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E-tailers Need to Act Now for Holiday Planning, or Risk Profits

This time of the year is upon us again. Retail marketers have shifted gears in preparation for the holiday surge. To capitalize on the holiday sales surge, they are fine-tuning strategies and adopting best practices proven by industry.

The year ahead presents unique challenges to marketers as the changing economic climate and consumer trends complicate inventory planning and logistics.

Retailers and marketers who are late in planning their holiday campaigns may have less success than they had hoped. According to a recent marketing survey, brands need to be ready for the holidays now. Bazaarvoice Released on August 29.

In July, 11% of shoppers began their holiday shopping and 14% did so in August. Another 19% intend to begin shopping in September. Then, 35% more will start in October. And 57% plan to shop in November.

Nevertheless, this survey gives marketers some comfort as they can still prepare for the 48% who say that they won’t start their holiday shopping before December.

Zarina Stanford, Bazaarvoice’s CMO, said, “Every year, it seems that the holiday season begins earlier, and this year, it has already begun.” “As consumers’ purse strings tighten further, they are looking for great deals.”

Fluctuating Sales Forecasts

New Year’s Day apprehensions This holiday season, prices are expected to rise. Bazaarvoice found that consumers are continuing to tighten their purse strings and seeking better and bigger deals. This shift has caused retailers to be concerned, and brands and retailers are now using all their strategies to win this holiday season.

Stanford suggested that in order to engage their customers and inspire them to buy, brands should offer holiday deals on all platforms: social media sites, ecommerce, retail stores and more.

Stanford said that because shoppers give reviews a lot of importance, it is now the right time for brands and their social media content to evaluate the quality, quantity, and recency of the reviews they receive. The scrutiny should also include videos and photos of customers to validate the purchase decisions made by their peers.

Unexpected changes to the marketing plan may be a result of logistical challenges. A report R.R. Donnelley & Sons (RRD) shows that new market pressures on packaging and supply-chain issues may pose new e-commerce demands.

Lisa Pruett, RRD’s President of Packaging and Labels Solutions said that many companies were playing catch-up in order to get operations support after the Covid-19 outbreak. “But now, as market conditions are steadying, we are seeing companies return to more strategic decision-making around their packaging and label needs — all in an effort to increase efficiency and agility while trimming unnecessary costs.”

The shifts in shopping create supply-chain kinks

RRD’s study found that to prepare for the holiday rush, companies involved in the supply-chain are making adjustments that will help them meet the ever-changing shopping trends.

In the last year, disruptions in supply chains and other market forces have led 87% respondents to change their packaging and label sourcing methods.

In response to the increase in ecommerce, the majority increased their inventory. Another 36% hired more staff. A further 34% expanded their warehousing. And a final 39% increased their support from outside vendors. The survey also revealed a decrease in the number of staffing issues and less strain on capacity.

Pruett said that organizations should place greater emphasis on forecasting as a result of recognizing these challenges.

She has seen her company’s customers benefit, as they can make better decisions and adjust to the changing market conditions.

Preparation for the event: Step up your preparation

Becky Parisotto is vice president for commerce and composable commerce at Omni-retail. Orium She has three steps that she tells her e-commerce clients about to prepare for holiday marketing and retailing needs.

First, become as informed as possible about the changes in your industry. Retailers should know whether their Black Friday operations will be the same as those on a Tuesday in may.

This requires a lot more effort and coordination outside of normal business hours. However, if it’s not done correctly, you may find that the phone rings during Black Friday. Make sure that your website is stable. She told E-Commerce Times, “Catch any problems before the live site goes up.”

On the website, check that the APIs and integrations can maintain data transmissions even when the site is under a heavy load. Even though ecommerce systems are usually designed for such resilience, you should be aware that they’re not the only ones susceptible to failure. Around nine out of every 10 problems are the result of other causes.

Custom APIs allow businesses to integrate data into their platforms from their databases and business systems. The data may be very slow and orders could get out of sync when the API pulls your load.

She warned your customers that your products could get stuck and they might cancel. You may need to perform load tests in the middle or late night hours to avoid disrupting your live website. It is usually a scheduling issue, and people tend to put this off.

You can ensure the reliability of your inventory

Inventory and order management is a potential problem for any company, whether it’s a small mom-and pop website or an online marketplace.

Your inventory and order management will be crucial on Black Friday and Cyber Sunday, no matter what your skill level. Parisotto warns that this is true for any type of spike event.

If you do not have your inventory under control, even a minor hiccup can become a catastrophe on Black Friday. “This can either mean that you oversell a product, leaving your customers empty handed, or that you overcorrect and leave too much product for markdowns on January shelves,” she said.

Parisotto also recommended having an idea about your business’s size during peak sales periods. It will also help you decide what technology you should invest in to support it.

Some people decide to close their physical store and accounts and manage the business from there. Large-scale retailers can’t afford to do that. “They’ll do it more than just transactional inventory systems”, she said.

Try new tactics to drive sales

Third, you need to experiment with marketing in order to prepare for the peak of holiday sales. Parisotto says that marketers must determine which conversions will be the highest. Do you offer free shipping, buy one get one offers, or specific days of the week to generate revenue with your purchase? You need to know the answers ahead of time.

“Retailers need to run tests in September to know what will make money in December — no guessing! She advised, “Be prepared with tools that are specific to your market.”

Parisotto recommended that sales experiments be run using analytics within your CRM platform.

The most common is split testing or A-B testing of the same product — a marketing experiment where you split your audience to test variations on a campaign and determine which performs better. You could, for instance, show one half of your audience version A of an article of marketing content and the other version B.

Know What Works …

Now is the time to get your brands ready for the holidays. Make sure that you are able to meet the needs and interest of consumers before the calendar page reaches the end of the year.

Marketing surveys show that 70% of consumers plan to give apparel as gifts this holiday season, while 51% will gift games and toys. 47% plan to give electronic items, and 40% will be food or beverages.

For 37%, health and beauty products are the gift of choice. Nearly the same number, 36%, of consumers surveyed, said that they would gift jewelry.

What else is there to consider?

Bazaarvoice found that shoppers prefer to shop in stores for their holiday purchases, but by only a slight margin. 81% chose in-store shopping over online shopping and 72% chose social media.

… And What Works Where

Customers want to know about specials in specific places. They include:

  • Advertisements (64%) and marketing emails from brands (46%) are the most popular ways for consumers to learn about Black Friday deals, followed by news articles and gift guide (42%) and social media (46%) and email marketing from brands.
  • Reviews are a priority for shoppers no matter where they go shopping: 74% agree that reviews influence their buying decisions during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM). More than half (59%) of shoppers say they make the same decisions when shopping on social media.
  • UGC, or user-generated contents, gives shoppers the confidence they need to make a purchase. 73% of respondents feel more confident when using UGC instead of BFCM hype. And 64% say they trust shopper generated content over brand-provided material like product descriptions and product photos.

Act Now for Holiday Sale Success

Retailers and brands will face a complex marketplace in 2023, which is a challenge that has never been greater.

It doesn’t matter if you are a late planner or not, strategic planning and proactive adaptation is essential. It’s not an option to ignore these changing trends and consumer behavior.

Businesses can navigate the holiday season’s challenges and opportunities by adopting a data-driven, agile approach to inventory management and marketing strategies.

Act now; if you hesitate, you could miss out on opportunities and leave customers unhappy.