Happier Holidays For Your Customers: Holiday Checklist For Retailers

It may seem premature to discuss holiday preparation. However, retailers who have survived previous holiday seasons know that it’s never too early to prepare for the busiest time of the year. Strategic planning is crucial for the holidays, considering that the holiday season represents as much as 30 percent of annual sales for many retailers.

It goes without saying that the holidays are a hectic time for retailers and consumers alike. Therefore, not only do retailers need to prep early to avoid negative shopping experiences, but it’s of utmost importance that merchants go the extra mile to please their customers. To ensure a superior shopping experience, review this holiday checklist and make sure you have the proper systems in place so you can sled through the holiday season with ease.

1. Are you able to provide a consistent shopping journey across all channels?
Today, it’s not uncommon for customers to shop for an item across multiple channels – whether it be in store, on an ecommerce site, or a popular marketplace like Amazon. For this reason, the lack of consistent data and information across channels can make or break a sale. It can be frustrating for shoppers to find an item of a certain size or price in store, only to discover that it’s unavailable or listed at a different price online.

Inventory management and product information management solutions can help retailers organize product information and automatically push the data out to all of their sales channels, to provide their customers with consistent product information and real-time product availability regardless of where they shop.

2. Can you provide quick and convenient fulfillment options?
For many shoppers, it’s convenient to browse and compare products online, and then purchase or pick up the item in-store when running holiday errands. Other shoppers may prefer to avoid stores completely during the holiday season and have the item shipped to their home next-day so they can get it wrapped and under the tree in time.

Either scenario requires flexible fulfillment methods. An order management system provides complete inventory and supply chain visibility, along with order logic capabilities. These tools allow retailers to identify if the product is available in-store for pickup or in-stock and ready to be shipped from a nearby store or warehouse for quick delivery.

While it’s important for fulfillment to be fast, it also needs to be accurate. A study says that over 35 percent of customers will abandon their relationship with a retailer if even one item is fulfilled incorrectly.

3. Is your inventory in check?
Inventory availability is a must this time of year. Nothing is more aggravating than when a customer is trying to finish last minute holiday shopping, only to find the item they’re looking for is out of stock.

An inventory management system can help retailers forecast sales and the inventory that is necessary to fulfill orders. An inventory management system also updates orders and inventory levels across all channels in real-time, preventing stock-outs and the wrath of holiday-crazed customers.

4. Is your ecommerce site …

a) Equipped to handle high levels of traffic?
This year, industry experts expect ecommerce holiday sales to increase over 15 percent. Prepare for a surge in traffic by testing your site to ensure it can handle the uptick in visitors and order volume.

b) Optimized for mobile shoppers?
Make sure your site is mobile friendly for shoppers on the go. In 2016, 41 percent of online visits and 21 percent of sales were from smartphones alone – that’s a big percentage of shoppers you don’t want to miss out on.

c) SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) allows customers to find your website and products with ease. Competition is high – especially during the holiday season. SEO allows you to better compete for the top search engine listings, ultimately increasing site views and sales.

d) Optimized for convenient shopping and quick checkout?
Are your products organized properly? Using a product information management system can help you organize your product listings by allowing you to easily create product attributes and descriptions to make searching for specific items quick and easy. Utilizing product attributions and additional product fields can also help increase product rankings on marketplace searches.

Additionally, make sure your checkout process is quick and secure. Fraud has increased 33 percent in the past year, so take action to protect your business and your customers! With an increase in ecommerce sales during the holiday season, it is particularly important for retailers to make sure they have fraud detection rules in place. Order management systems are equipped with fraud detection tools, giving them increased visibility and control to prevent fraud orders and security breaches.

5. Do you have processes in place to handle reverse logistics?
You’ve made it through the holiday madness. Unfortunately, however, this means processing endless returns and exchanges. This process can be inconvenient for customers too – especially if return policies are unclear, the merchant only accepts in-store returns, or a re-stocking fee is required.

Review your return policy ahead of the holidays, and make sure it’s easy for your customers to find. With advanced order logic capabilities, order management systems can facilitate seamless returns regardless of the channel they were fulfilled from or returned to. Once the item is received, the system will update your inventory to reflect the return or exchange. Rate shop tools can also help merchants find the lowest shipping costs for returns, allowing customers to ship the order back for free.

The holidays present (no pun intended) a great opportunity for retailers to win new customers, so it’s vital to prepare your sleds for a smooth ride through the holiday season now. SalesWarp can help merchants optimize all areas of order processing, inventory management, fulfillment, shipping, customer service, accounting, and more. No need to worry about servers crashing when you need them most. SalesWarp guarantees 24/7 uptime – even on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – so retailers can be at ease knowing their customers’ orders will be delivered to the right chimney, at the right time, at the lowest cost.

Get the necessary systems in place for a successful holiday season. Call SalesWarp and speak to one of our experts and see how we can help.