3 E-Commerce Tips to Win This Holiday Season
Every holiday season is a championship race for e-commerce retailers. As the Covid-19 Delta variant continues to spread, this year's race becomes even more fierce due to the challenges with logistics and the booming of online shopping. While customers are striking another item on their shopping list before the "Sale" countdown ends, merchants are having an intense chase, from advertising listing and inventory management to customer service and logistics. Among these steps, there are three key factors. How fast and how well they're executed fundamentally decide whether the merchant can win in a holiday season. This article breaks down how e-commerce retailers can secure a winning position at those key steps despite post-pandemic challenges.
Optimize Branding and Digital Marketing Efforts
A consistent, integrated and effective branding and marketing plan is the first step to success. During the holiday season, the key to lock in customers’ attention is to echo what they care about. Consumers pay more attention to the listing or products that directly fit their seasonal needs. Therefore, merchants should always make brand page updates during the holiday season and optimize the page algorithm ahead of time to build a strong IT infrastructure for their digital storefront.
Companies should also finalize a detailed advertising and marketing budget prior to the holiday season, as the cost of running ads during the holiday season can get expensive quickly. Be sure to pick the prime time for your business to ensure the highest return of investment on each ad purchase. Commonly speaking, early morning from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and evening hours from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. have the most traffic. Brands should always invest their limited resources in the most effective period of time to maximize advertising spending.
Leverage Customer Service Techniques
The holiday season is one of the best windows in a year for merchants to quickly rank up in a rating system. The key to achieving that is to monitor key indicators, mine the voice of customers, and aim for a higher satisfaction rate.
For the key indicators, negative feedback and chargeback claims should be on the top of the list because they directly help brands identify the defects within the operational process and locate the negative factors that change customers’ purchase decisions. The A-to-Z Guarantee Claims on Amazon.com is another indicator that should be kept on the radar.
Simply monitoring key indicators is never enough for brands to improve. The mining process is the start of the learning curve. Customers only express dissatisfaction with the results, but merchants should follow that sign and mine the cause. For example, complaints about the gap between expectation and real products usually point to the lack of visual demonstration in the product listing page (PLP) or marketing materials. Merchants should reinforce customers’ direct connection between their desire for the product and the projected satisfaction they will get from buying the product. That link will help accelerate the last stage in a purchase funnel and convert desires to actual purchases.
Prepare in Advance for Post-COVID Logistics Impact
COVID-19 and the Delta variant have shifted the norm of online e-commerce and posed extensive delays for the upstream and downstream supply chains. With many companies starting holiday inventory shipping early in August, merchants have already seen the impact.
The global shortage of raw materials is elongating manufacturing cycle in many industry verticals. Furthermore, the global container freight rate has seen a consecutive increase since the start of the pandemic and reached a record high price of $10,300 U.S. dollars in August. Even though some carriers have increased the unit capacity to respond to the rise in price, the time of transit remains another concern. According to a global ocean freight supplier, the average time for door-to-door ocean transit in August also reached a new high — 15 percent longer than in May 2021, and 46 percent longer compared to last year.
Facing these challenges, the best solution for merchants is to prepare and plan every step ahead of time. Start a forecast of demand at least half a year in advance to complete an overall evaluation. Merchants should also book a freight forwarder agent at least two months ahead and submit FBA pickup in advance to leave a time window for potential delay in response. Book ocean and air freight shipping in advance and always have a backup plan for the selection of vendors.
The pandemic shifted the way the world functions and that change has trickled down to every business niche. Being in the industry that has the most sensitive reaction to these changes, e-commerce retailers have to react even faster at these key stages so they can offset impact and maintain growth. Retailers need to optimize branding and digital marketing efforts, leverage customer service techniques, and prepare in advance for COVID-related logistics impact. Securing the winning positions at these three match points will open a fast lane for brands that are racing for this holiday season.
Joe Wu is general manager of Oceanwing, a successful full-service provider of commerce solutions and the e-commerce branch of Anker Innovations.