The busiest shopping season of the year is creeping up quickly as a business owner, you definitely need to start planning NOW!
Here at the Reedbut Group, we’ve compiled 10 Steps to help you to prepare for the busiest shopping season ahead. Whether you’re an e-Commerce, a retail shop, a supplier or, a direct to consumer enterprise, there’s no time like the present to get ready!
1. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
We all know the mantra: “you’ve got to have a plan” and there are plenty of times that a curve ball will come hurtling in and destroy your work. Being well prepared (with contingencies) will enable you and your whole team to conquer most challenges.
Whether you’re B2B or, B2C, it’s tough out there! Everyone is suffering with significant rising costs in the supply chain.
Getting prepared now will help you work efficiently and better manage costs. We recommend identifying all the vital touch points on your supply chain; from raw materials to final product, distribution, packaging – both inner and outer. Make a note of the lead times for each and then find out if placing your order early will secure you a better price and, whether prices increase for emergency last minute orders.
Once you have all of this data at your fingertips, prepare a short calendar with all the major shopping key dates marked up. Then add the supply chain lead times (colour coded) and you’ll have a one page visual of when you need to start ordering.
Forecasting is key, and even though technology has contributed to predicting more accurate figures, and there’s no accounting for the impact of a world pandemic, the war in Ukraine, political influences, climate change and confidence in consumer spending. The most recent report from the BRC stated that both retail and online shopping continue to move in reverse with total sales for the latter down 9%. Non-food purchases related to the home such as furniture, home appliances and computing, suffered the biggest falls in online spending.
All of these factors need to be taken into account plus the impact driven by marketing campaigns and lead generation. Talk to colleagues, networking groups, on line forums and, keep an eye out for competitor activity too and how they’re behaving with their marketing messages and promotion of key dates and product lines.
3. Respect those Lead Times
Walking the fine line between protecting margins and further denting consumer confidence by passing on price rises is something everyone in B2B, B2C and D2C needs to consider. Don’t be caught short and end up ordering last minute; emergency jobs can be delivered but at significant cost to you and where will that be absorbed?
Using your suppliers’ services can help with this balancing act for example Stock & Serve means you can order your corrugated packaging requirements now and then pull down on them as you need them. This is a really helpful service when cash flow is restricted too. Most items can utilise this facility: Storage Industrial & Protective Letter box size Shelf Ready Pallet packs
5. Make Sure the Holiday Matches the Brochure!
This is a vital point between your operations teams and marketing/sales/communication. Can the products you sell live up to the promises that are being communicated on your website, social media and all other platforms of marketing and communication? For example:
An eCommerce box is manufactured from FSC sourced products but needs plastic tape to secure it. However, it’s being sold and promoted as a fully sustainable product! If you’re a business selling sustainable items, this will be an issue!
6. Make Sure your Website Site is Fully Mobile Compliant!
This is the busiest shopping period and the ecommerce sector will experience an increase in visits of anything from 5.4% and upwards! Imagine if your marketplace platform or a website isn’t prepared for this increased traffic and fails to work! Make sure you check now and, conduct tests to ensure excellent user experience.
Many of today’s users shop on their mobile phones, so ensuring that everything on your site works the same on both desktop and mobile is more than crucial. Imagine how unfortunate it would be if you invest your time and money in creating promotions and campaigns, and a tiny system interference causes you to lose buyers and money!
The user experience needs to be as easy as possible for your customers. They want to buy and not have to deal with tech issues. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, they’re going to move on elsewhere; don’t give them that option!
7. Get Social
Social media is a great tool for your business year-round, but it’s especially great around this season. The usual platforms like Facebook and Instagram give your business a free and wide-reaching tool to connect with customers. Pinterest is very visual and you can show case your products with links to your site. If you’re looking to reach a younger demographic, familiarise yourself with the power of Tik-Tok and Snapchat.
Paid for advertising will push your product and brand further, just remember to make sure you’re staying active and consistently posting new content.
From design to hashtags and promotions, social media needs to be the first step to start your communications about the key dates within this period. For example, Christmas themed posts, articles, and photos are trendy, and images of your teams wearing a festive fascinator or jumper will spread joy and show a happy thoughtful business. Both of these can help you to reach a broader audience.
Hashtags are a handy tool to expand your client base, so pick the right ones that would not only mention this period ie #cybermonday but also represent your business and service #handmadewithlove. You can also use social media for advertising special promotions and providing Christmas cheer to your online community.
8. Create an Advertising Campaign
Shoppers only buy from the online/high street shops they know about; fact! That’s why advertising is so important. For shoppers to purchase from you, they need to be aware of your brand. You can build brand awareness by creating an advertising campaign and spreading the word about your business. Focus on promoting a single product, a special deal, or your brand as a whole.
The best way to spread the word pre and during this busy season is by advertising with both digital and print media. With this mix of media, you’ll reach more eyes in a shorter amount of time.
Promotions are one of the best ways to get shoppers excited about purchasing. To encourage shoppers to buy, create a detailed plan of your sales, discounts and giveaways on the planner we mentioned in Point 1. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. Promote these sales via GDPR compliant email lists, social media and digital advertising over the next couple of months to lead shoppers to your website. Even though it’s summer, plan now and implement any time from the end of August! It’s not too soon to start promoting.
9 .Update Your Information
This may sound basic but before things get busy, make sure you’ve updated your phone number, physical address and email address on your website, social media accounts, and any other listings your business might have. Chances are you’re going to have a few customers trying to get in touch with you over this period.
It’s imperative to ensure you have a solid customer care process for questions, returns, faults, missing deliveries etc. And make sure it works! Your reputation is at stake and keyboard warriors are quick to type their misery and experiences!
10. Involve the Whole Team
Of course, teamwork doesn’t just benefit your business; it can also boost morale and camaraderie, increase job satisfaction and help your team to stretch their abilities and raise their profile.
Empowering a team to own certain key dates within this busy period provides people more opportunities to release their creative ideas and increases their sense of belonging. Don’t forget to share the results, learnings and get them to plan for “next time” can positively motivate them to push the targets.
And that completes our 10 Steps to help you prepare your business for the busiest shopping season!
- Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
- Respect Lead Times
- Optimise your Website
- Does the Holiday match the Brochure?
- Website Mobile Compliant
- Get Social
- Create an Advertising Campaign
- Update Your Information
- Involve the Whole Team