Holiday 2023 is approaching fast, and retailers are gearing up to compete for business among shoppers looking for discounts and deals. Insider Intelligence predicts that the 2023 holiday shopping season will grow similarly to 2022 — with overall retail spending rising 4.5% to $1.328 trillion for the 2023 peak season. Shoppers are expected to continue buying, but with a preference for discounts, deals, and promotions — as the July 2023 Amazon Prime Day clearly revealed with a record-setting $12.7 billion in sales, marking 6.1% year-over-year growth.
As retailers compete for customers wallets and loyalty, here are 5 best omnichannel practices that will help attract new customers and keep loyal customers with you:
- Prioritize discounts and promotions across channels. Consumers will be looking for discounts during their holiday shopping; and while major retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart may offer major competitive sales events, other retailers have the opportunity to offer strategic sales and compete for wallet share. Analysis of Amazon Prime Day 2023 shows that the following were average discounts: electronics 14% off, apparel and toys 12% off, home and furniture items 9% off, computer/electronics 8% off; appliances, sporting goods and TVs had an average of 5-7% off their original prices. eCommerce retailers need to be mindful that shoppers are doing price comparisons while shopping and will expect price matching for significant savings. Retailers that take the lead in omnichannel marketing by creating major sales events around popular holiday items may be able to capture more wallet share and drive competitive pricing in the market. An omnichannel marketing strategy with a pricing and promotions plan needs to be consistent across stores, online, and marketplace channels. Make sure to clearly communicate Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and other holiday promotions and deals to all associates and customer care, and that pricing is consistent on every channel. Having a robust order management system can help you coordinate this data.
- Gain real-time inventory visibility. An omnichannel strategy depends on being able to see inventory at all times and to optimize stocking where needed, on the go. This is especially true with store fulfillment options, like BOPIS, which continue to be popular with customers. Last year’s data on peak season inventory may provide some ability to forecast where there will be higher or lower demands for certain inventory; however, a strong omnichannel eCommerce order fulfillment operation will ensure that you can be proactive and move inventory based on early and changing signals, in real-time. Keep in mind that shoppers need inventory visibility, too, across their customer journey. It needs to be accurately synced between your online sites and stores, so that when shoppers are browsing brick-and-mortar, and can’t find the size or color they want, they can go to your mobile app, social media channels, or website and order it on the spot — ensuring you still get the sale. If they cannot find what they want on your sites, they will check competitors’ sites while in your store, and even purchase from your competitors while in your store. It’s important to be able to fulfill orders no matter which channel a shopper chooses to buy from to capture all possible sales.
- Strategically manage fulfillment options to drive sales. While a true omnichannel experience often means having multiple fulfillment options available, it’s okay to be strategic about which products are available for certain fulfillment channels. Retailers that have physical stores will often see increased traffic for new products, categories, or higher-ticket items. Holiday shoppers want to be able to see and touch merchandise, and there’s been a strong post-pandemic return to in-store shopping due to social interaction and customer experience reasons.
That said, online channels and strategic fulfillment options can help drive store traffic. It may be wise to restrict certain products or categories on your eCommerce site from BOPIS or ship-from-store on certain days or times to help encourage store traffic and reserve enough inventory for walk-in shoppers.
- Staff appropriately. Most retailers remain short-staffed and employees are stretched thin. Peak season places a lot of demand on employee time and energy. Staffing appropriately begins with solid data for predictive forecasting. It also depends on having an accurate idea of how much time and people it takes to perform certain duties, like pick, pack, ship an item, or prepping for curbside delivery. This is true for in-store associates and for order fulfillment center employees. Understanding the human labor involved will help you determine how many people need to be present during each shift.
Likewise, if you use automation in your order fulfillment, it’s good to know what volume and velocity robots operate at to help predict peak season volumes and calculate shipping and delivery times.
- Optimize eCommerce fulfillment. The holiday season sees an increase in online shopping, but as shoppers buy across channels they still want a consistent experience. They are depending on your brand to deliver on their customer expectations no matter which channel or fulfillment method they choose. This means making sure that customer experience policies, such as how items are packaged, inserts, gift wrapping, are consistently done whether from a fulfillment center or from ship-from-store.
Careful coordination and contracts with carriers is also necessary, and increased pickup or altered delivery timelines need to be communicated on your website, to associates, and anywhere it will impact the customer experience.
Peak may be the prime season to partner with a fulfillment company like Radial that can lift the coordination, timing, order fulfillment, and contract negotiations with carriers from you — easing the burden on your employees and meeting your peak SLAs.
Implementing omnichannel best practices during the holiday season will improve holiday sales, make managing the holiday rush easier, and deliver a great customer experience.
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