The holiday season is an exciting and magical time for consumers, marked by the flurry of family celebrations and frantic shopping. For consumer-facing businesses, the holidays are exciting for an entirely different reason: November and December are a lucrative time for retailers, who can make as much as 30% of their annual sales in those two months alone, reports the National Retail Federation. Given that, on average, holiday sales over the past 10 years have increased 2.5% every year, it’s a safe bet that 2016 will be even bigger than 2015.
To maximize your holiday sales numbers, it’s crucial that your products make it to the right retailers’ shelves at the right time -- but manually processing orders or relying on outdated supply chain management systems is a sure way to miss out on that holiday magic. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions ensure that your products transition seamlessly from the warehouse to their spots under the Christmas tree during this peak commercial season.
The advent of omni-channel retail is changing the landscape of holiday shopping, and retailers must take notice in order to best capitalize on emerging trends. Shoppers are increasingly using their mobile devices to search for products and make purchases -- last year, 56% of searches during the holiday season were conducted on a smartphone or tablet, and the NRF predicted that online sales would grow between 6 and 8% in 2015 (to a total of $105 billion).
Still, shoppers reported making 43% of their purchase decisions at the store itself, and most of us are guilty of waiting until the last minute to do our holiday shopping. In fact, in mid-December of last year, a whopping 90% of holiday shoppers had yet to complete their gift lists, having finished just 53.5% of their shopping.
If you’re a manufacturer, you want to make sure your products are distributed among high-traffic retail sites to meet that remaining 46.5% of holiday shopping demand. But for retailers and manufacturers alike, maximizing your online and in-store sales numbers constitutes an incredible juggling act -- a challenge that simply can’t be met with antiquated, manual methods. A streamlined and transparent partnership between manufacturers, distributors, and retailers is essential if you wish to meet or exceed consumer demand.
An EDI system facilitates the automatic sharing of crucial information -- like purchase orders, invoices, advanced shipment orders, and more -- between trading partners. Regular and time-consuming updates via fax, telephone, or email are no longer necessary, so it’s never been easier (or faster) to get your products where and when they need to be. Implementing EDI not only ensures that you comply with the regulatory requirements of major retailers; it also streamlines the entire process of transporting your goods from the warehouse to those retailers.
Taking Demand in Stride
So what kind of results can an integrated EDI system deliver? Back in 2011, Mommy’s Bliss, a mother-daughter run provider of all-natural baby care products, was relying on off-the-shelf software and paper-based transactions to process orders. Then one day, they secured a major contract with Walmart and everything changed.
“It was the best day and the scariest day in the office when the biggest national account lets you know they want your product on the shelf,” recalls Yasmin Kaderali, CEO at Mommy’s Bliss. “At that time we were limited in how much business we could really do with bigger accounts.”
Luckily, they teamed up with TrueCommerce and were able to rise to the challenge. With the help of TrueCommerce’s EDI solutions, Mommy’s Bliss was able to get their products on the shelves of 3,800 Walmart stores in just six weeks. The point is, if suppliers want to capitalize on massive demand during the holiday season, they must seek out software solutions that are both compatible with the systems employed by the nation’s largest retailers and capable of managing rapid increases in product transactions.
What’s clear is that adopting an EDI solution is a surefire way to not just survive the holiday rush, but to thrive throughout -- and potentially break your holiday season sales records in the process.