It seems silly posting about Holiday 2018 when we are sitting poolside and the kids are out of school. But continuous innovation never stops. Harnessing data from Holiday 2017 and these past quarters to begin to compile profiles of your buyers and brainstorming themes for the upcoming 2018 holiday season is imperative and doesn't have to mean implementing a new technology or feature before the rush starts. Simple updates to your online checkout process and customer experience can help improve drop off rates and abandoned carts. And optimizing your order management and inventory can save you hundreds of thousands this holiday season. We could create a much more extensive list than 3 to prepare for holiday, but decided that these are a great place to start preparations as we kick off our Holiday Readiness Series. Utilize this short list to enhance your competitive edge this upcoming holiday shopping season and over the next three weeks look to the blog as we dive deeper into each of these three holiday readiness readiness tips.
1. Harness Customer Data Collection: Collect customer data at all points available if you aren’t already. POS systems, emails, social interactions are all great starting places to compile profiles of your buyers to enhance personalization and segmentation efforts. Establishing clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the results of your efforts and provides insight into progress toward accomplishing your merchandising and marketing goals is key. KPIs offer an objective perspective into how your business activities result in real value. Some KPIs provide insight into a customer’s willingness to consider what your brand offers (email open, ad click-through, site visit, etc.), while others represent the ultimate goal of that engagement (order placement, average order value, repeat visits, etc.). As an organization, learn how your day-to-day activities affect these KPIs (and the value they indicate) across your entire customer base and, additionally, what unique tactics affect the personalized segments in that community. Create visualizations of your KPIs at all levels to align the organization on expectations and to memorialize historic performance in that visual medium.
“At Echinda, our team has found that by making such visualizations a core reference in every conversation about performance, companies share a much more unified and clearly articulated vision of the future.”
-Mike Pierce, CTO at Echidna
2. Improve Online Checkout Processes: Shopping cart abandonment is unfortunately way too common, especially during holiday season. Customers state being forced to create an account, extra costs, or too long of a checkout process as main reasons for leaving to shop elsewhere. Improving in this area before holiday should be at the top of your holiday readiness checklist. Offering a quicker checkout with flexible payment options and fast and accurate tax calculations are a bonus so customers don’t have big surprises waiting for them when they click that FINALIZE ORDER button.
3. Review Order and Inventory Management Accuracy: It may seem like a back seat to the sexiness of giving personalized experiences and superior customer service, but during holiday season especially there is nothing that pushes a customer away faster or makes them more loyal to your brand then their ordering experience. Modern commerce requires processing and managing orders from multiple channels, carriers, and delivery points. Having a full understanding of your multi-channel order process, channels, carriers, and delivery points and know what your customers utilize most to create a solid strategy to execute on giving the speediest and most accurate service possible. Identifying gaps in this process well before holiday will improve customer loyalty and brand reputation, as well as offer competitive shipping costs and the ability to offer customers more options to return which is prime during gift-buying season.
We recommend merchants take this time between now and the holidays to improve their process for Continuous Innovation. Whether working on the next big thing that’s going to set you apart from competition this holiday season or fixing major pain points in your day-to-day digital business, every organization needs a mature methodology for planning, building, and introducing technology change into their operations. This becomes even more essential during the holiday season when change is often thrust upon us and disciplined execution is critical to business success. While many merchants “freeze” change during these holiday seasons to safeguard operations, digitally-oriented leaders recognize that a mature practice can allow innovative changes throughout the season and avoid business impact. Obviously, a clear competitive advantage over companies relegated to rigid and outdated technology implementation practices.