If we learned anything from last year’s holiday season, it’s that customers expect flexibility, faster parcel delivery, better options and a mobile-friendly experience. It’s safe to assume customers will have those same expectations during this year’s holiday shopping season, but hopefully retailers have had enough time to fully prepare. Many retailers already have holiday plans in place to better respond to heightened customer expectations. It’s important you don’t fall behind your competitors during this critical time of year. Below, we offer a check-list of sorts to make sure you’re considering all the necessary components of your holiday season plan. Have a Realistic Plan for Your Holiday Fulfillment Process Plan out each step of the fulfillment process. Make sure you have enough items in stock to meet demand and make sure you can get that stock out the door quickly and onto customers’ doorsteps in the amount of time you’ve promised them. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to get an order from the warehouse to the customer. Delayed deliveries will only result in an influx of call center volume and unhappy customers taking their complaints to social media. Meet Mobile Demands According to the Multichannel Merchant Benchmark Survey, retailers said 25 to 29 percent of traffic came from mobile devices during the 2014 holiday season. Just recently, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, back-to-school mobile sales swelled by approximately 42 percent from the previous year, and all signs point to continued growth in mobile as we head into the holiday season. Those retailers that have responsively designed websites to enhance shoppers’ experiences on mobile, in addition to responsively designed emails, will better meet customer expectations. Convenience is key and customers will quickly move onto the next site if they’re not getting the experience they want. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew Keeping up with the competition is important, but trying to take on too much, then disappointing customers, is even worse. This holiday season retailers will likely offer competitive discounts and promotions like free or expedited shipping. Remaining competitive in these areas is important, but make sure you’re realistic about how much your team – and your budget – can handle. Make Return Policies Clear & Easy Making parcel returns easy and convenient is critical. Clearly lay out your return policy for customers, as this will be a top concern for shoppers this holiday season. And make sure your team is prepared for the volume of post-holiday returns that could be coming their way. _____ It’s not too late to make sure all the boxes are checked on your holiday season plan. Shoppers’ expectations only continue to grow, but we can take lessons learned from previous years and apply them to the preparations for this year.