Every part of your ecommerce business is going to experience an influx of some kind or another during the holidays. Your website will see more traffic. Your customer service representatives will field more phone calls. And your packing and shipping area will process more orders.
With the pandemic starting to ease and Peak season just around the corner, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your planning. To keep ups with the demand this holiday season follow our helpful tips.
How Have Buyer Behaviours Changed Since COVID-19?
We surveyed 500 online shoppers across the United Kingdom, and over 2,000 around the world, to better understand how COVID-19 has shaped ecommerce buyer behaviours. Here’s what we found:
- Online spending is on the rise, with 42% of consumers expecting to spend more in 2021 than they did in 2020.
- 65% of consumers say they plan to shop online vs. in-store even after the pandemic ends.
- 39% expect retailers to offer free shipping indefinitely after the pandemic.
- 72% of consumers say they expect retail stores to offer click and collect delivery options indefinitely.
- The majority expect retailers to offer extended return windows due to potential shipping delays.
As we can see, consumer expectations are now higher than ever. And people are itching to spend the extra cash they’ve saved – with some calling it ‘revenge shopping’, where consumers are making up for lost time and purchasing opportunities during the pandemic.
Are You Ready for Peak Season 2021?
In ShipStation’s survey, 85% of consumers stated that they want full visibility into expected shipping timelines before making a purchase. This will especially apply during Peak season.
It’s vital to ensure that during the busiest shopping period of the year, real-time shipping rates and accurate delivery timelines are available at checkout. This means you need access to tools that give you the flexibility to:
- Adapt to every order
- Ensure smooth fulfilment
- Deliver on time
- Manage returns quickly
The Holidays Impact on Shipping
Online sellers and retailers should also be working with carrier partners to predict the likely impact on shipping to ensure that access to staff, transportation and sortation capacity is in place.
If resources during Peak season are likely to be stretched, now is the time to think about adding new carriers so shipping times are as short as possible.
The same applies to stock management. Supply chains are still under strain from pandemic-related challenges, and this is likely to extend into the Peak season. Ecommerce merchants can build inventory over the next few months in preparation for demand, moving away from a just-in-time approach to holding additional stock that will ensure they can satisfy customer orders.
Using Peak to Shape Customer Preferences for the New Year and Beyond
Peak can be used to shape customer preferences for the New Year, and help retailers prepare for the future.
As Christmas approaches, purchases are often urgent. Customers who usually wait a few days to secure a free delivery are more likely to opt for same-day or next-day shipping during Peak. And, this could lay the groundwork for a long-term change in behaviour if consumers have a good experience.
Retailers need to make sure customer service teams are aware of issues that might arise. By training teams over the late summer months across a range of scenarios, ecommerce merchants can provide them with the confidence and ability to deal quickly and efficiently with queries and complaints.
Marketing needs to be prepared too. Peak is potentially the most lucrative time of the year for ecommerce websites, and social channel traffic and engagement. The pressure is on to ensure websites are up to standard with well-planned content and responsive pages that create a memorable journey for every visitor.
Retailers can also consider boosting attention by gamifying promotions and adding personalisation, but most important of all, make sure everything is accessible across all channels and all devices.
Why Focus on Sustainability
Sustainability is an important concern for consumers and retailers alike. And with the rush to prepare for Peak, retailers cannot forget about this in the products they sell, the packaging they use and their options for low carbon deliveries. Responsible planning for Peak means making a conscious effort to reduce impact on the planet.
To find out more about how you can ensure sustainability in ecommerce, download our free ebook.
Your holiday strategies directly impact customer satisfaction and their decision to purchase again in the future. While 2020 presented many challenges for both consumers and merchants, this holiday season is sure to bring more demand and put additional strain on the supply chain. Be sure to make sure you everything you need to have a successful holiday season with ShipStation.