By: Aaron Rubin, Founder & CEO of ShipHero
It’s hard to look at the 2021 holiday season without seeing the cloud cast over it by COVID. While there had been some hope just a few months ago that life might go back to “normal” by this holiday, the chances are there will still be daily challenges to living a normal life.
This means your customers are going to keep many of the shopping habits they adopted in 2020. Taking those lessons (read our blog about this topic HERE) into 2021 has given eCommerce retailers a solid framework for how to think about Black Friday Cyber Monday and the holiday season in general when it comes to planning and preparing.
However, what are five concrete things you can do to incorporate recent changes and capitalize on them? Let’s review some tactics you can make into actionable goals to help propel your holiday 2021 sales upward.
Preparing for the Holiday Season
Aside from the regular prepping you would do for the holidays (hiring more employees, ordering more packing materials, checking for carrier surcharges, etc.), here are five ways you can specifically prepare that you might not have thought of.
Maximize your Social Channels
People use their mobile devices to not only shop for themselves, but to browse for gifts for friends and family. According to a study done by AdWeek, 45% of holiday shoppers last season stated that they discovered a product or gift via social media. Also, it is estimated that social eCommerce will account for 11% of all retail eCommerce next year, which adds up to $474 million.
Obviously, with numbers like these, it’s easy to see how your social channels can be lucrative. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence in regards to retargeting, keyword research and creative. If there was ever a time during the year to take extra steps with your social media strategy, it’s definitely the next 4-5 months. You also have enough time to do some testing of keywords and retargeting in August and September, before you commit your full holiday social media spend.
Build Brand Awareness
It’s estimated that when shoppers begin their shopping search online, only about 4% of them are actually ready to buy. And in 2019 online shopping cart abandonment was measured at almost 70%. This means that remarketing and following up on abandoned carts could become a key holiday season strategy.
Being top-of-mind is the quickest way for customers to discover you. You’ll want to run brand awareness campaigns starting as soon as possible (which can also tie into your social media strategy) and keep those ads running through Q4. Following up with these same shoppers if they leave behind full, but abandoned shopping carts is another key strategy. And you don’t necessarily have to send a discount code to entice them to finish their purchase. Sometimes, just a friendly “you forgot to check out” will net you the sale.
Plan for Earlier and Longer Promotions
Last year, more than 40% of shoppers stated that they started shopping earlier for the holidays than the year before. So far, there’s been no evidence to contradict this behavior. Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) has even expanded to Cyber 5 to include Thanksgiving as one of the main holiday shopping mainstays.
Early shoppers will be looking for helpful tools like gift guides, promotional offers and personalized recommendations very soon. Start working on this content now and make sure your team is aligned on timing and goals.
On the flip side of this coin is the management of your returns process. Make sure that you have a strong and easy-to-understand returns policy and that it is well-communicated before, during and after purchase, especially if you have different policies for items purchased on sale or promotion.
Expand Your Payment Options
A proliferation of “buy now, pay later” payment vendors have flooded the market in the past 18-24 months. If you haven’t yet partnered with one of these vendors, it might be time to do so. Even Apple Pay recently entered the mix with their Apple Pay Later functionality. It’s also been shown that having a diverse range of payment options lowers cart abandonment. Find out how feasible it would be to expand your payment options on your site.
Address Supply Chain Strain Early
Take a look at your big sellers for this year, as well as predictions for holiday 2021, and talk to suppliers now about stocking up on these products. Remember that supply chain issues are still plaguing the industry. Also, examine ways that you can leverage your warehouses and in-store inventories to fill orders faster even as people start shopping earlier and earlier.
You more than likely have been speaking with your suppliers throughout this unprecedented time, but it might be a good idea to spend a few extra minutes getting a feel for what they are experiencing in their day-to-day business. Having as much information and forewarning as you can will go a long way toward making you more prepared.
The Holidays Don’t Stop for Anybody
While death and taxes are a fact of life, so is the holiday season. Make sure you’re leveraging all of your institutional knowledge, past experiences and eCommerce expertise to prepare – maybe even over prepare – for the holidays. Follow these steps and you’ll be on the road to more eCommerce success.
Schedule a meeting today with our experts to learn more about our warehouse management software built for ecommerce brands & 3PLs looking to run their best warehouse and how ShipHero works to ensure that organizations invest in the solutions that match their needs, to improve productivity, revenue and success.
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Aaron Rubin, Founder & CEO
About the author: Aaron Rubin is the Founder & CEO of ShipHero. He is responsible for planning and executing the overall vision and strategy of the organization. Rubin’s greatest strengths are leadership, change management, strategic planning and a passion for progression. He is known for having his finger on the pulse of ShipHero’s major initiatives, his entrepreneurial spirit, and keen business acumen. His leadership of ShipHero is grounded in providing excellent customer service that drives improved business operations. His passion for ShipHero comes from the culture and his ability to have an impact on the lives of employees, customers, partners, and investors.