How to Build a Unified Omnichannel Strategy for Peak Season

How to Build a Unified Omnichannel Strategy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Insights

October 13, 2016
How to Build a Unified Omnichannel Strategy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

As the 2016 holiday shopping season approaches, retailers must develop a unified omnichannel strategy to meet the surge in demand. After all, the National Retail Federation reports that holiday revenues account for about 30 percent of annual revenue. Many of those sales are driven by online and mobile channels. According to the Adobe Digital Index, shoppers spent $2.7 billion online on Black Friday in 2015, with $905 million of that from mobile devices. On Cyber Monday, consumers spent $3.07 billion online, $799 million from mobile devices. We expect to see those numbers rise this year and, in order to meet this demand, retailers must develop an omnichannel strategy that unifies merchandising, marketing, customer service, fulfillment, and store operations.

Marketing

Today's consumers have many options when making their holiday purchases, so getting them to your site or brick-and-mortar store is the critical first step. Consumers also like deals and promotions, particularly ones that are personalized, so retailers must engage them with targeted marketing campaigns through email, social media, mobile apps, and other methods to get them there in the first place. While this may seem obvious, it's also essential for retailers to make sure that their websites and mobile apps are responsive and secure. If the website is slow or unresponsive, there will undoubtedly be many abandoned shopping carts left in the wake. Further, customers want control and visibility in the fulfillment process, so retailers must make sure their websites or apps integrate seamlessly with third-party logistics and delivery partners through smart APIs.

Inventory Availability

Making sure that inventory is actually available is also essential. Retailers need to be on top of which products are trending so that they can meet demand during peak season. Simply put, if a product is not available on your website or locatable in a brick-and-mortar store through an online search, your customers will go elsewhere. In addition, consumers are increasingly choosing buy online, pickup in store and buy online, return to store options. To meet consumer demand, retailers must have a clear and comprehensive view of inventory across all locations, including fulfillment centers and physical stores. Moreover, you must work in close concert with transportation and logistics providers to ensure that they will both understand your needs and be available to scale up and down accordingly during peak season. Tight integration with warehouse management systems is a critical factor to make this all work.

Staffing

To handle the seasonal spike in holiday sales and returns, retailers must also scale up the staff required to do so. Whether it's adding more employees in packing and distribution facilities, more contact center personnel, or more store associates, retailers must be prepared to train staff as fast and efficiently as possible to handle the increase in demand. Often, it's easiest to do this by hiring a temporary staffing firm. In addition, since today's consumers expect a high level of personalization, retailers need to provide employees with real-time insight into product preferences, purchasing history, and past customer service interactions through analytics tools that are fed data from multiple back-end systems, including CRM and POS platforms.

As the numbers show, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are critical to retailers' bottom lines. Customers are already using multiple channels to research products and make or return purchases in this peak holiday shopping period, and it's essential that retailers establish a unified omnichannel strategy to meet the inevitable yearly spike in activity in an increasingly competitive landscape.

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