Peak season is a key period for all online retailers, as the gift-giving season brings with it higher order volumes and spiky sales. It’s important therefore to think about not only on how people find your products through marketing and sales channels, but also post-purchase processes so that you have the right stock levels and delivery options to cope with heightened demand.
Our guide below sets out the considerations you should have firmly in mind to win big this season.
Black Friday… what started across the pond as a post-thanksgiving sales day is now a global bargain-hunt phenomenon that’s been extended to Cyber Monday; the online sales equivalent. We’ve all seen footage of shoppers pushing and shoving their way into high street stores looking for the next hot deal, but online traffic is actually much higher during this period, only with fewer injuries…
These events also act as a useful tool for predicting which products and strategies you should adopt for the subsequent busy Christmas and Boxing Day Sales periods.
Online sales are increasingly the first choice for buyers. Extensive consideration should be applied to every step of a business’s eCommerce operation. Such planning goes far beyond marketing efforts to bring consumers to your site, optimising your listings, and ensuring your products are found in high volume marketplaces. You also need to think about the post-purchase consumer experience. For instance, if you don’t have the right stock levels this could lead to delays in deliveries to your customers and with 81% of consumers unlikely to shop again with the same retailer if their delivery is late, this could harm future business.
Therefore, getting ready for the buying journey means ensuring a number of key factors are considered well ahead of product listings. This ranges from confirming stock sources and your suppliers, to choosing and arranging suitable couriers, and selecting the sales channels most appropriate for your specific products.
Industry trends clearly show that internet retailers are increasingly moving their sales onto Amazon, with a 20% year on year growth in 2021/22. Third party marketplaces are reliable sales platforms, and Amazon is by far the preference for online stores given its dominance and global reach. Venture Forge CEO, Andrew Banks, has years of expertise that have taught him many insights into why this platform is so effective:
„There’s also a very different customer that shops on Amazon due to their service proposition. Amazon Prime has hooked an entire customer base that demands and expects free next-day delivery – something that many brands still cannot deliver within their day-to-day business, let alone through peak trading“ – Andrew Banks, Venture Forge CEO.
While Amazon allows you to quickly sell vast quantities of stock via wide exposure, you’ll likely find that to manage the volumes you sell effectively you’ll need the support of a third-party logistics provider, who will deal with the storage, picking, packing and shipping of your items while you concentrate on managing your store. Huboo is an expert in how to manage sales from online marketplaces.
eBay is another channel your store can’t afford to avoid during peak sales period. During 2021, the platform gained a worldwide total of 187 million users for a 7.47% increase over the previous year.
eBay has particular value for sellers as it offers particular detail for product listings, with options available for creating in-depth product titles, detailed item-specific descriptions, and the chance to include high-definition images and videos. This user-friendly structure also allows for detailed shipping fees and delivery schedules to enhance buyer confidence.
Despite being a US-registered company, eBay serves 190 different markets worldwide, with 57% of its total revenue generated internationally.
eBay optimisation is a speciality of marketing agency, Frooition. The company’s Head of Marketing has overserved the value this platform has for sellers during peak season:
„Sellers on eBay have two challenges when preparing for peak. First, they must stand out from the competition regarding the product, price, and promotion. Secondly, and equally importantly, they must comply with the latest eBay listing best practices to ensure that their listings are optimised for eBay search“ – John Hayes – Head of Marketing at Frooition.
Take some time to consider your customer’s complete buying journey. Shifting a few bargains may seem like simple transactions, but most established retailers know that peak season is awash with businesses looking to sell their stock quickly. Without a clear and focused customer experience, prospective buyers will likely gravitate towards those marketplaces that not only support, but enhance the purchasing process. Consider optimising your listings with keyword analysis, ensuring your products are well found by the search terms that people would use to find them. Add descriptions into your listings, as online sales channels operate in a way similar to search engines.
It’s not only bargain hunters that will be shopping this peak season. However, high shipping costs have been proven to lead to higher abandoned cart rates. 69% of shoppers we surveyed said that they would abandon their cart if they deemed shipping costs to be too high so offering free delivery for your products can help your online business gain more sales. Working with an established 3PL can help expand your shipping options that you can offer for your customers.
To make the customer experience complete, you’ll need visible details of where a product is despatched from, and the time it’ll take to arrive. Tracking an item from ‚buyer purchase‘ through to picking, packing and delivery, and then communicating this to your customer, provides peace of mind and gives your customers reassurance. It also allows buyers to ensure they’ll be at home on the scheduled delivery date to receive their item.
This is achievable when you work with a logistics provider that has extensive dashboard tracking and real-time updates, enabling businesses to have complete transparency on orders and their whereabouts. Our in-house technology and innovative dashboard means that our customers have these key insights, no matter the time of day.
So, you’ve got your marketing plan in place and your products ready to sell, but what about the fulfilment process itself?
This is often the most important aspect of the peak season sales cycle, so it’s critical to get it right. What good is having your products ready for sale if they don’t reach your customers via a carefully arranged system?
If you’re still managing your own deliveries, this can be a time consuming exercise especially if other businesses are adopting similar practices. Outsourcing your fulfilment may seem like you’re letting go of an important aspect of your peak season transactions, but a 3PL provider with proven reliability in its service will save you time and money, and alleviate the headaches that comes with arranging your own fulfilment. Moreover, fulfilment providers have access to an extensive network of carriers, meaning they can offer the market’s most competitive rates, often via the most efficient route.
Some will also offer bespoke packaging services too, so your products arrive to the customer not only in a timely fashion but in the branding they expect and love.
In recent times we have seen global and localised supply chain issues including misplaced containers and bottlenecks at ports. It’s important to plan ahead of time to mitigate risk of this affecting your inventory levels. Using historical sales data can help you understand not only what products sell the most, but also when the highest volume of orders will arrive. Ensure you use this data to plan stock levels accordingly.
Outsourcing your fulfilment means you can instead focus on managing other parts of your business, and be able to relax during the holiday period without the constant worry of having to despatch orders on time and be dependent on a courier.
If you serve customers in multiple territories, having a fulfilment network in place for your supply chain has multiple benefits.
Firstly, you can shorten delivery times to your customers by working with fleets of domestic couriers rather than shipping internationally each and every time. This will also save you and your customers money on delivery charges, and is a much more sustainable way to fulfil orders. 81% of people we surveyed said they prefer to shop from sustainable sellers, so this gives you an extra advantage when selling.
Huboo has an extensive network of fulfilment centres across Europe that can despatch to anywhere in the world to agreed times and prices. Furthermore, changes can be made to stock locations at short notice at little or no additional cost or planning, thereby helping you serve key sales locations quicker and easier.
Getting all these things in place ahead of time can mean the difference between a good peak season and a great one. If you haven’t already done so, don’t fret as it’s not too late. Our speedy onboarding means sign up to shipments in a matter of days.
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