This is a guest post from our partner Brightpearl, who provide inventory management software helping retailers manage orders, inventory, customer data and accounting all in one place.
Henry Selfridge, one of the great innovators in retail, coined the term “the customer is always right.” Over 100 years later, this adage still holds true. More than ever, customer expectations are driving retailers to deliver the optimum retail experience.
As put best by Chris Donnelly, Global Managing Director of retail strategy at Accenture, “We’re in a world where the retailer can no longer dictate the shopping experience.”
Further evidence comes from Forrester, “When it comes to online retail specifically, consumers seek out – and have come to expect – great deals and free shipping throughout their holiday gift hunt,” citing four key online shopping areas that turn a browser into a buyer, especially during the holiday season:
- 57% – Shipping cost
- 47% – Product reviews and ratings from other customers
- 34% – Product information from retailer
- 26% – Retailer’s return policy
But, what the Forrester article doesn’t address is the critical nature of a retailer’s back-office processes that the customer doesn’t see and definitely feels. According to eBay Enterprise’s Holiday Shopping: 2015 Consumer Survey, 79% of shopper are likely to purchase from another retailer or brand when a product is backordered or out of stock. If a shopper can’t get hold of a product they desire, or a delivery is mishandled then the retailer will bear the brunt of the disappointment.
With that in mind, here’s 4 things you can do to make your customers happy this holiday season, and convert them into lifetime customers:
Offer flexible, or if possible free, shipping and returns. Make the return process as easy as possible for your customer, and show your goodwill by offering an extended holiday return policy. If your profit model allows it, we recommend you consider free shipping and returns.
Keep an eye on your inventory and make sure you stock your bestsellers. Take time to check out your sales numbers from last year, think about the products you’ve introduced since and make sure you’re fully stocked on those bestsellers.
Look at your numbers. Consider which products you can provide at a discount and what deals you can offer. Ideally, your accounting software should show you which products you can afford to offer at a discount without seriously impacting your bottom line.
Be aware of key shopping dates. In addition to Cyber Monday and Black Friday, there are other shopping days to consider for your inventory management and promotions, like Singles Day (November 11) and Green Monday (December 14). We recommend printing out our key holiday shopping dates calendar to refer to.
Ultimately, remember that while the hustle and bustle of the holiday season means potential spikes in revenue and profit, it will also put extra pressure on your existing inventory, order management and accounting processes. Make sure you take the time to examine your existing systems and consider how they all fit together, hopefully fixing holes before the busy time truly starts.
Good luck this holiday season!
Interested in learning more? Download Brightpearl’s ‘The Ultimate Retail Guide to the Holiday Season 2015’.
- The holiday dates you need to be thinking about in advance
- How to take advantage of the holiday season starting
- What the deal is with mobile during the busiest retail season of the year
- Learn how to love returns