Holiday shopping may kick off even earlier for consumers this year. Recent spikes in new COVID-19 cases have many shoppers worried that brick-and-mortar stores will close again this fall. And that fear is driving consumers to their laptops and phones to check off items on their holiday gift lists.
The retail industry’s unpreparedness for the sudden spike in e-commerce orders earlier this year has resulted in delayed deliveries, out-of-stock items and many frustrated customers. These experiences are prompting consumers to plan their gifting needs in advance to avoid a chaotic holiday shopping season. Seventy-five percent of consumers said they searched for an item online, only for the product to be out of stock — an intimidating statistic not only for shoppers hunting for that special gift, but for retailers working overtime to keep up with e-commerce demands.
The online shopping frenzy caused by the “buy now to avoid problems later” mentality might not lead to logistics issues for retail giants like Walmart and Target. These retailers are equipped to handle a surge of online shoppers. However, retailers without an established e-commerce presence could be easily overwhelmed.
Retailers and manufacturers need to master selling online to keep up with the overwhelming demands caused by unusually early holiday shopping spikes. Here are three steps to successfully prepare for the online shopping masses and deliver an exceptional customer experience:
1. Optimize Your Content for Visibility and 'Clickability'
Strong keywords for your products and website boost the likelihood that shoppers will find your listing when they search for products through a search engine. Driving traffic to your website or having your product come up as a top search result is the best way to ensure consumers see and purchase your products. For example, a retailer selling sneakers should include relevant keywords like “high-tops” or “lace-ups” in the product title.
2. Streamline Multichannel Distribution
Holiday shoppers on the hunt for the perfect gift will use various channels to find the best deal. To make sure they find and purchase your product, you need to appear in the channels they’re searching, like Amazon.com, Walmart Marketplace, Google Shopping, or Pinterest Shopping. Make sure all product descriptions and prices are consistent across all channels.
3. Use Automated Inventory Management to Keep Listings Up-to-Date
No holiday shopper wants to see the dreaded “out of stock” label when they’re ready to make a purchase. Automated inventory management tools excel at helping you maintain accurate inventory and product availability information. By updating stock information automatically across all your channels once an order is placed, shoppers won’t be disappointed with items in their cart being sold out when they reach the checkout page.
In 2019, consumers spent more than $138 billion shopping online for holiday gifts — a spending level that's expected to increase this year. By optimizing content, focusing on multichannel listings, and using automated inventory management tools, you can rest assured that the right strategies are in place to welcome a high volume of online shoppers and keep their spirits bright.
Marcel Hollerbach is the chief marketing officer for Productsup, a leading data integration company that helps businesses break through digital walls in e-commerce.
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