Each year, retail sales over Christmas continue to smash growth records, regularly surpassing budget forecasts and predictions.
It might surprise you, but most of the sales are actually taking place among the billions of online carts that are updated and completed a roughly month before Christmas.
Since 2014, in-store retail sales and foot traffic have incrementally decreased, with department stores taking the biggest hit in the brick and mortar apocalypse.
But to all the retail store owners out there, it’s nothing personal. Most shoppers just prefer to shop online when it’s most convenient for them, after all, shopping online provides a strong value proposition for busy consumers:
Not only does it take more time to shop in-person, consumers are able to shop around for the best deal, and if they’re shopping on Amazon or eBay, they’ll most likely get free and fast shipping to boot.
As a result, majority of the sales made in the peak holiday season occur online and during November.
Last year, the biggest piece of the Christmas sale pie was attributed to online sales, and we’re seeing a consistent drop in the percentage of retail store sales:
Times are unquestionably changing. Consumers have moved online to do their Christmas shopping, but they’re also starting to shop earlier in the year compared to previous years.
So what can retailers do to prepare for increasing demands on eCommerce? Below, we look at what happens when retailers prepare (and when they don’t), as well as how you can prepare your technology stack to be peak season ready.
What Amazon teaches us about being holiday season ready
Holiday sales from Amazon alone have doubled over the last four years with the online giant breaking the record for most items sold ever worldwide. This is mainly due to the introduction of their Amazon Prime service, offering both fast and free shipping, as well as access to Amazon Prime for a small fee in the year.
Not only did they sell the most Kindle and Echo’s in history, but thousands of small and medium sized retailers also had their best sales season ever. Over the last few years, Amazon’s dominated the customer experience space because it offers flexible delivery options, and they’ve honed in on a slick and seamless purchasing experience on their mobile app.
Amazon provides the pinnacle standard that combines both technology and logistics infrastructure to remove all friction in the buyer journey. So what happens if a retailer can’t get their technology and logistics right?
What David Jones teaches us about not being holiday season ready
David Jones Christmas sales have been slumping as more and more shoppers opt to browse online instead of in-store. The department store giant only saw 1% growth in sales over Christmas where the average growth in sales crept up to 2.9% for other retailers.
Although maintaining its position as one of Australia’s most iconic retail institutions, the herringbone lathered seller has struggled to drive traffic in-store while also growing their presence online.
Many critics large department stores for failing to seamlessly integrate their online and offline experiences, but as David Jones is still trying to play catch up, technology greats like Amazon will continue to leave them behind.
So what can we learn about peak season sales when there’s both success and failure?
Start assessing your tech stack before peak season
Cast your mind back to last year at the busiest you got during Christmas and ask yourself:
- Was your customer service handling the additional load effectively?
- Were you able to keep up with the distribution of online orders?
- Were day-to-day activities manageable?
- Were you able to deliver your orders on time?
- Were your customers happy with their shopping and delivery experiences?
If you answered yes to all these, amazing! You should be in tip top shape this holiday season.
But if you’re worried about these questions, or you wholeheartedly laughed out loud about how hard it is to maintain these things during Christmas, then it might be time to replatform before it’s too late.
Luckily, there are a range of solutions like Shippit that are easy to plugin and start using straight away. Here’s what you should look out for before you choose a new technology solution to ease the pain during the holiday season:
It gives you the power of free and fast shipping
Free and fast shipping is often looked at as a mystical ecommerce spirit by many retailers; they know it exists, but they can’t seem to harness its power when they most need it. But it’s really not rocket science. To offer free and fast shipping, you need two critical components:
1). You need access to platform that can optimise courier selection and routes. This is something Shippit does for every order and it saves retailers money with every order because it can select a cheaper courier as long as it can deliver within the required time frame.
2). You need to be able to pick and pack priority orders faster than non-priority orders.
If you’re promising customers free and fast shipping, you need to be able to deliver on time. The best way to do this is by utilising a priority picklist and a pack slip – both of these features are available within Shippit. Once you’ve picked and packed your orders and you’re able to choose the fastest and cheapest courier, you’re well on your way to creating an Amazon-like customer experience.
It gives your customers more flexible delivery options
Not all customers want free and fast shipping, and some are even willing to wait a bit longer to receive their items. This means you’ll need to provide your customers with delivery options they actually want at the checkout. Without trying to toot our own horn, but this access to multi-carrier shipping is another big benefit of using Shippit as your shipping solution.
It helps you bulk print shipping labels
Printing shipping labels is actually one of the most time consuming processes for retailers. You may be surprised by this, but the reason for this is the different label sizes used by each different courier. With Shippit, you can print all your labels in one printer, no matter how many couriers you decide to use.
It notifies your customers when deliveries are delayed
Millions of transactions occur during peak season, so it’s not surprising when things get delayed. Surprisingly, customers are alright if their delivery was delayed a day or two as long as you keep them up to date through the whole process.
It provides support when things do go wrong
Even with the best delivery delay detection software, things happen and sometimes deliveries go missing. If you don’t want to spend most of your Christmas sales time chasing down lost deliveries, then you’ll need a solution that provides delivery support. Shippit offers 24/7 chat and delivery support for all deliveries booked through our platform. You’ll wonder how you got along without it.
It lets you keep on top of your shipping spend
Lastly, just because you’re sales are increasing in peak season doesn’t mean your shipping spend should increase too. You’ll want to track how much you’re spending on shipping during Christmas to see where you’re wasting money and to see where you can reduce costs.
Believe it or not, every single one of these features are available to you in minutes within the Shippit platform.
Are you ready to start gearing up for the sales period? Sign up for a free account now and see if it’s the right solution for you.