Time flies and it’s nearly that time of year again. Yes, the holiday season with all its thrills, spills and delights is just around the corner and the time for retailers to ready themselves is here.
Ecommerce enterprises are facing a holiday season like no other — a hackneyed phrase, but one that is indisputable with 2021’s supply chain sluggishness and shortage of workers to hire for the seasonal rush. Add to that consumer’s dramatic, pandemic-inspired shift to online shopping and all the elements are in place for an exceedingly challenging fourth quarter.
EYStudios partnered with Signifyd and four other firms with an abundance of ecommerce expertise to produce “The Nice List: Providing Exclusive Tips & Promotions to Keep Your Sie off the Naughty List,” a compilation of strategies and tactics to help guide merchants through the coming season.
What follows are a few of the gems scattered through the ebook. We’ll warn you that these are just a few of the ideas in “The Nice List.” Check out the ebook itself to be fully prepared for what’s ahead.
Make your list and check it twice — EY Studios
Of course, maximizing site conversions is a top priority for everyone, so it’s important to get your site optimized to the max. Consider making a timeline of what improvements you need to make and when. Analyze last year’s efforts, goals and performance to guide your strategy this year.
The timeline will give you a jumping-off point to make progressive tweaks. EY Studios suggests to-do items such as optimizing the emails you send to prompt customers with abandoned carts to act and making sure your checkout process is at its best.
Check out Chapter 1 for the rest of EY Studio’s advice.
Paint it black (Friday) — Yotpo
As you may suspect, 2020 smashed records in terms of ecommerce. With the pandemic forcing people online and the sheer convenience of it, this is sure to continue, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday likely to see huge shopping volumes at brands who are well prepared.
A couple of major factors influencing shopping behavior in 2021 to keep in mind are:
- Consumers will continue to get an early start on their holiday shopping.
- They won’t be as forgiving as they were during the early pandemic days.
- And mobile commerce will continue its path up and to the right.
In response, Yotpo suggests 10 Black Friday strategies to get the official holiday shopping season off to a good start. Among Yoto’s 10 ideas are building a Black Friday collection page to help shoppers find the bargains you’ll offer and adding gamification elements to the shopping journeys you create.
How to win at holiday shipping — ShipStation
The holidays can be a hugely stressful time for many. Sure, the big wave of orders is great for sellers. But it can come with its own problems if a seller is not ready and organized. The holiday period puts your warehousing workflows to the ultimate test. So, how do you get a handle on the spike in orders while still focusing on what you need to do to sell your goods?
It’s imperative to know your customers’ shipping preferences and to be ready to, well, deliver on them. In the age of Amazon, meeting fulfillment expectations is mandatory — and that includes providing a smooth return process for when that special something isn’t quite right for that special someone.
ShipStation’s advice holds especially true in a time of supply chain disruption:
- To the extent possible, be sure you have adequate inventory on hand. More so than during most of the year, retailers have one chance to make that sale during holiday gift-buying season.
- Know the current shipping deadlines. Last year was a lesson. Shipping guidelines are serious business. If you can’t get a package where it needs to be on time, you risk losing a customer for life.
- Have sufficient shipping materials ready. The best plan in the world just won’t work if everything is ready to go, but you don’t have a box to ship it in or the proper material to pack it in.
Your helpdesk can actually help profits — Gorgias
This is an area that is powerful yet often overlooked. With all the pent-up buying energy consumers have at this time as well as the myriad options available to them, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to attract buyers and keep them as long-time customers. Comprehensive, exemplary (and genuine) customer service is a great way to set yourself apart.
Leveraging social media is of course key and an excellent opportunity to interact, engage and build relationships with your prospective customers. Saving your customers time by using technology for instant support is too important to neglect in this day and age. Using a dedicated helpdesk like Gorgias may also be the way to go, along with live chat and automating where possible and appropriate.
Embrace fearless commerce during the wild holiday rush — Signifyd
With all this talk of enthusiastic buying and consumer energy, don’t forget the darker side of the equation and how to combat any nefarious activity. Understanding the intricacies of fraud and abuse protection during the holiday season needs to be a part of your holiday preparation.
The surge in legitimate orders inevitably brings with it a higher number of fraudulent orders. Fraudsters look to the chaos and high order volume of the holiday rush as an opportunity to blend in. Retailers are right to be wary, but Signifyd reminds you that you can’t become so cautious that you begin turning away legitimate orders for fear of fraud.
The balancing act is particularly difficult during the holiday rush for the following reasons:
- An unusually high number of new shoppers. Every holiday merchants see orders from customers they are not familiar with. This year the trend will be amplified because of the huge wave of shoppers who became first-time online consumers during the pandemic. First-time shoppers looking for gifts arrive with no order history. They come with uncertainty and in some ways can resemble fraudsters. Ensure that your order review system, whatever it might be, is intelligent enough to know the difference.
- Shipping and billing addresses don’t match. One of the key red flags when screening for fraud is relatively common during the holiday period. Consumers often buy gifts and have them shipped to the recipient’s address. Don’t risk turning away a good customer, inspiring them to never shop with you again.
- Unusual credit or debit card accounts. It’s not unusual during the holiday season to see a known customer using an unfamiliar credit card or debit card. Holiday shoppers sometimes spread the financial pain across different credit accounts. And sometimes gift buyers use a secondary credit card so a surprise for a partner or spouse isn’t ruined by a credit card statement.
So, how to protect the enterprise while still providing an excellent customer experience? Here are a few tips:
- Get ready ASAP — as in yesterday. Don’t panic, but it’s time to have your holiday policies and strategies in place. If you don’t, there is no time like the present.
- Trust your gut. If you can come up with a story that explains why a red flag for fraud is actually a reasonable set of circumstances during the holiday season, you’re probably right. Try to think in terms of optimizing revenue, rather than avoiding risk. Consider steps you can take to make adopting that mindset easier.
- Get professional help. Consider turning to a partner like Signifyd. Signifyd uses big data and machine learning to instantly sort fraudulent orders from legitimate ones. Signifyd also offers a financial guarantee. If an approved order turns out to be fraudulent, Signifyd reimburses all the costs associated with the merchant’s loss. The company uses the same smart machines to manage and identify cases of consumer abuse and provides a guarantee against related chargebacks.
Get all this covered and it will make for a much smoother process for all.
Create new revenue streams — Clyde
Protection plans are an often-overlooked way to provide peace of mind for consumers and an additional revenue stream for retailers. The holiday season gives retailers the opportunity to showcase protection plans for consumers who might not be extremely familiar with the concept.
The protection plan industry has traditionally been unheralded, but technology is changing that. Now, selecting a protection plan can be as easy for consumers as selecting a digital payment option or installment plan at checkout.
When protection plans are given along with a gift, it insures against a good thing going bad, with an untimely Christmas Day spill or a malfunction right out of the box. With solutions like Clyde, protection plans also provide merchants and brands with data, including damage reports and click-by-click reports on customers’ journeys — all of which can be used to make products and experiences better.
Check out this section of “The Nice List” for, well, exclusive promotions from the six companies that contributed to the ebook. Whether it’s a free site audit, fraud assessment or a trial of the contributors’ services, details of how to go about obtaining them are contained in this section.
Again, we’ve only covered a fraction of the ideas and strategies laid out in “The Nice List: Providing Exclusive Tips & Promotions to Keep Your Site off the Naughty List.” We hope you’ll take some time to explore the ebook in depth.
After all, it should be a real page-turner for any retailer heading into a holiday season like no other.
We can help your holiday season run smoothly