With the Christmas season just around the corner, and the world still navigating a pandemic that’s thrown the logistics, shipping, and fulfillment industry in a loop, this is a great time to lean your e-commerce business into the new landscape and drive sales. Not only is this the busiest time for consumers, but it’s also a critical time for e-commerce store owners as well. It’s predicted that as many as 61% of retailers are expecting more engagement and sales through their e-commerce channels this year, over previous years.
There is a lot riding on this Christmas season. Both businesses and consumers are looking forward to what the holidays mean in 2020. For consumers, it’s about shopping for gifts to send to loved ones they haven’t seen all year. For retailers, it’s about making up for lost revenue during the year and starting 2021 off on the right foot. Hence, you, as an e-commerce retailer, need to start your Christmas season preparations as soon as possible, to ensure that your store has a solid customer-pleasing infrastructure and the right shipping and fulfillment partner, to guarantee that your customers have the best experience with you and your brand.
Christmas Season Checklist for E-commerce Businesses
Part 1: Customer Experience
Ensuring your customers have a pleasant experience with your e-commerce store should be your top priority and primary focus.
Review What Worked in the Past
This is easily the first step you need to take before starting any Christmas season e-commerce sales and marketing efforts. It’s crucial that you understand what factors helped you in the past, and replicate, improve, and optimize for this year. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This means taking a look at your best-selling products, the media you used for your promotions and marketing previously, and even what tools you used to track inventory, sales, and fulfillment in the past years. With this data in hand, you can make the right choices to be even more successful this Christmas season.
Evaluate Your Overall Store Experience
In order to maintain the same quality of service that you demonstrated throughout the year, and carry it into the Christmas season, you need to make sure that your website is solid and that you can offer a personalized shopping experience to all of your customers. Is everything organized and logical? Do you have too many landing pages or not enough? How easy is it to search for your products? How personalized are you getting for each customer? If you’re on a marketplace, what are they doing for you, from a customer experience standpoint? You, as a retailer, have access to vital consumer data points for your audience, running from search queries, their shopping carts, purchase histories, and reviews on products and shipping. This can help you to update your website layout, make product recommendations, improve your shipping solutions, and boost your conversion rates and sales.
Check Your Back-End
On the more technical side, now is also a good time to check your site’s infrastructure. Your E-Commerce store needs to be able to handle a surge in traffic and transactions, so reach out to your technology partners and ensure it’s all up to standard. Also, have them check your site speed. Anything that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, can lead to high bounce rates. There are several ways to go about optimizing your page, and your partners can advise you on that. You need to make sure your site remains open and robust, to offer the easiest consumer experience possible.
That said, look into any automation tools that you can add to your site to help with traffic, product fulfillment, and convincing customers that aren’t converting. Depending on your platform or marketplace, you can enable abandoned cart notifications, for example, to remind a customer about items they left behind. These notifications can offer 2x-3x the clickthrough versus a targeted email. Or look at the software that can manage your inventory across multiple channels, so there are no discrepancies between in-store, online, and in the warehouse.
Have a Responsive Site
This Christmas season, many customers will be shopping exclusively online. This means retailers will face massive competition for attention, and the slightest thing could deter customers from completing their transactions. One key factor in consumers walking away from buying from a retailer online is their mobile sites. Close to 64% of shoppers in SEA use their smartphones and tablets for their online shopping trips exclusively, and if the content and the design aren’t intuitive and easy to navigate, customers will move away from your E-Commerce site and look somewhere else. This is also something your E-Commerce platform provider can assist with.
Have Holiday Specific Content and Products
This can range from deciding which products you’re going to offer this season and if there are any holiday-specific items, bundles, or promotions. This also includes updating your website to look more festive, to creating relevant Christmas season ads, copy, and social images. A good suggestion would be to create a distinct holiday landing page that can be navigated from your home page. Organizing all of your holiday items in one place can make site navigation a breeze and can also help you measure the products with the highest clicks, so you can share them at peak times to increase traffic, engagement, and sales.
Part 2: Sales, Shipping, and Fulfillment
Next, you need to focus on executing a great customer experience strategy, with a clear plan on where you’re going to sell your products and how to fulfill and ship orders.
Look Into Expanding Your Sales Channels
Your E-commerce store isn’t the only place where you can sell your products. Ideally, you’re already dialed into using other e-commerce sites such as Lazada or Shopee, but if not, it’s a good idea to explore other sales channels such as:
- Online Marketplaces
- Social Commerce (selling via Instagram, Facebook, etc…)
The bigger marketplaces can offer you valuable tools to help manage and automate some of your payment and fulfillment, so you can focus on getting your products out the door. By expanding your footprint across other channels for the Christmas season, there is a potential to reach a new market of customers that can help your business grow and scale going into the new year.
Consider Selling to International Customers
Taking your business global might be a goal of yours, but you think it’s further down the line. It’s actually not, and the international market should be a huge consideration during the Christmas season. This is the busiest selling period of the year, and reaching the global market is no longer the sole domain of the big brands. Businesses of all sizes can plan to expand globally for the Christmas season, as long as they use the right tools and plan effectively.
To best prepare yourself for this short-term expansion you need to consider several things:
- You should have knowledge about the markets you’d like to target and understand the taxes, customs, duties, and any other requirements those countries require. You don’t want any surprises.
- Use a tool such as PayPal PassPort to look at global buying trends and see what products are in demand in various markets. Once you find a market that matches your products, start researching how to best gain a foothold there.
- Consider partnering with a marketplace that has international reach such as Amazon or eBay to get some of your products into the market.
Figure Out How to Carry Out Your Shipping And Fulfillment
During the Christmas season, there will be a significant increase in orders. To prepare for this, you need to know how you’ll handle shipping. There are three primary options for this:
- Handle shipping and fulfillment in-house.
- Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a third-party logistics provider (3PL).
- Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a drop shipper.
Perhaps up to this point, you’ve been handling it all yourself; managing inventory, and shipping out the orders. At some point, however, the volume of orders may get overwhelming, and you’ll have to turn to a third party to help get your product out the door. In the end, though, it helps with customer satisfaction, and repeat business.
If Needed, Outsource your Shipping And Fulfillment
Thankfully, E-Commerce stores have plenty of options for outsourcing partners and tools to help you automate this process. The right partner, for example, should offer you a service that helps you sell across multiple channels while offering you visibility and transparency over your inventory pool via a dashboard. By monitoring the interactions between your sales channels and your supply chain, gives you real-time visibility and control over your inventory.
Offering your customers the best possible shipping experience, especially during the holidays, will negate one of the biggest pain points that customers have with E-Commerce. This almost guarantees that they’ll be back.
Don’t Forget to Update and Delight Your Customers
Once you’ve sorted out your holiday plans and your shipping details, make sure your website is updated with the relevant holiday information. Work with your logistics partner to ensure that you have all the shipping deadlines listed to receive items before Christmas season. Also, don’t forget to include holiday return policies, gifting instructions, and any other information you want to share, for seamless interaction.
For this latter point, consider investing in unique packaging that can set your company apart with a thoughtful boxing and gifting experience. Within that, also include easy avenues to return unwanted products via resealable mailers, extra return labels, and/or instructions on how the gift recipient can reuse the original shipping box for returns.
Wrap Up Your Christmas Season Planning with LOCAD
There’s no denying that preparing your business for holiday shopping is no small feat. This year has seen more and more people ordering online and relying on E-Commerce solutions, and that isn’t going to change relatively soon. In fact, the shopping trends that 2020 has given us, will most likely be around for the foreseeable future. In a roundabout way, getting yourself organized for the holiday season is a great way to prepare your business for what 2021 will deliver. In the meantime, Locad can help you fulfill your customer’s needs.
The team at Locad is here to offer their years of expertise to empower E-Commerce entrepreneurs such as yourself with tools to help you grow and secure your customers’ loyalty with faster shipping, reduced logistics costs, and facilitated expansion to new markets.
Locad offers a powerful solution that enables you to:
- Sell across multiple channels from one consolidated inventory pool, via our free software, with real-time visibility between your sales channels and supply chain.
- With LOCAD’s control center you are always up to date about your inventory and stock movements, and you can easily filter products that need reordering or do not move.
- Ensure that your orders have a high fulfillment rate and are sent out on time, helping your seller quality score on your marketplaces and facilitating future sales.
- Run a distributed fulfillment network to bring your stock closer to customers. By shortening the last mile we can provide you with a lower shipping cost and faster delivery.
- Make it easier to expand your business with on-demand fulfillment capacity and easy international expansion.
Running an E-Commerce store is really challenging: from the wide selection of platforms and channels to the local/regional/worldwide competition, an entrepreneur or business owner needs all the expert support he/she can get. We want to enable brands to scale their business and offer them insights and peace of mind to facilitate a successful holiday shopping experience.
Choosing the Locad solution brings you ahead by freeing your time now so you can focus on the strategic future of your business and your customers. Check out our guide to boosting holiday sales below to explore how we can support your business growth this holiday season.