How to survive the holiday season
Brace yourselves for the Christmas shopping craziness
One of the most festive times of the year is just around the corner. Christmas season means family time, friend reunions, lots of love, parties, and presents! We love to give and receive. There is simply no better time in the year for gifting.
Gifts, gifts everywhere!
Last year, online shopping during the holiday season hit record. However, according to PwC’s 2018 Holiday Outlook report, we’ve seen nothing yet. This year, consumers will spend 5% more during the holiday on gifts, travel, and entertainment for family, friends and themselves.
When it comes to the holiday season, people shop on an insanely large scale. This means that retailers and carriers go crazy trying to manage all of these purchases and deliveries.
But, it’s ok! No need to panic.
The Green Route has come up with the ultimate guide for retailers and delivery companies on how to survive the holiday season.
#1 Learn your customers’ purchase process
How did your customers end up at your online store? Or, how did they end up buying from another retailer?
Most shoppers do their research before they make a purchase. They take their time and consider a new purchase for up to 13 days. Once they make a decision, they expect same-day delivery.
Customers do their research both online and offline. While some favor the online way for the time saving and home delivery, others stick to the physical stores to interact with the product and avoid shipping costs. But what shoppers are really focusing on is price and value.
In this tech era, the customers’ buying experience should be smooth and easy. As a retailer, you need to provide a positive shopping process, simplify the checkout and return process, and streamline the omnichannel transition experience.
#2 Go omnichannel
It’s true that Outsmarting Amazon was never this easy. Going omnichannel will enable the consumer 3.0 to have a seamless experience between online and physical stores during the Christmas season.
Considering that consumers carry out purchase research online and offline, enabling multiple ways to complete a purchase will ease your customers’ decision to buy from you. Buyers will choose the best way that suits their price, value, time, and convenience.
#3 Stock up!
With people going crazy over holiday preparation and gifts, it is a fact that you will sell like crazy too. The Christmas season is not the time to run out of stock. We do know that inventory management can get a bit tricky. However, this is the perfect time to turn the season into an opportunity, instead of a problem.
In this holiday season, going out of inventory will automatically remove you from your customers’ options and significantly impact your reputation. Forecast, purchase and store items in a smart way. Look for the best and most efficient inventory management model.
#4 Simplify your logistics
Think about all the items purchased on your e-commerce site last Christmas. How many items was that? Did you manage to deliver an end-to-end customer experience?
The logistics process is a chain of events, with the purchase being the starting point of the cycle. In its course, the process might face different challenges, like routing and scheduling, item size, customer claims, the location of facilities, tracking, and much more. Let’s not forget about the huge amount of items and competitors.
Sorting out parcels and planning routes to deliver all those amounts of packages does not have to be a pain. Complex routing and poor customer service is a problem of the past. Technology provides amazing tools for your logistics to be simple while saving costs and helping the environment. So find a tool that combines a simple process with smart analytics to reduce risks and costs while meeting your customers’ demands.
#5 Ship fast and free
Fast and free shipping is all that customers desire. During the research time, many online shopping carts get abandoned before the payment method is completed. Customers back down due to the delivery methods being too pricey or too slow.
Whatever the reason, shipping is a big decision element in the buying process. Just in time for the holiday season, Walmart in the US is changing towards providing a customer-centric experience. As a result, they recently expanded free two-day delivery for many of their items. This decision is putting Walmart ahead of other retailers.
Providing free or same-day delivery will benefit you during the consumers’ purchase decision.
#6 Avoid delivery-men turnover
We know how hard it can be to train delivery employees to do a good job. We also know how hard it can get to be a delivery man and have to deliver enormous amounts of packages in a certain time.
The holiday season is coming and that means huge amounts of items to deliver. Retailer and carrier companies need to keep up with consumer demands. To do so, sometimes they have to hire new people or considerably increase the workload for drivers. With lots of items to deliver and pressure from the management side, many drivers end up unhappy and quit. It all turns in a never-ending circle of massive pressure from the management, bad performance from the drivers and their constant turnover.
This will directly affect your delivery process. However, there are easy ways to simplify your drivers’ lives while maintaining high-level performance. Avoid turnover with optimized routes, easy step by step guidance through each delivery and all-time communication with the management.
#7 Customer experience
It’s true that we think customer-centered and all things we do is to offer a customer experience. This goes all the way from searching an item either online or in-store to the purchase and the delivery itself.
Many companies think of the delivery process as the least important part, but it is just as important, if not more, than the browsing and the purchase. A bad delivery will make or break the purchase, as it can turn it into a negative experience and hold your brand responsible. Even if the delivery service is done by a subcontracted company.
We’ve mentioned that fast and free delivery is a customer desire. Enabling real-time communication and tracking of the delivery is a big plus! This will provide an end-to-end service that will probably end up in more purchases on your store.
#8 Learn from experience
Gathering data and feedback from the whole process is key. Set up tools that can help you track your performance during every step of the delivery. Tracking your performance will help you find out where you are performing best and worst.
If you are able to detect the areas of improvement, it will be easier to know what solutions to implement to provide a better service and improve the quality.
#9 Think ahead
As mentioned, it is smart to learn from experience and it has taught us to think ahead. Not just for Christmas, but also for the National Return Day.
Just when you believe that you are done with all the purchases and deliveries, you realize you’re far from over. You managed to stock up, optimize your logistics, and deliver every item in the time expected. However, once the holiday season is over, it’s time to think about reverse logistics.
While some customers stick to the long lines at the stores, e-commerce has changed the way we return gifts. We demand a fast and friendly return service. Either as an in-store return or shipping back, providing this will tag you as an exceptional retailer and put you ahead of your competitors.
But, there is no need to worry! Optimizing your reverse logistics is as simple as optimizing your logistics, right?
With our tips, the Christmas season doesn’t have to mean stress and problems. Follow our guide, browse for tools, and take control over the holiday craziness! Make the best out of the holiday season and position yourself ahead of your competition.