3 Tips for Retailers to Stay Ahead This Holiday Season
This year hasn’t been like any other for retailers, and the upcoming holiday season promises continued challenges — and opportunities. Consumers are predicted to do more of their shopping online and earlier due to the pandemic, so it’s a crucial time for retailers to ensure they’re best equipped to navigate the impending surge in e-commerce sales.
1. Ensure proper inventory levels to maximize fulfillment.
The pandemic has opened up new markets and created new levels of product demand, and as a retailer you must ensure you’re able to meet the increased activity that comes with holiday shopping. We’ve also seen the pandemic expose issues in the global supply chain, a challenge that’s expected to continue through the rest of the year as e-commerce booms.
It’s important to take a close look at inventory levels. Is it time to increase the amount of your most popular products, add new products, remove lower-selling products, etc., to ensure you can fulfill orders and keep your customers satisfied? It would also be strategic to assess staffing levels and potentially invest in additional seasonal team members for in-person or e-commerce fulfillment support to ensure success.
2. Explore automated solutions that drive efficiency and scale.
Retailers are already spread thin, and the uniqueness of the 2020 holiday season brings additional complexity and stress to day-to-day operations. You should use this time to look at how your business is running and identify any outdated processes that could hinder your ability to optimize efficiency and adequately scale to meet increased seasonal demands. If you’re doing something manually that can be automated, it’s time to make a change. For example, consider switching from manual data entry for orders to implementing an order management system that’s also equipped with shipping management. Not only will this help you manage all data in one place, but it will also help you avoid human errors that can happen when you’re juggling numerous tasks.
With the busy retail season upon us, it may seem daunting to implement new technology, but help is available. Consider working with a partner company. For instance, if you're struggling to identify who is buying your product, when they're buying, and through what channel, engaging a trusted partner can help you avoid overspending on marketing and ensure you’re reaching your target audience.
3. Get creative with your online presence and marketing.
If you haven’t already done so, it's time to take your business online and implement digital strategies to engage customers heading into the holiday season. To ensure your business is top-of-mind and breaks through, you need to get creative. If you own a retail shop, consider hosting virtual events or “trunk shows” through online platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts, where you can display your products, offer special promotions, and engage with customers.
You should also consider leveraging influencers to promote your product or business. This doesn’t have to be large scale or expensive, taking time to search social media to find relevant, influential people who can help market your product. You can also encourage user-generated content by posting customers' unboxing videos or publishing content customers tag your brand in. These are simple ways you can build your brand and relationships with customers this upcoming holiday season.
With e-commerce hitting unprecedented levels, now is a critical moment for retailers. And although it may seem daunting, you don’t have to do this alone. Implementing technologies and turning to trusted partners to help you understand where your business is and where it's going can ensure success long after the holiday push.
Maria Melo is a senior business advisor at Yahoo Small Business, which helps companies start and grow their businesses online.
Maria Melo is a senior business advisor at Yahoo Small Business. Maria Melo has been working with new and established e-commerce merchants for over 20 years to help them grow their businesses. Maria has also spent over 14 years working with her family in their brick and mortar retail store and is part owner of her own retail wine shop with her brother and sister.