October to January every year is the time for the biggest retail period for merchants all over the globe. Love it or hate it, we all want the same thing: being one step ahead of our competitors and yielding the best profits possible. And this year, when people finally get their vaccine jabs and leave their home for work again, retailers need to dispel the notion that business will return to normal.
While people are happier than ever to be back on the streets for shopping sessions, cafes and restaurants, Covid-19 has truly accelerated the shift to online as this year’s Black Friday is predicted to see online sales surge by 35 - 45%, according to The Guardian. It’s not surprising given 50% of consumers we surveyed said they plan to spend more online this year.
So, what can this piece of information be translated to the business language of brands and retailers? Well, there is one thing for sure: listen to the eCommerce experts. The peak season will be upon us soon, and here are the top 5 tactics for merchants to be prepared in advance.
With eCommerce still dominating the retail sphere throughout the pandemic, peak 2021 is sure to be as busy a time as ever for brands selling online.
Online shopping can be impulsive but it can also be the result of thorough research and consideration. Thus the key to optimizing your customers’ online experience is to allow them to learn as much (if not more) about a product on the website as if they were physically shopping in the store. Giving them the right information allows customers to make decisions wisely and also subtly telling them “we care about you using our products, not just you buying”.
So, you need to get the basics right: get descriptive in a wise way with visual assets, tutorials, prices and reviews.
A side note: Content for products should be optimized based on each marketplace’s specific standards. You will want your product lists to rise on top of each platform when customers search for specific categories or keywords.
Showing inventory levels is a subtle and great way to urge customers to make a purchase. Why? Because no matter how detailed and nice and praised your product is, there will always be a proportion of customers who want to compare prices between stores, wait for the price to drop more, or just prefer to complete their festive shopping in-store. You can solve all of these with one thing to keep in mind: they all want a seamless and quick experience.
That’s why showing how much you have left and which product will run out soon can rush them to order the piece they want right away.
But here comes the tricky things: The most important thing is to be totally consistent across platforms. You don’t want a delightful and brightful holiday shopper to turn into angry ex-customers who write bad reviews about your products because your information is inconsistent, wasting their time and effort.
So, the best way to do this is by putting in place a sound inventory tracking system that is regularly updated. This can then feed into your branded site to show customers the availability of products in locations near them. For online shoppers, they display the process of the order from the request received to delivery time.
ASUS Singapore has successfully done this and yielded so many benefits from it. See how SmartOSC turned an ASUS website into a seamless O2O buying journey for Singaporean B2B and B2C customers HERE
We all know how tech-savvy our customers are today. With a smartphone, they can be all over the internet at once while their attention span is short. Thus, the buyer journey of 2021 is quite complex and fragmented. Many shoppers search for products on Google then head to their preferred marketplace or retailer for purchase. Others are discovering products outside the traditional shopping funnel such as Livestream.
Read more about Livestream in eCommerce HERE.
Successful brands must leverage as many social platform features as possible to draw consumers into a shopping experience.
During peak season, the number of customers with a shopping intent is quite large - you don’t want to miss out on that. To ensure you’re capturing demand during peak periods, make sure you allocate enough budget to advertising on big eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, Shopee and other channels.
Everybody knows the more exposure for your products the better, so your competitors will be doing the exact same thing. What you should do is make sure you have an on-point advertising campaign in place with smooth copy and specific keyword-targeting strategies.
Alongside the big marketplace players, merchants can expand their presence to a huge number of emerging channels, especially those locally dominating such as Shopee, Topedia, Zalando, Newegg and more than 100 other channels.
The world’s top online marketplaces (Source)
These marketplaces have recorded a huge rise in spending on their platforms.
According to The Vulcanpost, Shopee’s revenue for Q4 2020 was US$842.2 million, up 178.3 percent year-on-year. This included US$627.6 million of marketplace revenue, up 175.4 percent year-on-year; and US$214.6 million of product revenue, up 187.1 percent year-on-year.
Keep your options open and remember there’s still time before Christmas to reassess your marketplace strategy to include other more niche or vertical-specific marketplaces.
Knowing all the tactics, let's have a brief look at which key holidays all merchants need to remember!
The following dates are vital to take advantage of the Peak Season, ensuring to make plans and act on time.
Halloween is no longer an American-only holiday but a fun time throughout Europe and other continents. While kids enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters, students spend their nights at parties or freaky movie nights at home. Halloween is all about joining in the fun.
What should merchants do? No matter if you sell specific spooky stuff or not, the opportunities for sales increase during this time. Using the fun spirits as a theme for your October marketing strategy, highlighting your email marketing or social campaigns with some puns or doing special “spooky sales” can definitely push people towards the Checkout.
Originated in China, Singles Day is a way for single people to “Treat Yourself” by “revenge spending” when they have yet got a partner. The funny made-up holiday is quickly taking the world by storm with its quirky nature and the big sales.
The event is a month-long shopping spree that peaks on the 11th of November. Singles Day doesn’t just benefit merchants' sales, but they help alleviate the strain from Black Friday/ Cyber Monday by stretching the sale season earlier into November. With a month, rather than just one weekend, retailers can have a better chance of smoother, more efficient delivery.
Read more about how big brands are managing their inventory during peak time HERE
Black Friday has always been a hot topic every year, with familiar scenes of people fighting over the very last heavily discounted TVs or prized designer shoes.
Starting straight after Thanksgiving, Black Friday originated in retail stores in the US. Today, most digital successors join the event as one long weekend of sales to shift stock before the Christmas period.
What should merchants do? As consumers now expect Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many begin doing exploratory research in anticipation of the sale to have the best deal. So, ensure to communicate promotions and deals with plenty of time. A small tactic here is that the Last-Minute deals can also prove very successful.
This is the time for Last-minute Christmas shoppers to dash down to the stores on Christmas Eve, frantically searching the empty shelves in a last attempt to find a gift for their loved ones. On average, shoppers who go online to search for gifts will most likely be shopping for their gifts online 10 days before Christmas, and this is where Free Shipping Day was born.
What should merchants do? Use this to your advantage with a targeted email or promotional campaign that triggers your customers into action with ordering their Christmas gifts.
Christmas Eve is arguably the biggest holiday of the year, not just in countries dominated by Christians but other Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and more even though different people in each place have their way of celebration. And when it’s the time for celebration, it’s also the biggest holiday for purchases. From the celebrations with food, decorations, and party attire, to the mass of gifts being given, the opportunity for selling online in the lead-up to Christmas is huge.
What should merchants do? They must come prepared. Because of the surge in orders on the holiday, shipping can become one of the most problematic issues during this time. Clearly communicating delivery times is one of the most important things to do to avoid disappointed customers if they don’t receive their order in time (you don’t want to be the villain in thor Christmas story, which they will remember and tell their friends for as long as they can remember).
The peak-season is coming closer, feel free to drop us a quick message to see how we can help.