Review, prepare, plan

eStar client services and partner manager Kylie Williams details six key ways to prepare for the peak trading period.

Will this peak period be a repeat on last year? We and others in the eCommerce industry think not. If anything, it will be one we have never encountered before, but one we need to prepare for!

Looking back to pre-set our thinking, Cyber weekend was different in 2020 due to the pandemic. It was no longer just a weekend, it lasted a week and beyond. Christmas, Boxing Day and traditional New Year sales weren’t untouched by this either, nearly blending the peak period from 1st November through to mid to late January.

Last year most online retailers if not all, were quick to implement click-and-collect or curb side pick-up if not live already. It helped continue to fulfil shopping needs for consumers when shopping in-store had taken a dramatic change and it helped provide another channel for shopping in the busy world. So looking at the approaching peak period for 2021, what are we going to see that is different? And are we prepared?

This year it won’t just be about the offer or discount, it is going to also include focus and visibility on inventory. What stock do you have, where is it and is it available now? If you have stock, you need to highlight this – ‘available now, ships today.’ Inventory and availability is a hot topic, as items are not as easily accessible or readily available as they once were.

But even with this key item in mind – what’s next in eCommerce or the trending ‘it’ feature, there are still some fundamentals we need to ensure we don’t forget, and make sure the previous successes of peak trading continue to grow.

Below are some themes that should be on your list and if not, add them now!

No last minute releases or big functional changes

Any core changes to functionality either on the frontend of the site or in the backend should already be in place. Even with high quality testing, planning of roll out, there can always be some devious aspect that could impact this.

Make sure any big projects are released and well embedded before peak trading starts.

Are your physical stores ready?

If you are fulfilling your online orders from your stores or even your warehouse, are they prepared for the influx of orders? Ensure your store rooms are clean and clear with walk room and space to move around in, including the placement of large bulky items.

Make sure all staff are well trained on systems and know your couriers’ cut off times. As with many retailers, peak includes onboarding casual or temporary staff and having them well trained and providing supporting information and easy-to-read manuals is key.

Pre-plan all that you can

Take the time to pre-prepare any content, collateral, discounting/promotions and email marketing material all ahead of time. Doing this now allows you the luxury of time to make changes, ensure the idea can be put into action and adjust as needed. It will save you a lot of time and headache later.

Product stock level accuracy

Ensure your stock levels are correct and review your inventory updates and stock buffer levels. It’s important to make sure all your stock is online because customers are going to want to purchase what you have now and what is readily available. Ensure you don’t oversell. To mitigate this, review the integration run times and reporting available for success or failure.

Monitoring and backups for all key systems

Monitoring, reporting and backups is not just for your website. It is also recommended for other key systems and third parties you may rely on. This could include ensuring that there is a notification of failure, or warning systems in place.

Who do I contact when?

It’s always best to be prepared than think ‘I wish we had’ in a heightened situation. So in this case, keep a list of those you should contact when needed for assistance or escalation in a known space and share it among the team. It is also recommended to have at least two contacts at each provider or internally for backup.

In summary, we need to review last year’s peak period, take on board the demand and focus on inventory and… plan, test, prepare, be ready!

Review, prepare, plan

Posted inDigital Strategy