We are now underway. With Amazon’s delayed Prime Day – which usually takes place in July – bumped to October, its rippling effects on the wider ecommerce landscape, and squeezed closer to Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the holiday season for 2020 is already here, and will be the longest holiday season on record.
The 2020 holiday season is going to be squeezed into one quarter. And this brings up a lot of questions. Is the fourth quarter going to be completely chaotic? An organised mess? Or the fact that the monumental shift from physical store shopping to online shopping that occurred around March has already got people buying from websites, so will the holiday season be more chilled out compared to previous years?
But even a calmer season within an ecommerce storm that’s been with us for seven months is set to bring greater issues. The biggest among them for many online sellers is how to manage their inventory.
(Do you remember the early days of the lockdown when you couldn’t find hand sanitizer or toilet paper on the shelves of heavily restricted shops? When we had to line up for 15 minutes outside of shops to enter? When stocks of online stores seemed to randomly dry up every now and then? Fortunately, (most) retailers were able to reinforce their supply issues and break any bottlenecks that were occurring.)
Inventory issues have largely been fixed over the months with retailers placing a lot of emphasis on them, with supply chains bouncing back.
Easier to cross borders
The sales sprees of the holiday season may be an American invention but it’s going global. Black Friday is also a shopping battle day in many other countries, such as Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, SouthAfrica, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico. And much like the globalizing effects of modern life, it’s only set to spread even further.
Sales surges during the holiday season is global, and has made it easier than ever to do business internationally. Cross-border commerce is doing well, and with marketplaces like Amazon, it’s easy for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to go global – and highly rewarding if you’re selling something to some place with very little competition.
SMBs may be outmatched by the commercial firepower of big brands that can utilize ecommerce platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud – that provides powerful personalization capabilities, seamless scaling, and a/b testing to tweak and perfect the entire online shopping experience – yet they are ideal sizes for nimble shifts as opposed to the train-like movements that limit large companies’ ability to react swiftly to unpredepended changes.
Being flexible has the advantage of refocusing what you sell to reach consumers’ wants and expectations. For example, travel companies and clothing retailers have been hit hard during the pandemic, and they’re limited to how they can rethink their operations. A small fashion company is in a better position to slow down with the clothing and emphasise outdoor wear, camping gear, etc.
And with online shopping predominating today’s purchasing spaces, large retailers’ dominance in the streets has been less relevant.
Places like Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping have been catching many small- and medium-sized businesses and helping them survive and thrive. With all of this pointing towards healthy returns for SMBs during the holiday season if they set their stalls well.
The larger picture here is the increasing importance for businesses and retailers to foster and strengthen omnichannel experiences for consumers, and to meet them in the spaces where they hang out.