3 Ways Retailers Can Effectively Prepare for the 2022 Holiday Season Now


Christmas in July has taken on new meaning over the past two years. It’s no longer just the unofficial holiday that mimics many of the traditions associated with Yuletide festivities. In many retail circles, now is the start of preparation for the upcoming holiday shopping season. Because without an early and effective plan in place, you increase the chances of not meeting your revenue goals for the year.

Take, for example, something as basic as inventory. It’s always difficult to determine exactly how much stock to buy and hold, as what was sold last year is unlikely to sell at the same levels over the holiday season. The same goes for pricing your promotions or allocating the right amount of spend to the right marketing channels. Honestly, the list can be as long as a child’s letter to the North Pole.

This begs the question of how retailers can effectively prepare for this year’s holiday season. Although the most effective strategy will vary from company to company, it should include at least the following three elements:

1. Plan for an extended season focused on e-commerce.

The biggest promotions of the year almost always take place on Thanksgiving weekend. That hasn’t changed. What has, however, is the amount spent. Between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber ​​Monday in 2021, retailers made $33.9 billion in online sales, down 1.4% year-over-year. Yet, at the same time, retail sales were higher than they were in 2020, up 17% in November and December 2021. The anomaly boils down to one thing: a shift in buying behavior consumers.

Holiday shopping has been brought forward into 2021, with more than 50% of consumers saying they plan to start before Thanksgiving. E-commerce has certainly been the main driver, offering consumers the opportunity to spread out their gift purchases over the season. But the retailers themselves were also to blame, as a growing number of merchants began their holiday promotions as early as mid-September. Target went so far as to promise to match its lowest price on any item purchased from October 10 through December 24.

Chances are you’ll see similar trends playing out this year. Start planning your holiday promotions today and connecting with consumers through digital channels, especially when it comes to mobile. In fact, “m-commerce” (i.e. mobile e-commerce) was up from the previous year, accounting for around 45.9% of holiday online sales in 2021. Thus, mobile should definitely be part of your marketing mix for years to come. holiday season.

2. Optimize all systems in anticipation of traffic peaks.

Inventory preparation should be a top priority. The last thing you want is for consumers to end up with out-of-stock items during the holiday shopping season, especially since there are so many competitors in the e-commerce space ready to get started. But don’t let that get in the way of preparing your website, app, servers, etc. to the potential increase in traffic. Sudden spikes in online traffic can cause a significant drop in website performance.

For small businesses, the first step is to review your web hosting plan. Shared hosting can be problematic during peak times as you will be sharing servers with many other companies. Therefore, your website may experience slowdowns or downtime if you experience an increase in traffic. In other words, make sure the host server can handle your website’s holiday season needs before November and it’s too late to make any updates.

Another area to explore is cross-system automation, which can help bridge potential gaps between plugins, systems, and applications. Many tasks are performed automatically, reducing the chance of human error when executing commands. These tasks include updating packages to the fastest available connections, implementing a new caching solution, removing any unnecessary dynamic content, and increasing security protocols, all steps that can optimize your e-commerce website to better handle traffic spikes.

3. Leverage AI-driven technology to improve inventory decision-making.

It’s hard to ignore the many ways AI has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible with machines. Automating mundane and repetitive tasks is often the first thing that comes to mind. Shortly thereafter came the opportunity for businesses to operate around the clock – a particular advantage in the e-commerce space – and to deploy chatbots for many aspects of customer service.

But when using AI and machine learning in your business, Ali Hasan R., co-founder and CEO of ThroughPut Inc., cautions that it shouldn’t just be about efficiency. “Your entire strategy should work in terms of overall efficiency rather than ‘production compression’,” he writes. “Therefore, AI and machine learning should improve process flow instead of trying to find process anomalies and flaws.”

Plus, the AI ​​can analyze mountains of data, often in real time, and make accurate predictions about what products you’ll need in stock this holiday season. This ultimately allows you to be more efficient in the decision-making process when preparing your inventory.

The holiday shopping season only comes around once a year. Preparation is never a bad thing, so start planning as early as possible to ensure your business gets the sales it needs to thrive in the months between the holidays.

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