Will inflation slow down holiday shopping this season?
Reports of Fed raising interest rates to slow down inflation and avoid the economy from slipping to a recession may do little to stop people from spending online during this holiday season – what it could do however, is push people to look for better deals and promotions. With back-to-school shopping season behind us driving foot traffic to the stores, shoppers are making fewer trips to the stores. These shoppers are spending less, opt to wait for sale-days, or go for lesser-known or private label brands to ease the burden of spending on discretionary items.
And as the world resumes to be pre-pandemic levels of normalcy in their daily lives, there are and will be a few pandemic-driven habits which will remain sticky – ex. Curb side pick-up, Buy Online Pick up in store, and importantly mobile wallets.
Technology is an enabler. As digital transformation continues, strategies must evolve.
To come out on top and have a successful holiday season, Retailers need to prepare the right strategies, and ensure their technology systems are setup to deliver optimal performance to achieve their goals. Brands and Retailer need to evaluate if they are still facing pressure on their supply chain with limited inventories and shipping delays, and if so, plans should be adjusted to meet the demands and the rising costs of shipping.
The question to ask yourself – “do we go for sales growth or maintain a healthy profit margin?”
Our team has put together a few steps and guidelines to guarantee a strong holiday season:
Start planning early Holiday marketing and promotions
- Give your teams ample time to prepare and get content ready by planning ahead
- Keep personalization top of mind when creating promotional strategies
- Create a mini project plan with key tasks, dates and owners
- Inform the teams to prepare the content and imagery
- Inform the merchandising team to prepare for expected volume to ensure adequate inventory across all channels
- Get all visual assets and photoshoots, graphic design before the web campaigns, email and in-store campaigns and product launches
- Align with digital marketing for holiday spend on external marketing
Prepare for holiday demand and traffic volume
- Site reliability – code profiling and testing prior to the holiday week to handle large volumes of incoming traffic and order volume; validate and test all 3rd party integrations and look for potential hot spots.
- Work with your eCDN provider for traffic management and security; check SSL certificates for expiration during the holidays, or at the beginning of the new year.
- Ensure downstream systems & key 3rd party applications can support and handle large volumes of traffic
- Review and revisit your bot management solution
- Inventory – appropriate stock levels maintained across categories that will be part of holiday deals & promotions
- Leverage safety stock capabilities provided by your platform systems to avoid over-selling and order cancellations
A hassle-free, friction-less shopping experience
- Validate optimal site experience across all device types, most importantly on mobile
- Upload product catalog data and pricing for all new items at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance of the main holiday promotion
- Personalize the experience across the journey for shoppers or by customer segments
- Review and update keyword searches to avoid “no search results” pages
- Ensure checkout flow is as frictionless as possible; turn on Abandoned Cart email notifications
- Provide gift wrap and gift messaging options
- Turn off Buyer’s remorse period to avoid inventory discrepancies between Website and OMS for the holiday season
Delight shoppers with multiple shipping and fulfillment options
- Enable BOPIS for the holiday season, but turn off BOPIS during peak in-store days
- Turn off SFS during peak in-store traffic days to allow associates to focus on customer experience in-store, avoid inventory issues and order delays.
- Enable quick delivery options with support for SMS notifications on order status and order tracking to reduce call volume to CS
- Update shipping windows and store hours on the site for the holiday season
- Add festive touches to packaging and unboxing experience
Site Monitoring & Severity Issue Handling
- During a Severity event, time is of the essence!
- In case of a potential severity event, make sure all involved parties truly understand Severity level definitions since in some cases after hour emergency surcharges may apply whether an issue is deemed a Severity Level 1 issue or not
- Establish an emergency contact list of client team members and agency partners in case of severity incident occurrence
- Have a contact list handy of key third party ISV contacts since typically severity incidents involve or are caused by third party activities
- Implement a freeze on new feature deployments to the live website, typically from the beginning of November through the end of the year. Development in testing environments should continue so it is ready for release in Q1, but new functionality added during this peak season adds risk when ordering should be at its peak.
- Review and resolve error logs ahead of such a freeze, so that those occurring on the website during normal traffic do not exponentially increase as traffic does.
- Test that the loss of critical functionality (i.e., individual payment gateways, tax and address validation services) does not impact the entire experience but instead fails gracefully to allow purchases to complete through other avenues
- Verify ahead of time you have access to platform provider trouble ticketing system
Customer service and support
- Update customer service contact information on the site for holiday season
- Update & display return policy messaging for extended return windows
- Turn on LIVE chat to allow agents to serve more customers
- Staff up on agents and associates to handle increase call volume and inquiries
- Update store information on the site for extended store hours during the holiday season
2022 holiday season will get customers to spend more online than ever. It pays to plan ahead and have the right strategies and operations in place to ensure your customers have the best experience that you can deliver. And, as you look over this list, we hope it helps to assess your readiness in the coming weeks —and for holidays in years ahead.
Fenom Digital delivers exceptional services across Salesforce Commerce, Order Management, Service and Marketing Cloud solutions.
A leading Salesforce digital agency, Fenom provides comprehensive digital solutions that transform the 360? customer journey focusing on improved commerce digital experiences and supply chain optimization.
Please get in touch with us on how Fenom’s global team of skilled experts can help you towards a successful holiday season for this year and years to come.
Few Helpful Links:
Salesforce B2C Commerce – Get Holiday Ready