder points that trigger new POs. Consider extending your supplier lead times by a few days to give yourself a buffer against potential absences. This can easily be tweaked in Inventory Planner.

6. Find OOS (out of stock) patterns

As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed – and that’s especially true when it comes to avoiding stockouts in the summer break. Your historical sales data can reveal OOS (out of stock) patterns, which can give you clues about when you need to be most alert to the risk of out-of-stocks this year.

However, it’s also important not to be bound to historical trends. The ever-evolving trends of the modern marketplace, especially in this uncertain economy, means what has happened in previous years isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of what will happen this year. Historical trends are part of the picture – but certainly not all of it.

7. Implement demand forecasting

Reliable demand forecasting is the number one defense against running out of stock. By accurately predicting upcoming demand, you can ensure you always have the optimum inventory levels – avoiding stockouts and overstock.

As a top-rated inventory planning app on Shopify, Inventory Planner reveals which inventory to order, how much to order, and the perfect moment to order it, based on an accurate calculation of how much you will sell that factors in supplier timescales, seasonality and promotions alongside historical sales data. It’s every retailer’s secret weapon for eliminating stockouts – during the summer, and all year round.

8. Keep on eye on market trends

Although you might find yourself slipping into a holiday mindset, pay attention to consumer trends during these summer months. It can help you dodge the risk of stockouts.

The simplest way to achieve this is to ensure you and your whole team have access to the insights and reports created by your inventory planning solution. This can make sure key trend information, like a sudden spike in demand, isn’t missed – and ensure everyone has the information needed to make informed, fast decisions.

Check how many seats you get included with your inventory planning software subscription. At Inventory Planner, there is no limit – which means your whole team can access the information they need to make decisions, even when the ‘usual’ buyer or merchandiser is on a beach somewhere.

Eliminate stockouts the easy way

Book a free demo of Inventory Planner to discover how you can avoid stockouts during the holiday season and beyond.