Labor Day has come and gone, the days are getting shorter and in the retail world, it’s time to get down to business and ensure you’re ready for the peak Holiday eCommerce season. There’s a lot to get done, but it’s a good time to take a step back, look at the big picture and make sure you’re on the right path to a happy holiday.
Here are a few tips to consider on both the digital and physical sides of the Holiday eCommerce equation to make sure your bases are covered when it comes to holiday planning.
Holiday eCommerce On the Digital Side
Mobile Matters.This should come as no surprise, but it’s worth repeating. eCommerce traffic from mobile devices is increasing exponentially and should be a primary factor in any decisions related to site design and optimization. By some estimates, mobile phones will account for 60 percent of eCommerce traffic by the end of next year. Mobile is becoming more and more important and needs to become a top consideration for any decisions – if it’s not already.
Test Realistically.Testing is a critical step to holiday preparedness, but if you’re not doing it right, you might as well not do it at all. We’ve seen retailers whose idea of load testing is throwing as much traffic as possible at their home page. While it’s great to know that your home page is stable, that’s not representative of the real stress your site will face under peak load. What about product pages, checkout, integrations with product inventory and countless other components that are in play when thousands of people are shopping at once? Everything needs to be working together seamlessly, so it’s important that any testing is representative of that real environment.
Anticipate Problems.Preparation is key and will help to minimize any major issues. But is anything ever perfect? There’s always a chance that something will go wrong, so plan for those occasions. For example, every holiday season there are surprise products that everyone has to have. If it’s something you’re selling, don’t let the traffic slow or crash your site. Think about these scenarios and know what your backup plan will be.
Holiday eCommerce On the Physical Side
Engage with Partners Early.Start talking to carriers now if you haven’t yet. Be prepared to tell them about promotions or sales that you’re planning so they can make sure that they’ll be able to handle spikes in deliveries during those periods. Right now, weekly meetings or calls should suffice, but as the holiday gets closer, the level of communication with carriers should increase to make sure everyone is working in lockstep.
Diversify.When you’re planning for peak, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. It’s such a busy time for everyone involved in the retail industry and there’s a lot of room for things to go wrong. On the parcel side, weather is always a big concern, but other events that could stop a truck from making a haul or prevent a plane from taking off are just as likely. Don’t rely on a single carrier. Instead, diversify your packages to minimize the risks.
Don’t Forget about Returns.Don’t Forget about Returns. In the past, product returns have been somewhat of an afterthought, but we’re starting to see how important they’re becoming to purchasing decisions. Last year, many retailers saw how liberal returns policies can actually help boost sales.
These are just a few of the things you should be thinking about as the Holidays near, and if you’ve got these things covered, you’re already off to a good start for this year’s peak season.