Believe it or not, it’s time to start making plans for the 2021 holiday season. It feels like the challenges of 2020 were just yesterday. Time waits for no business, though, and December will be here before we know it.
2020 was a remarkable year for eCommerce, with growth increasing by 46% overall. The impact of the pandemic meant that even the hardiest of online cynics embraced the logistical advantages of shopping over the internet.
Such an attitude adjustment, in turn, led to changes in the eCommerce landscape. Suppliers struggled to meet demand, leading to a backlog of orders. This situation shows no signs of abating, with many businesses trying – in vain – to find additional storage space. It appears that the world has changed, and there is little appetite to return to the previous shopping landscape.
On paper, more sales are good news for retailers. Rarity in consumer products just adds to their allure, after all. When the 2021 holiday season arrives, however, patience is in short supply. Any business specializing in eCommerce must prepare for the festive shopping rush to arrive early to avoid disappointment.
You may be wondering why this matters so much. After all, if online retail is booming, what does it matter when people receive their goods? The truth is, the supply chain matters a great deal over the festive season. Q4 in retail business typically brings in over 60% of their annual income, and competition is likely to be fiercer than ever in 2021.
More traditional brick-and-mortar shoppers will turn to the internet. If your business cannot meet demand and manage expectations, consumers will turn to another supplier that can. More importantly, these customers are likely to offer prolonged loyalty to a business that met their needs during this pinch point – especially if this supplier shows they understand what a customer is looking for.
To enjoy a successful holiday season as a retailer, you’ll need to apply particular strategies:
1. The first of these will be the layout and aesthetics of your ecommerce site. While many consumers will search for specific items as gifts, others will browse your wares, seeking inspiration.
2. Focus your promotion on items that have an abundance of stock, ensuring that you can maintain a steady and even supply of sales. In addition, ensure that all your sales are taken from one inventory, guaranteeing that deductions to stock levels are made in real-time. You’ll frustrate consumers if you cancel their orders based on an inventory error.
3. Consider your returns, too. During the festive season, people sometimes purchase in a rush–or even order the same item from different suppliers for security. That practice will invariably lead to returns, which can create a lot of additional work. Make your returns policy as simple as possible, and consider partnering up with a management platform that can offer your clients the options of an exchange to protect your bottom line.
4. You may also need to consider applying a statement and policy on returns pertaining to late delivery. Draw a line in the sand when it comes to guaranteed delivery before the holidays. Do not leave yourself vulnerable to refunding swatches of December sales in January because postal and courier services grew overwhelmed.
While the eCommerce industry is likely to see more trade than ever in Q4 of 2021, this does not make it a slam dunk. Selling your items is just step one. You’ll also need to ensure that an order is received on time, meeting customer expectations and offering a positive customer experience.
A consumer-centric approach will show that your business focuses on keeping consumers happy when they need you most. Such reliability will not be forgotten and ensures that you’ll receive their business beyond the holiday season. Good luck with your online trading this holiday season!