As October comes to an end, most people are gearing up for Halloween, but retailers are already getting started on their holiday plans. As we said in our July blog, ecommerce sales have been steadily on the rise for some time, but COVID fueled a surge. Many shoppers are finding online holiday shopping quicker, easier and less stressful than battling the crowds at their local mall. With just two months to go before the holidays are upon us, you need to make sure your store is prepped and ready.
Look to Last Year
You’ve survived the holiday rush before - use your past experiences to help you prepare for this year! Take a look at your numbers from 2020. What was popular? What needed a bigger push? Do you expect things to be different this year? By studying the trends from last year’s season, you can forecast this year and be better prepared.
In that same line of thinking, reflect on any roadblocks or issues that you faced in 2020. Develop solutions for those kinds of issues now, before you’re in the weeds. Perhaps last year went well, except you ran out of stock for your most popular product. Use your forecasting system to make sure that you have enough of all your products to get you through the season. More importantly, prep for any potential problems before they happen - meaning don’t be afraid to ask yourself what could happen. This is not to hurl you into doomsday thinking either. Rather it should give you the chance to prepare for any minor or major setbacks.
Of course this means that you should have your best customer support at the ready should customers be impacted by any kind of hiccup. Some things are out of your control, but the way in which you handle them will impress your customers and keep them coming back.
Mark the Date
This time of year is chalk full of holidays and events. Thanksgiving, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, there’s so much going on it’s hard to keep it all straight! Start a calendar and list important dates and any promotions you plan to have with them. Go a step further and list when those promotions will start and end, as well as when you will start marketing for them and how. It can be incredibly helpful and stress REducing if all of this is automated and ready to go before the season. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s nice to know that one of Shopify’s many email marketing apps, or their own email marketing system in your Admin Dashboard, is taking care of the hard labour for you. You can send abandoned cart emails or suggest other products your customers might like. They will make it easy to take care of business for you and increase sales and conversions.
Beware of Shipping Delays
We have all experienced it in some way or another - especially during the pandemic. The supply chain has been severely impacted, although, COVID isn’t the only thing to blame. Shipping strikes and extreme weather, causing labor and material shortages, have also contributed to the problems in the global supply chain in the last few years. These complications cause shipping delays, increased costs and inventory shortages. On top of that, local posts are also experiencing increasing volumes and longer delays, which is only set to spike during the holidays. This is a much larger problem than your store can deal with on its own. Your best way forward is to prepare for the worst and manage expectations with your customers. Yet another reason it is imperative to have your customer support at the ready. Most customers today expect deliveries between 1-3 days, so you need to make sure you communicate to them if it’s going to be longer.
We’re not saying this to stress you out! Take a deep breath. The holiday season is upon us, and it might just be the most wonderfully busy time of the year! But it can also be a fantastic opportunity to attract new customers and really wow your existing ones.
Earlier this year Shopify launched the Shopify App Challenge. The brief, create an app that helps solve a challenge amplified by COVID-19, but that would also have staying power beyond the pandemic crisis. We knew, without a doubt, that we wanted to be a part of this challenge. So, our small team set to work building our second public Shopify application, Recipes.