Planning Ahead: Maximizing Your Holiday Sales By Minimizing Risk

E-commerce brands and retailers are in preparation overdrive as they gear up for the approaching holidays. The 2017 holiday season saw e-commerce sales exceed $108 billion, and sellers are scrambling to tap into what will certainly be an even bigger shopping frenzy in 2018.

There are a number of things to consider as you develop your strategy for the holiday season. But one of the most important things to keep in mind is what to do when everything goes wrong.

A lack of preparation could result in a temporary loss of sales, and these revenue gaps — however short — during a critical sales period can be devastating to your annual bottom line.

You can’t predict when things won’t go according to plan (like, for example, having your account suspended from a marketplace in the middle of the holiday season). But you can be prepared for the busy season ahead by developing an action plan for your business. Such a plan can help you make the most of your current strategies, avoid potential mishaps and minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances.

Here are a few questions to consider when preparing your action plan:  

Are you limiting your marketplace reach?

Having all of your “eggs in one basket” is a bad strategy for any business. And if something unexpected happens to the marketplace you’re selling on this holiday season — even if only for a few days — the results could be costly.

Listing across multiple channels helps ensure that consumers always have access to the products you’re selling, and that your business can continually produce revenue. In fact, according to a recent survey we conducted with brands and retailers, 90% of sellers list their products on more than one marketplace and 25% list on six or more.

Are you spending too much time managing listings?

Each marketplace takes a different approach to how you list and manage products, and managing hundreds (or thousands) of products on multiple marketplaces can be extremely time consuming. It can also become problematic if the employee who manages the listings becomes sick, or quits, in the middle of your busiest season. Or even if the manual processes cause you or your team to take your eye of other, pressing matters.

Automation never takes a sick day. Using an e-commerce solution to automate inventory management can help free up some of your time, so you can focus on the more important aspects of your business, such as providing customer service, creating real-time promotions and managing potential fulfillment issues.

Are you taking steps to prevent overselling?

Cancelling orders because you ran out of inventory can lead to poor customer experiences, bad reviews and even having your account suspended by a marketplace. Overselling can be avoided by introducing a systematic approach to how you manage inventory and ensuring that you have the inventory level necessary to meet demand.

Using a single, unified e-commerce solution to efficiently manage your inventory across multiple channels, while keeping your inventory data current and accurate, can help boost visibility for your products, ensure a positive customer experience and keep your account in good standing.  

Do you have the infrastructure in place to deliver a seamless fulfillment process?

Fulfillment is one of the most important aspects of the buying process. Marketplaces want you to ship your orders quickly, and consumers want their packages even quicker. So how are you meeting the demands of both the marketplace and the consumer? Consumers want to interact with sellers that are able to offer fast, cheap shipping options.

Leveraging technology to maintain seamless communication between your logistics partners, marketplaces and consumers can make the buying process much easier and give your business some much-needed logistical stability.

The e-commerce industry is in a constant state of growth and evolution, and surprises are always right around the corner. But having a proactive plan to follow will help you avoid potential pitfalls, maintain operational readiness and continue to thrive this holiday season and beyond.

Want more holiday preparation tips? Check out our five-part Holiday E-Commerce Strategy Series, available on-demand.

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