Can COVID Steal Christmas? A Prediction for Online Retailers.

The nightmare before Christmas or pleasure to the world for online retailers? It’s difficult to say with certainty what online retailers should expect from this year’s holiday buying period. Data from the immediate wake of Amazon’s postponed Prime Day implies that the biggest winners were, in actuality, non-Amazon vendors . COVID has turned so much of our world upside down. Can ecommerce Santa be stuffing your stockings with coal this year?

Or are they filled with presents come December? Here are four questions that each and every business that sells online ought to be asking themselves:Why does past sales performance imply anything for this year’s vacation season?As you might have accumulated up is down and down is up this holiday season. That means that traditionally very good advice — like to forecast this year’s earnings, look at last year’s earnings — is simply not very good advice anymore. In summary, past sales performance may not mean much for this year’s holiday season. The longer answer is that shopping patterns are completely disrupted. The luxury goods and apparel industry took a big hit this year, with global luxury spending plunging 35 percent from last year’s numbers. Other businesses, like essential goods, toys and games, and home and garden, have experienced massive growth.

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If you are an online merchant in a place that has taken a significant hit from this past year, those numbers are not likely to be very valuable for you. But if you are in one of the blessed booming industries, this year may be better than ever. Along with the amounts varying by industry. Online sales are skyrocketing, with US online sales rising 43 percent in September over last year’s numbers. People are clearly flocking to online retailers, which could bode well for the holiday season. In the long run, your numbers from this year will be far more useful than last year’s holiday numbers.

Online retailers are expected to do well generally. But take cues from the business’s growth to forecast precisely how well.How much stock should online retailers maintain stock this holiday season?It’s clich é d, but the answer depends on a number of aspects. Demand forecasting models can take into account how you’ve performed in the past, but it is clear if you play it safe this season. You might choose to prioritize having as little surplus inventory as possible rather than trying to prevent exercising. If you are still having difficulty planning, consider getting a feeling for it today by implementing several creative approaches, like conducting a pre-order sale to understand how much appetite there is for your goods. When there’s a resounding response from your audience, you will sacrifice a small amount of your profit margins to the safety of guaranteed orders. When it is a little too quiet, you can purchase less stock and concentrate on your marketing approach to get the most from the season.What type of changes should online retailers make to shipping cutoff times this season? The golden guideline is to be upfront, clear, and insistent about your vacation order date deadline. This year it’ll be more important than ever — and sooner than ever.

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As the years have gone and clients have gotten used to shorter processing and transport times, the cutoff for ordering has crept nearer to Christmas. But this year, we are going to see a major jump backwards. The United States Postal Service just released its 2020 Holiday Shipping Guidelines .

The cutoff dates (estimated delivery before December 25th) appear surprisingly normal on their face. December 15th is recorded as the deadline for ground transport, which looks like a great conservative estimate (approximately seven business days as it would normally take three). December 19th is recorded as the priority mail date cutoff, which leaves around four business days. But, tread with caution . When placing your dates, remember: the more conservative, the better. Consider that by the time mid-December rolls around, you will (hopefully) be up to your ears orders and your processing time might be longer than normal. The postal office (or UPS/Fedex) will likely be having similar experiences. So use the USPS dates as a general guide, add in your processing time, a bit more processing time on their end, and then however much more you need to throw in for good measure.

With USPS delays already happening this summer, it will not be surprising to see online retailers with cutoffs in early December for guaranteed Christmas delivery, merely to play with it safe.What should your company do to create customer returns simpler after the holidays?A great returns procedure can make or break your company. It is beneficial year-round, but particularly important during the hectic holiday season. In actuality, online retailers have a much higher rate of returns compared to brick-and-mortar shops, so the post-Christmas yield rush is actual. To nail this, place clear yields guidelines from the start. How long do clients have to return a product? Do you provide free returns, or do you charge a restocking fee? Are you sending out orders in a bundle which may be used for the returns procedure?

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Having all this figured out and clearly communicated to your clients will save a great deal of headaches. If you are working with a third party logistics ( 3PL ) provider to manage your returns, be certain to have your policies cleared through them as well. By way of instance, will they inspect, photograph, and restock the items?Online retailers can and should be prepared for whatever abnormalities that this holiday season throws at them.This winter, it is very likely that we’ll see a continuation of a few of the trends that have defined 2020 because COVID started. How online retailers manage the challenges sure to come their way in November and December will mostly depend on how they’ve adapted their inventory management methods. 1 place sellers might wish to consider placing their trust is cloud-based POS software systems. Having the ideal tech stack set up will be more important than ever for retailers this holiday season. others.