From Thanksgiving through to the new year, the peak season shopping months bring out the shopper in almost everyone. That can be great for your business, as long as you’re ready to meet ever-rising customer expectations. To make the most of this year’s upcoming rush, start getting ready now.
While 2020 has been full of the unexpected, here are 12 ways you can wrap up the year on your terms with peak season planning!
1. Plan now, adjust later
In 2020 planning may feel like it’ll involve a lot of guesswork, but it pays to have a roadmap for navigating the busy season. In turn, you can anticipate potential speed bumps before you hit them. Instead of using last year’s sales, take a look back at last year’s challenges. Consider whether you could’ve done with better production, inventory, staff levels, shipping options or other resources. Most importantly, revisit your peak season plan regularly to see whether your performance is in-line with your projections. You’ll need to stay flexible about increasing or decreasing production or staffing if the holiday shopping season proves to be slower or busier than you thought.
2. Fine-tune your website for peak season shopping
Online shopping has surged this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, it’s predicted that 30% of global retail sales will be made online this holiday season – at least 10% more than normal. If your business sells online and offline, make sure you’re ready for a higher volume of e-commerce activity. Fix any shortfalls in your customers’ online shopping experience and to optimize your site for SEO to make sure shoppers find you first. Look into your data analytics for further insight to your customers’ engagement, especially whether they are dropping out of the purchase funnel before checkout (a sure sign of a customer experience gone wrong). And remember, any major changes in your platform or site design should be completed and tested before the rush hits.
3. Use social media to boost your sales
The PWC 2019 Global Consumer Survey shows that customers are even more influenced by a brand’s presence and reputation on social media than by celebrity endorsements. Interact with reviews (good and bad) and even provide incentives to fans of your pages for additional sales opportunities. Nowadays, customers are constantly engaging with brands on social media – occasional posts and tweets don’t cut it. A strong online marketing strategy can increase sales when supported by a good social media presence. Increase your social media presence early (now!) and meet the eyes of potential holiday customers before they’re even in the market – chances are they’ll remember you when shopping for gifts.
4. Stay in-stock for pickup orders
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, curbside, inside and even drive-through pickup options will be in high demand. While pickup orders may not have been big business for your store before, make sure you have a process in place for this peak season. Consider hiring temporary staff to help fulfil orders in-store, ensure items are in-stock and run a designated pickup station. It’s crucial to recruit and train all workers (permanent and peak season) ahead of time so that they get to know your systems and any new measures you need to meet pickup demands.
5. Share your peak season order deadlines well in advance
To help manage your customer expectations, share any order deadlines well in advance. Setting specific deadlines to order products “in time for the holidays” is a good way not only to manage expectations but also to build momentum, excitement and a sense of urgency. Ensure the date is visible during the purchasing process and on your home page. And remember, if you do have an unavoidable delay in fulfillment, it’s best to be upfront with customers.
6. Locate your best sellers front and centre in your packing department
You may already be able to anticipate which products are going to be the hottest sellers this season. Place them closest to workstations in your fulfillment warehouse where packagers can easily access them. It may only save minutes on fulfillment but over the course of a busy day, that time adds up over the season. Also, having a more strategic order may help you to better acknowledge your less popular items and decide if they’re worth their warehouse space.
7. Stock up on packing and shipping materials now
Get ahead of the crowd and pick up the majority of your packing materials now. With all your packing and shipping materials on-site in advance, you’ll save time and avoid delays in fulfilling orders – especially if they start coming in earlier than you thought. Better still, skip the trip and order the packaging you need directly from Purolator.
8. Be ready to make the most of the last-minute rush
Last-minute online shopping is a big opportunity for you, so make sure you’re prepared. Apparently, there is a surge of BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) orders in the final week before Christmas. So, make sure your staff and inventory are ready for a possible surge in orders, and frequently check your own site, to make sure it’s running properly.
9. Review refund policies early
Customers care about the ease of making returns. In fact, 92% of customers said an easy returns process is an important consideration when purchasing. If you’re planning on having a different return policy for the holidays, communicate it with team members long before you have to deal with returns, so your team should know how to answer any gift-related inquiries. For peak season shipping in particular, provide easy-to-follow return directions online, for a seamless return experience.
10. Boost employee morale
Chances are, your traditional holiday party might take a miss this year. But, there are still things you can do to boost morale and build team spirit. There are many ways to take the holiday party virtual to celebrate the rollercoaster of a year. If you’re suffering from video fatigue, or simply want to do more than host a party, consider supporting a staff-chosen charity.
11. Sustain your sales drive with personalized online advertising
Personalization is a great way to drive sales. Research shows 80% of customers are more likely to purchase when a brand offers a personalized customer experience. Targeted and relevant online advertising is easily attainable by collecting customer profile data. Find out more about your customers’ collective likes and dislikes, through customer service applications, sales databases and elsewhere.
12. Save time with convenient online shipping tools
At Purolator, we can streamline the demands of peak season shipping with online tools, flexible delivery options and over 1200 dropoff/pickup locations.
- Online Shipping (Purolator E-Ship® Online) is a convenient way to get all the services and documentation you need online, from creating shipping labels and customs documents, to scheduling pickups, tracking deliveries and more. It’s ideal for small to medium businesses sending under five shipments a day.
- Purolator Shipping Notifications notify you and your customer by email when your shipments have been created, delayed or delivered, and it’s easy to customize for your business.
- Purolator Billing Centre helps you save time managing and paying your shipping invoices.
At Purolator, we succeed when you do. If there’s anything we can do to help you make the most of the busiest time of year, just let us know. In the meantime, why not share our tips with your team with our handy peak season infographic below!