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Planning in Advance For Christmas - Stock & Sales Management

You might have noticed us talking about Christmas quite a bit recently, and I'm sure you are thinking "but it's only June!"

Unfortunately this business requires lots of advance planning to ensure we have the best gift basket and hamper offering for upcoming occasions, and the ability to fulfill orders. Producing gift baskets and hampers is very time consuming and all the components take up a LOT of space.

Christmas is our busiest time, so having stock arriving a few months in advance allows the packaging team to begin creating & adding hampers to stock ready for dispatch closer to Christmas.

We have some items arriving now, but these are more for photography purposes. The products and hampers we offer at Christmas time are decided in the Spring/Summer months. However production does not commence until the Autumn time.

Planning in advance has it's difficulties however & there are many factors to take into consideration:

Availability of Stock

It is all well & good picking the products you want to include in Christmas hampers, however it is advisable to check they are still going to be available in a few months time. We have been known to photograph a product in many hampers, only to be informed it has been discontinued when we try to purchase said product in a few weeks/months time!

Estimating Sales/Cash Flow

You have to estimate how many sales you are likely to make and purchase the stock to fulfill these orders in advance so as production can commence. This means cash flow takes a hit, as you are paying out lots of money on stock & won't actually see the sales revenue for another few months. There is also the risk of either under or overestimating sales and therefore purchasing too much or too little stock.

Time To Prepare Stock

Many of the suppliers we use are smaller, local manufacturers so they need to know large orders many months in advance so as they can get to work on production or at least scheduling the production for shorter shelf life products. If you come in with a large order at the last minute they may not be able to produce the goods on time for you, or the volume required.

Co-ordination of Stock Arrival

Co-ordinating when all the stock is to arrive is also a major task, as the warehouse manager will schedule the production of certain hampers on certain days. If a supplier lets you down and a delivery is late or short, it then affects our production. There is also only a certain amount a space available in the warehouse, so deliveries may need to be staggered to ensure there is enough room to operate.

Many of our hampers contain perishable items such as cheese, smoked salmon and ham. These items have a shorter shelf life and so do not arrive into stock until a few weeks before Christmas. They are also only added to the hamper on the day of dispatch to keep them fresh, so cannot be packaged in advance.

Summary

Although Christmas is our busiest time, there are also other occasions such as Mother's Day, Easter & Father's Day that require advance planning.

In fact we just had a delivery of Easter bunnies today! This is because we have found it difficult to source high quality toy rabbits, at a reasonable price, in the months leading up to Easter. One of the toy companies we buy from were having a big summer sale & so we snapped up their bunnies and lambs! Sourcing them at a reduced price also allows us to pass the saving onto our customers, by offering great value gift baskets.

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