What will the holidays look like this year? Given supply chain issues and lingering COVID concerns, it’s only wise to make some extra preparations and conduct more research to prepare a solid holiday sales strategy and keep everything running smoothly.
Learn Lessons from Last Year
You’d be forgiven for thinking that 2020 was an anomalous year for holiday sales data. ECommerce sales soared last year with $10.8 billion spent online on Cyber Monday and $9 billion on Black Friday in the US alone. But with stores re-opened and more relaxed covid precautions, should we expect a shift to in-store spending in 2021?
Not according to Statista, who predicts a 10% growth of services such as Buy Online Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup compared to 2020. Data from the Adobe Digital Economy Index also suggests that this years’ holidays are set to break new records for online spending, reaching $910 billion worldwide in the holiday season, a rise of 11% from the previous year.
With all this in mind, it’s generally safe to assume that your sales data for the 2020 holiday season will be relevant to your sales strategy for 2021.
Not everything, however, can be learned from past years. This year’s labour shortages, a strained trucking industry and blocked ports are all predicted to exacerbate during the holiday buying season.
Consumers have quickly come to expect next-day delivery, meaning that there’s now very little flexibility in an already overstretched supply chain. So what can you do?
Preparing Your 2021 Holiday Sales Strategy
Prepare your inventory
Determining your inventory and deciding what you want to promote is the first step to a successful holiday sales strategy. Don’t just take into account your best-sellers, consider the products that people are raving about online, or the products with the best profit margin. Consider whether you could have more success promoting more profitable products, and seize the opportunity to boost your brand health by pushing the products with the highest customer satisfaction.
Volume is particularly important this year. Estimate how much inventory you’ll need to avoid disappointment based on last year’s sales data.
Create a marketing plan
Use online data analytics from your marketing channels (Facebook ads manager, Google analytics, etc) to determine which drove the most traffic and conversions to your business over the 2020 holiday period.
Forecast the amount of traffic needed to hit your revenue goals to optimise your per-customer spending on each channel.
Don’t underestimate the power of social. In a survey conducted by Facebook, eight in ten respondents said they used at least one Facebook service or app to find gifts during the 2020 holiday season.
A quarter to a third of all holiday purchases are returned. How do your statistics from last year compare? A certain number of returns is unavoidable, you can never completely prevent duplicate gifts, for example, but how can you reduce the number of returns or increase exchanges?
The way you manage customer service during the returns process will have an impact on customer sentiment and ultimately the lifetime value of the customer.
Manage expectations and improve communication
As well as marketing products, this year it’s also wise to use your communication channels to manage expectations and keep consumers satisfied at a time when order fulfilment is particularly challenging.
Unfortunately, much of the supply chain crisis is out of your hands. No matter how much consumers have come to expect near-instant order fulfilment, it simply won’t be possible in many instances. However, a smooth and painless transaction is ultimately more important than instantaneous gratification.
That means not making unrealistic promises. It means having a clear channel of communication between your logistics departments (or third party logistics provider) and your customer.
News media channels are encouraging shoppers to begin early this year to avoid disappointment. Distributing the load will also help alleviate some of the strain on your supply chain. Encourage your customers to start shopping early via your marketing channels, just make sure that you use the appropriate messaging so as not to appear forceful or spammy.
Use Symanto technologies with CRM data to segment your audience based on personality traits and communication styles, and customise your messaging accordingly. Using a combination of natural language processing and machine learning, Symanto can identify whether a person is emotionally or rationally driven, whether they prefer to communicate through facts or experiences. This information can help you perfect your email messaging and improve click-through and conversion rates.
Prepare customer service
It’s the busiest, most stressful time of the year for retailers, and any bumps in the road head directly to your front line: the customer service team. Make sure they feel as prepared and supported as possible. Customer service is regularly featured as a key topic in online reviews and on social media and can have a significant impact on customer sentiment.
Use Symanto technology with CRM data to prioritise customer service tickets with strong negative sentiment and negative emotions so that your customer service team can catch the most urgent issues first.
Symanto’s APIs can also arrange customer service issues by topic so that they can get directed immediately to the relevant department.
Chatbots are also an important feature helping to alleviate the pressure on customer service. Symanto’s NLP technology can be used to create empathetic chatbots to automate customer service, and not infuriate the customer in the process.