How to prepare for the intense e-commerce peak season? It doesn’t matter when your industry records the highest sales, you simply have to be ready for that moment. Keep reading our entry to discover tips provided by one of the Arvato specialists.
Table of contents:
- The increasing value of the e-commerce market – what’s the expected volume?
- Challenges of managing the e-commerce peak season
Novembers and Decembers always abound in the greatest e-commerce peak seasons. However, this year is unprecedented. It can be stated that for online stores, the peak season started already in March when restrictions were imposed on traditional shopping malls. Obviously, some people returned to brick and mortar shops once they were opened but a significant number of buyers acknowledged the advantages of online shopping and decided to benefit from this channel more frequently.
When taking into consideration the rapidly changing situation concerning stores and the pre-Christmas shopping period or sales, we’re sure that the real peak is just around the corner. At the same time, the shock therapy that we all had from March to May 2020 helped us to prepare better (at least mentally) for the next records.
The increasing value of the e-commerce market – what’s the expected volume?
Analysts univocally agree that the value of the e-commerce market is constantly increasing, even though the prognosis wasn’t quite optimistic. This is undoubtedly a challenge for e-commerce service providers. As far as the customer service or payment methods are more and more automated, the shipping still involves a lot of physical activity.
Are all the online stores well prepared for this intense period? Analyses from previous years may turn out to be totally unconstructive and the upcoming time can be really challenging for many companies.
Challenges of managing the e-commerce peak season
If you want to efficiently manage your online store, especially during the e-commerce peak season, you need to remember a few aspects.
Customer service undoubtedly affects customer satisfaction. However, it can be observed that nowadays we finalize transactions without contacting customer service departments more and more frequently. The right UX of an online store makes it easier to access the necessary product and become familiar with its specification. Moreover, some of the questions are already answered by bots and visitors can also benefit from useful FAQ sections with the most common questions and answers.
Nevertheless, you always need to be prepared in case someone writes an email or calls you. Don’t hide your phone number, email address, or FAQ subpage – this information can only help you, it won’t do any damage. It’s also worth noting that more and more people prefer to ask questions via social media channels, so maybe it’s a good idea to delegate additional specialists to manage and administer your accounts.
There is probably nothing worse than an improperly-working online store during the peak season. Remember that generally, users wait only a few seconds for an e-shop to load. If your website isn’t displayed correctly during this time, you’re likely to lose a potential customer. In order to mitigate the risk, it’s advisable to:
- refine the website source code which improves store operation,
- test the server in advance to see whether it’s able to handle the increased website traffic,
- optimize the size of images on the website and limit the number of subpages to the minimum.
We believe that appropriate marketing activities bring numerous benefits to online stores. However, ill-suited campaigns can be equally harmful.
While personalized communication has become a standard, more and more often companies use automatic solutions and product recommendations. These activities aim at minimizing the shopping cart abandonment rate and improving shopping cart value. Obviously, stores should focus on increasing organic visibility in the search results as not every company can afford to generate only paid website traffic.
Special offers and sales are one of the most unpredictable forms of marketing. They make it possible to increase the number of transactions by lowering the margin and you, as an online store owner, should always beware of such solutions.
Efficient e-commerce logistics is another challenge. There is no point in increasing the number of transactions several times if customers still need to wait for ages for the order to be processed. Delivery time is one of the deciding factors that determine whether we choose a given store or not.
Looking at the above information, we can safely state that logistics is the key element of the e-commerce sector. By definition, it comprises warehouse services and delivery or parcels to end-customers. When preparing your e-commerce peak season strategy, you should pay attention to several crucial elements such as:
- providing customers with a variety of delivery methods (courier, post office, collection points, parcel lockers),
- appropriate warehouse organization and management which facilitates order processing,
- complete and correct integration of the warehouse system with the e-shop,
- increasing your operational capabilities, while taking into account:
- available surfaces,
- warehouse infrastructure.
In the case of new/extra employees, you have to take into consideration time needed for recruitment and/or arrangements with Temporary Employment Agencies, as well as (and perhaps most importantly) the essential training period before throwing your new staff members to the wolves.
Additional surfaces and warehouse infrastructures also require an appropriate approach, depending on the size and complexity of the investment:
- If additional workstations and basic equipment such as scanners or carts are the only new required things, then, you may need from a few days up to a week or two to purchase and organize everything.
- Adding another module to the existing area (as part of the sublease) is slightly more complex. In this case, you may need to equip the additional surface with electricity, appropriate lighting, and so on. This translates into a longer period needed to prepare the extra space.
- In extreme cases, it’s necessary to open a new warehouse. Depending on whether the building already exists or is still under construction, we can talk about a 3-6 or even 12 months investment.
- The use of advanced infrastructure (mezzanine, transport systems, sorters, or SortBag systems) means the additional time needed to implement given solutions.
Because of all the reasons mentioned above, we can state that good planning skills are everything. Think strategically and search for logistic partners that will not only support your strategic thinking but also design and finance the investment. In the end, they’ll also be able to smoothly guide your business through the e-commerce peak season!