Holiday Preparation Part 5: Dominating the Holidays in 2018

Well, this is it. We’ve reached the final stages of our Holiday E-Commerce Strategy Series.

So far, we’ve covered the most critical topics all sellers should be addressing as we head into Q4:

Now, there are just a couple questions left to address:

What’s currently happening across e-commerce, and what specific steps should you take RIGHT NOW to prepare for the coming holidays?

In our series finale, ChannelAdvisor’s co-founder and CEO tie it all together. You can get the full depth of insights from Scot Wingo and David Spitz — two of THE most knowledgeable experts on e-commerce trends — in the on-demand recording. In the meantime, here’s a quick recap of their top suggestions.

4 Trends All Sellers Should Be Prepared for in Q4 2018

As you prep your marketing, selling and fulfilling activities for the upcoming holiday months, keep these four trends at the top of your “must address” list:

1. Earlier-Than-Ever Promotions

Last season, many in the industry were caught by surprise when Amazon opened its Black Friday store on November 1. Similar surprises may well be in store for the coming Q4. Seasonal promotions will no doubt continue to appear earlier and with more frequency as online retailers seek to get their goods in front of holiday shoppers.

If you don’t want to be caught off guard, start preparing your promotions now. The earlier you’re ready to start rolling out deals and offers, the better prepared you’ll be to compete throughout the season.

2. Mobile-First Shopping

Mobile shopping really took the holiday season by storm last year — both in terms of traffic and transactions. Consumers made more purchases from their smartphones than ever before, ushering in a new era for e-commerce where mobile plays a starring role.

Yet many online sellers are yet to fully optimize their shopping experiences for smartphones. If you haven’t done so already, take time this month to ensure your product listings are truly mobile-ready.

3. Amazon- and Google-Dominated Browsing

Though it may sound extreme, we believe any seller that doesn’t have a clearly defined Amazon strategy is practically guaranteed to lose market share this season. With a robust mobile app, vast array of both first- and third-party sellers and more than 100 million Prime members, it’s no surprise that Amazon is the first stop for more than half of consumers when they search for products.

One surefire way to get ahead is by making the most of Amazon Advertising. It’s not at all uncommon for the entire first page of search results to be populated by ads. If your products aren’t appearing in those prime spots, there’s a high likelihood you’ll lose sales to competitors. In one analysis of ChannelAdvisor’s database we found that sellers advertising on Amazon tend to grow two to three times faster than those that don’t.

Additionally, we believe strongly that Google Shopping Actions is going to play a MAJOR role in transactions this season. Nearly every retailer should adopt Google’s new transactions platform as soon as possible.

4. Uncertain Fulfillment Capacities

With more and more holiday shopping transactions taking place online, the load is getting heavier than ever for carriers. On the one hand, we’ve watched the per-square-foot price for industrial real estate surpass that of retail — a reflection of necessary increases in warehousing and fulfillment.

But if last year’s fulfillment was any indication, even the most advanced delivery companies still face significant challenges when it comes to keeping up with demand. As e-commerce continues to grow at a rapid pace, online orders appear to be outpacing year-over-year growth in carrier capacity.

Thankfully, one of the best things you can do to prepare is incredibly simple: Talk to your fulfillment provider about their plans for the upcoming holidays. Then build a contingency plan to handle potential delays and increases in costs. Keep in mind, too, that the earlier you can encourage holiday purchases (see #1 above), the better equipped you’ll be to provide fast, free shipping.

Get More Holiday Insights in the On-Demand Recording: Full Series Now Available

The above takeaways are just a handful of the numerous insights Wingo and Spitz shared in their annual holiday preparation webinar. To be as prepared as possible, we strongly recommend reviewing the slides and listening to the full session here. In it, you’ll get details on their full checklist of preparation steps to tackle in advance of Q4, including:

  • Maintaining operational excellence
  • Preparing the right amount of stock
  • Avoiding shipping snafus
  • Getting started with AMS and Google Shopping Actions
  • Using data to your advantage for pricing and inventory predictions
  • And more!

Full series now available for on-demand viewing: We have been truly blown away by the response to our inaugural Holiday E-Commerce Strategy Series. In addition to last week’s session with Wingo and Spitz, we’ve heard from top e-commerce experts including Google’s shopping partnerships lead and FedEx’s supply chain specialist. You can watch the entire five-part series at your convenience. But don’t delay! Many other sellers are already getting started on these recommendations to get firmly ahead of the coming season.

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