With the holiday season leading up to the finale of one of the more surreal years in recent history, brands and retailers have begun making serious preparations under challenging conditions.
This year’s commerce environment has been transformed when compared to last year, and the many years before that. Many entrance doors and sliding glass panels have remained closed for months. And in shops that have reopened, social distancing measures have limited the number of customers allowed in-store, as well as restricted the accompanying in-store experience.
Digitally, surges in ecommerce have helped to limit the damage of shuttered shops yet weighs heavily on supply chains and burdonded delivery windows — the latter forcing some retailers to open new distribution centers to help deal with greater online demand.
Now that we’ve reached August down the yearly track, the holiday tunnel is within sight. Previous preparations that focussed on in-store experiences are going to have to shift to an online priority, and ensure that their website is able to deal with the prognosis of enormous traffic.
If your website is hosted on Salesforce Commerce Cloud (formerly Demandware), then you already know that the ecommerce platform enables you to scale seamlessly so that you don’t need to worry about your site crashing or running frustratingly slow; and that it’s heavyweight functionality focuses on personalized experiences.
And so by tracking trends built over the last handful of months, we may be in a position to forecast key insight heading into the holiday season.
Christmas will come earlier
(Ok, ok, yuletide will not literally be pushed back earlier in the calendar!) Such is the market dominance of Amazon, like Polaris, that all other shops rotate around it. When Amazon announced its first Prime Day half a decade ago, they actually began a spontaneous shopping holiday at the end of summer, and pulled in much of the “back to school” shopping hype.
Although this July passed without Prime Day, it is expected to be rescheduled for early October, yet the exact day remains unknown. If it gets pushed back once again, it’s going to clash with the more “traditional” shopping holiday that begins with Thanksgiving, with the real potential of Cyber Week sales being taken away as Amazon pushes into a different neighborhood.
With much visibility of its Prime Day, most ecommerce websites advertise sales for that day, and so whether you’re hosting your own WordPress site or hosting it on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you’re going to want to lure customers on your website to drive traffic and sales.
Final mile struggle
With much greater ecommerce demands pushing up against disruptions in manufacturing and tighter limitations in distribution centers — such as the social distancing between workers — the ability to deliver packages on time during the holidays is going to be put to the year’s most difficult test.
In short, getting your parcel to your doorstep on time is going to be a struggle as delivery providers will likely be overworked to make the final mile. Yet there are strategies that companies can enact via Salesforce Commerce Cloud to alleviate the pressure. Such as moving inventory closer to the areas of higher demand, anticipating customer needs by region. And in stores that decide to reopen their doors, store associates can take advantage of the Endless Aisle app that provides them with relevant data regarding stock, as well as recommended products to customers based on their past product searches and purchases.
Reimagined stores… as fulfillment centers
For stores whose doors are set to remain closed, they can still provide a vital purpose as fulfillment centers. By taking advantage of the huge, empty space, retailers can reimagine stores as spaces for contactless delivery, and help to alleviate the pressures put on home delivery.
We have already seen the huge benefits of retailers and other stores that have been offering alternative delivery options, such as curbside pickup. For those who can maintain these options they are likely to be rewarded even further come holiday season.
Drive to personalize
Another consequence of closed stores and online focus is that shopping experiences are going to become even more personalized, especially if marketing budgets feel lighter than previous years.
Reaching out to customers where they digitally reside, whether it be on social media, gaming platforms or mobile apps, branching out with a diverse online presence is going to capture greater sales. And with the help of SFCC’s Einstein AI retailers are in a better place to personalize offers based on a number of indicators such as previous orders, wish lists, and basketed items.
PS: UV is one of the world’s leading Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Demandware) specialists. Contact us to see how we can work together.