Peak season represents a huge opportunity for e-tailers, but the end-of-year surge in e-commerce sales also comes with many pitfalls. In this article, you’ll learn how to successfully plan and manage this busy time of the year.
Did you know that some companies make up to 30% of their annual turnover between November and January? This period – also known as peak season – is marked by steep increases in online sales due to a succession of events like Singles Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as the winter sales. (Not sure when those days fall? Check out our Global E-commerce Calendar 2020 for an overview.)
But to be able to fully reap the benefits of this boost in e-commerce activity, you’ll need to come prepared. Because for all the revenue you can make, peak season can also turn into a major liability if your systems or staff aren’t ready for the sudden surge in traffic and sales. In this article we’ll give you some tips and tricks that can help you to successfully manage this busy period.
- Data is key
Use your sales and Google Analytics figures from last year to estimate how many website visitors and orders you should expect during the upcoming peak season. Which products were the most popular last year? On what dates and times of day did your web shop attract the most customers? Also send this information to your logistics solution provider as this will help them estimate how much extra capacity and resources they need to put in place to get your parcels to shoppers on time.
- Get your website in order
Make sure your back-end is healthy and all software and plug-ins up to date. Also double-check that you have enough server space so that the increased visitor traffic and activity won’t make your website malfunction or, worse yet, crash. You can do this by installing caching plug-ins or reducing the size of images. It’s equally important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. More and more shoppers are using their phones to shop online and a website that isn’t mobile-optimized may well push them to a competitor.
- Plan your resources
You will also need to ensure you have enough stock and personnel. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it will be impossible for you to benefit from the seasonal boost in sales if you can’t fill your customers’ orders due to depleted stocks or staff shortages. You will also need to decide on a marketing budget to draw customers to your website during this profitable time of year.
- Manage expectations
The huge increase in sales during peak season also means that your logistic solution providers will have slower shipping deadlines than usual. Manage customer expectations by communicating estimated delivery times and cut-off times for Christmas delivery through banners and pop-ups on your website as well as through your social media channels. Because such cut-off times create a sense of urgency, they can also function as an excellent conversion tool.
- Offer customers choice
One of the most common reasons online consumers abandon their shopping cart is a lack of choices at check-out. To boost your sales figures during this lucrative holiday season, it’s important to offer customers a variety of payment methods and delivery options when they’re ready to make their purchase. Include free shipping – another great conversion booster – if you’re able to.
- Choose your delivery company carefully
Ask potential delivery partners about their peak season credentials. How long in advance do they prepare for this busy period? How much extra volume can they handle? What’s their previous experience managing large numbers of parcels and sale surges? It’s best to work with providers who have ample experience delivering large volumes – postal operators for instance – during peak season.
- Don’t forget the returns
Do not make the mistake of neglecting the returns process; it is an indispensable but oft-overlooked aspect of peak season. A significant percentage of shoppers will return items they bought or received during peak season to e-tailers. This means it’s crucial to have a smooth and efficient returns process. Many shoppers balk at having to pay for returns, so consider offering free returns during this period.
- Keep customers coming back
Peak season can be a great opportunity to turn new customers into returning ones. But to keep hold of new customers, you need to think about retention strategies in advance. A great way of pulling in new customers is to send them automatic follow-up messages. In these emails, you can for instance alert them to your returns policy, tell them about exclusive offers, or give them a discount on future orders.
Curious to learn how Landmark Global manages peak season? Keep an eye out on our website for an interview with Jan Van Roey, senior vice-president for Europe and UK, about our meticulous preparation process for peak season.
Get in touch with Landmark Global to learn more about our peak season services.
Sources used to write this article: