3 ways preparation will help your e-store thrive this Xmas

Traditional retail stores might be packed to the brim on December 23rd, but online stores are empty. Christmas comes early for e-stores, and it’s absolutely time to get into gear for one of the biggest online seasons of the year. September marks the beginning of the climb, peaking in November as the holiday season culminates in sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The last quarter of the year can make up almost half of online retailers’ annual revenue, so it pays to be prepared.

The last thing you want is to be caught out when people are hungry for your product. Here are three ways to stay ahead, and to get some serious value from the hottest season of the year:

1. Keep good relations with your wholesalers.

This is the time of year to have your wholesaler on the weekly or fortnightly call rotation. Check-in with them on stock levels; particularly for your best-selling items. If they’re running low or are backed up on orders, ship in a few more of your store favourites and hold them yourself. That way, if there’s an issue with your supplier, there is still a chance to get the product to your customer in a timely fashion.

2. Know your backup plan (and the maths) in advance.

If there is a real crisis with your supplier, it can still be worthwhile to get your customers what they’ve ordered. Rather than frantically searching for overnight or two-day shipping, do your research in advance. Find another online store to be your back-up so that your customers don’t have to walk away empty-handed and do it themselves. It may be unavoidable to take a loss when your drop-shipper fails, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about it. At the end of the day, coming through for the customer—even when the odds are against you—can be a great way to earn a reputation for reliability in the industry.

3. Make shipping and returns easier than ever.

 The holiday season brings not only more sales, but bigger sales. Keeping this in mind, you might want to offer some enticements to capitalise. Many major online retailers have seen real success by creating seasonal returns and shipping policies. Free shipping during the holiday season might sound like a thankless sacrifice, but the difference it can make to your customers’ purchase decision can be immense. Basket spends rise significantly with free shipping, and we all know that shipping costs can be a massive hurdle en route to purchase, especially for Australia online shoppers.

The other major factor people start to consider around the holiday season, is your returns policy. With the huge range of products on offer in every industry, now – combined with the unique tastes of family members and friends—it’s almost expected someone will give or receive the ‘wrong’ gift. An unclear or complicated returns policy is one of the leading reasons for online shoppers to walk away. During the holidays, they just want to read ‘Money-back guaranteed, no questions asked’. However, as close you can viably get to that end will be your best policy strategy this holiday season. “This is how long we can return your item for, these are the reasons we can offer you a refund.”

So are you ready to get ready?

Best get your skates on as it’s not just you gearing up. Your competitors are just as hungry for their share of the action and they’ll be doing what they can to make the most of the season. By offering your customers reliable delivery with streamlined processes, you motivate them to give generously this year, so time to get started!

If you’d like to chat about how to best gear up for the holiday season, we’d be delighted to hear from you. You can call us on +61 2 9828 0111 (Sydney), +61 3 9240 6300 (Melbourne) or +64 9 263 8855 (Auckland). Or drop us a note via the form below.

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