Some of the busiest online shopping peaks – Black Friday and the holiday season – are fast approaching. What should online retailers focus on to ensure they optimize preparation, execution and analysis of peak seasons?
To find out, we gathered together some of Northern Europe’s leading e-commerce experts. Tiina Tuohi, Karri Durchman and Roosa Antila de Haan manage stores that are among the top e-commerce performers in the Nordics. We asked them for their tips on how online stores can meet peak season goals.
1. Keep operations agile
As the last few years have shown, online retailers can’t always be sure of what’s coming. It’s essential that plans can be changed quickly.
This applies to peak seasons too. Keep an eye on emerging trends and media buzz. It may be something you can incorporate into your store’s preparations. Perhaps a specific product has been featured in news or social media recently – make sure said product goes into prime position on your store’s pages.
A vital component of peak season planning is ensuring you can meet customers’ expectations. In concrete terms this means clear communications about delivery times and making certain enough staff are on hand in your warehouses.
Even with meticulous preparation, unexpected curveballs can arise. If things do go south, react in a rapid and transparent manner. For example, perhaps you ordered too little of a limited edition item and those on the waitlist were left out. Let your customers know you’re aware of any unintentional errors and that you’re making amends as fast as possible. This can spread goodwill – and ensure your customers keep coming back.
2. Remember your customers are expecting more than just discounts
Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to offer your customers something of value while building customer loyalty. But it’s not enough for loyalty programs to just rely on general discounts. Today, customers expect to see some level of personalization. This is why digital loyalty programs are great for targeted offers and activating your customers based on data.
Loyalty programs also help you strengthen the customer relationship by fostering a sense of community. Maybe you have a group of customers who are fans of the same brand? Inviting them to an event with a brand representative presenting new products could be an amazing opportunity to engage with those fans.
This type of interactive experience with your store isn’t just about gathering points for a discount. It’s about staging a platform for people with similar interests, building a community around your brand and rewarding their participation.
And don’t forget your less active customers. In fact it’s never been more important to get to know them better. With the third-party cookie phase-out online retailers are more reliant on their own customer data. An effective, personalized loyalty program is a brilliant way to keep all your customers engaged.
3. Don’t limit measuring to sales alone
There’s a lot of metrics to consider when preparing to measure your store’s peak season performance. Naturally sales KPIs come top of that list. We’re talking number of visitors, average purchase, conversion increase – the usual suspects. You’ll probably also want to track the number of new customers and the number of returning customers, and how your average delivery times have fared.
After the rush of peak season is over it’s definitely worth taking the time to expand your analysis and look into other metrics as well. For a good post-game analysis, you may want to consider measuring how your stock optimization went or how many seasonal products remain unsold. This type of insight is invaluable in preparing for future peak seasons and can ensure you’re in an even better position next year.
Looking for more peak season inspiration?
See our 8 quick ways to crush your online sales targets this Black Friday and tips on harnessing the power of social proof and user-generated content during holiday season.