By Jordan Westley, Ecommerce and OMS Expert at Mintsoft
Planning for peaks is at the front of every online retailer’s mind – whether that’s strengthening your ad strategies, preparing for product launches or being smart about inventory.
Avoiding fulfilment disasters all comes down to staying productive and preparing for the upcoming busy season. Tech plays a vital role in this, ensuring you can offer the best service for customers – from their first website visit, right down to last mile delivery.
With shoppers becoming less brand loyal online and opting for retailers that can offer the smoothest service and best delivery options, it’s more important than ever to plan out and anticipate customer journey and experience above all else.
Ecommerce businesses can not only maximise sales, but increase the likelihood of returning customers, simply by being as ready as possible for the peak seasons and utilising technology in order to keep up with demand.
Christmas in July!
One of the scary thoughts of peak season for many online retailers is the reminder that Christmas prep needs to start as early as July in order to keep up with an influx of sales. This is almost always a less daunting thought when there is a streamlined fulfilment process in place; an automated system leaves less room for error.
Many retailers opt for an Order Management System (OMS), allowing for the continuous tracking and active monitoring of purchases and inventory levels. This ensures the fulfilment process runs smoothly and in turn, so does the customer journey. Not only does this allow you to process orders faster during the busiest periods, but it also removes the risk of the sometimes costly human admin errors that can come naturally when there’s high demand.
Opening up conversations around Christmas can also be helpful, especially if you have larger recurring customers and contracts. Discussing the peak season allows you to plot and plan, formulating your distribution strategy ahead of schedule.
This, along with having the right tech in place for when one of the busiest periods of the year hits, allows you to streamline orders and reduce errors. Most importantly, tech enables you to maximise the opportunity that surrounds this peak period, so you don’t end up with dead stock or the inability to fulfil orders.
Summer sales strategy
Summer is in full swing, and things are already hotting up for many online retailers. Consider packaging up products with summer in mind when thinking about your strategy plan. Certain products such as sunglasses, fans and sportswear, naturally seem more appealing in the hotter months. Put these particular items at the front and centre of your marketing efforts and across your website. It can help to list items under certain themes such as summer, much like Amazon does when it comes to peak periods.
Thinking about your customer journey is also key throughout the summer months. Shopping experiences should be hassle-free and so should getting in touch with retailers. Research suggests that 40% of survey respondents said that they are happy to be contacted by chatbots when seeking help online. Deploying a chatbot strategy could be key to maximising your time when it comes to responding to common questions, where customers are also looking for efficiency so they can enjoy the great outdoors!
Following this, it’s the picking, packing and shipping processes involved in summer fulfilment that should be handled with care. Technologies available such as order management software, ensures users are alerted in real-time when a new order comes in and, information will automatically be sent to warehouse operatives – allowing them to pick and pack the order as quickly and as accurately as possible.
Amazon Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day is taking place as we speak, so although you might be prepared in terms of the stock, if you’re a seller in this space, there are still a few marketing tactics you can use to boost sales.
One of the best ways to encourage purchases is to educate your customers and provide tips around shopping for the two-day extravaganza. Many customers are not aware that they can create personalised deal updates on Amazon – they simply go onto the Prime Day 2022 page and create deal updates for the items they want to follow on there.
On top of summer, sales are bound to be better when this annual event rolls around at the same time for sellers. One of the most common complaints from stockists is having to manually look through full lists of orders to determine what’s on back order and what stock availability looks like. Having somewhere to digitally store this information and create a centralised list can really help with prioritising inventory levels. Here’s where tech, once again, can literally save the day!
Black Friday, also known as Cyber Week, is one of the most anticipated sales periods for online retailers. Having your ecommerce store set up for an influx of sales this November should be a top priority that you’re already starting to think about.
One of the things that is helpful to do early on, is getting as many customer reviews and testimonials on site by the time this busy period rolls around. Purchase decisions are often made by reading through other user experiences. Customers have lots of sites to choose from when it comes to Black Friday sales and this is a great way to educate them and support them with purchase decisions.
Another top tip is to always have a range of payment methods available on site, so that you can reach a wider range of people when it comes to potential sales. You should also have strong delivery options and an easy returns policy, so that customers can purchase with ease.
Implementing a multi-courier strategy, rather than working with a sole courier will allow eCommerce businesses to offer more flexibility and options. Using more than one dedicated courier will also help to keep costs down.
If you opt to implement an order management system with pre-built courier integrations, then working with multiple couriers won’t even add to your admin burden. These pre-built integrations seamlessly connect with all the data within your platform, allowing it to automatically select the best courier for the job, based on rules you define (delivery date, product value, delivery location etc.)
Post-Covid service levels in peak seasons
Covid-19 had big impacts on order management, fulfilment and delivery processes across the world but now customers are no longer accepting Covid-19 as an excuse for late delivery. Poor customer service and a general lack of efficiency in the order process are not so widely tolerated. Post-Covid-19, shoppers are now spending less online but demanding better service when they do. According to a new study, two-thirds said they had noticed an increase in customer service problems at point of purchase and/or delivery since the pandemic began.
Peak sale periods are a real test on how effective a retailer’s order management and warehouse management systems are in meeting the high demands of customers. This is something that is crucial for retailers to get right, with 63% of customers stating poor delivery would stop them returning to a company.
Implementing technology such as a consolidated order management system can help retailers handle an increase in order demand, whether that’s supporting warehouse employees, or customer service teams during seasonal peaks. A sound order management system provides real-time data and displays achievable KPI’s, therefore reducing any errors and miscommunication in times where demand is high and retailers have to act quickly.