With the 2017 holiday shopping season primed to break records, you need to have your multichannel e-commerce strategy ready to go in advance. Without it, you’ll miss out on tons of customers and risk missing your growth and profitability targets: Up to 41 percent of yearly sales for some merchants is generated during the winter holidays, according to Pew Research. A solid holiday quarter is your best bet for a sustainable business.
Building a multichannel e-commerce strategy for the holiday season
With these numbers in mind, it's never too early to think about the health of your multichannel e-commerce strategy. It should efficiently bring your products to consumers and also address the unique challenges of online holiday shopping, such as:
- Supporting infrastructure: LemonStand estimated there were 12 million e-commerce stores worldwide in 2015 but only 650,000 doing $1,000+ in annual revenue. Most merchants don't succeed, and lackluster infrastructure - for product listings, order fulfillment, inventory management, and customer service - is often the reason why.
- Low barriers to entry/high competition: While e-commerce success is often elusive, it's still easy to at least start a store. So you have to go to holiday shoppers, wherever they are, because they have so many alternatives to consider: 73 percent are open to exploring new retailers, and 40 percent will bolt if site loading time exceeds 3 seconds.
- Volatile consumer demand: Many shoppers procrastinate, creating a last-minute surge in orders. The ability to reliably process and fulfill these orders via a multichannel platform is essential. Amazon alone captured almost half of Dec. 19 e-commerce shoppers in 2016, thanks to shopper awareness of its dependable 2-day shipping policy.
Top sellers overcome these obstacles with multichannel software solutions that automate key tasks. Here's where these tools make the biggest differences for them in winning over shoppers:
Staying on top of inventory
High transaction volumes during the holidays can overwhelm a poorly optimized inventory system. You need full visibility into stock, along with insight into when and what to reorder. Without inventory control systems that optimize profitability and warehouse space availability, even a holiday sales bonanza might not work out in your favor.
Multichannel e-commerce software can automate reordering, while smartly incorporating sales projections, historical data and seasonality to avoid over/understocking. Such adaptable inventory management supports speedier fulfillment, fewer avoidable warehouse errors and greater overall customer satisfaction during a sometimes stressful time of the year.
Catching attention with product listings
Time-pressed holiday shoppers form quick opinions on an e-commerce site; it only takes 0.05 seconds for them to decide if they like its look and feel. As such, it's really important to have an attractive, intuitive store design that is search-optimized as well as filled with detailed listings containing up-to-date descriptions and images. Good inventory will go to waste if shoppers can't find the right info on products.
This is where automation software can take multichannel e-commerce operations to the next level. You can easily bulk-edit your listings, assign multiple product listings to one SKU, sync across multiple channels and automatically reprice items - all from a single multichannel platform.
Simplifying the purchasing path
The longer and more complicated the checkout process is, the more opportunity shoppers have to reconsider their purchases. A Kissmetrics chart of the major reasons for cart abandonment included unexpected shipping costs (28% of abandonment), needing to create new accounts (23 percent) and confusing checkouts (13 percent). There's a reason Amazon 1-Click is popular.
Make life simple for the shopper and for your multichannel business. Pair an intuitive purchasing process with an advanced order fulfillment solution providing features such as consolidated order management and carrier-rate shopping.
Driving sales with deals and better fulfillment
Deals are central to holiday shopping. Deloitte estimated that one-third of gift purchases are tied to a sale or promotion. Countdown timers, kits, and bundles can be used to further entice shoppers with can't-resist offers.
Although it's not usually thought of as a "deal," a clear returns policy can also serve as a major booster of holiday sales. E-commerce purchases have a relatively high return rate. Giving customers the confidence that they can return something with minimal hassle may actually encourage them to spend more. One study of two merchants found a 357% increase in customer spending for one of them after it rolled out free returns.
Good returns management is just one piece of the order fulfillment puzzle. Multichannel e-commerce software gives you everything you need for fulfillment, listings, inventory tracking and web store SEO. Seize the opportunity for a better holiday shopping season with an intelligent multi-channel platform that will fast-track your growth.
Need more tips on how to make the most of this holiday season? Download our free guide to multi-channel selling!