By Joseph Lee, General Manager, Commerce, Pivotree
The last few holiday seasons have kept retailers and brands on their toes – and this year will be no different. With a variety of trends and factors in play, there’s more urgency to deliver a frictionless commerce experience. Customers expect it, and retailers’ revenue and operations depend on it, too.
To start, the lingering pandemic still poses some challenges for retailers in 2022. While the impact of COVID-19 has lessened, 73% of consumers still expect the virus to affect their 2022 holiday plans, and their gift-giving or purchasing plans as a result¹. To add to this, the cost of goods and services are steadily increasing along with Canada’s interest rates: 89% of consumers believe inflation will impact their 2022 holiday shopping plans². Lastly, although supply chain disruptions are slowly improving, it will take some time before conditions return to pre-pandemic levels, meaning it’s safe to expect some shipping delays, overstocked inventory and out-of-stock items this holiday season.
With retail holiday sales in the U.S. projected to hit $1.26 trillion, representing a 3.3% increase, and eCommerce sales expected to reach $235 billion – up by 15.5%, retailers need to ensure they’re able to capitalize on the holiday season and set themselves up for success in 2023³.
So, how can they achieve that? I’ve put together my top list of tips for retailers below, starting with optimizing the commerce experience.
Increase Product Assortment
In 2022, more customers will shop both in-store and online – a distinct shift from the digital focus over the past two years. With this and economic uncertainty in mind, businesses face extra pressure to remove any friction that would prevent a customer from making a purchase. Time-strapped holiday shoppers become extra frustrated by low inventory, slow shipping and website inconsistencies (i.e. a website showing a product is available, but it’s actually out of stock). My recommendation is to focus on a marketplace strategy that brings in products from craft businesses to expand inventory while still providing a curated shopping experience.
Another important factor is ensuring there is a variety of fulfillment options available – especially Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS). It’s also crucial that these options are consistent across in-store, online and mobile shopping channels so that customers can move easily between them as they search, browse, buy or inquire about product availability and pricing.
Supply Chain Optimization
Retailers should also prep their supply chain for demand spikes. This means getting warehouse operations ready for action – from fulfillment capacity, docks and equipment utilization to intelligent and intuitive warehouse management systems (WMS) to help monitor operational parameters while maintaining productivity levels.
A responsive and transparent order management system (OMS) is also a must to provide complete visibility of inventory and product availability, while offering convenience throughout the entire purchasing process. From omnichannel ordering capabilities to multiple shipping options, an OMS helps keep delivery promises.
Digital Transformation Journey
Economic recessions tend to scare companies into hitting the brakes on commerce and digital transformation projects due to large upfront capital costs. Don’t let this stop your company from making the most of your ecommerce offering! Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) is a modern way to implement, deliver and fund ecommerce projects to digitally transform businesses. And because it’s a subscription model, it eliminates heavy upfront costs that need capital investment approvals.
With Thanksgiving and black Friday behind us, it’s time to implement these solutions to make the most of the holiday shopping season and create frictionless shopping experiences. For more tips, download Pivotree’s full 2022 holiday prep guide here.