The 2020 holiday shopping season was unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic caused consumers to move away from in-store shopping and embrace e-commerce, triggering a dramatic increase in online sales. The online shopping boom also led consumers to start their holiday shopping much earlier than the traditional Thanksgiving start to avoid delays, out-of-stock items, and take advantage of sales.
The e-commerce surge and new shopping trends set in motion by COVID-19 are here to stay, and while it might be difficult to think about the holidays during the summer, peak season will be here before we know it. Retailers need to act now to ensure their supply chains are ready for another busy holiday shopping season.
Here are some things you can do to position your retail business for a successful 2021 peak season:
- Start Holiday Promotions Earlier. An extended holiday shopping season is a win-win for both consumers and retailers. Consumers can take advantage of promotions and discounts and have more time and options to shop in-stock inventory. Retailers that start sales and promotions earlier in November or even October can reduce capacity constraints, avoid peak season surcharges, and level out demand.
- Faster Delivery is the New Normal. Fast shipping and free delivery are must-haves to acquire new customers online, especially with consumers willing to try new retailers and the rapid decline of brand loyalty. Retailers that leverage free and fast shipping while building flexibility in their supply chains will acquire and retain these customers long after COVID-19.
- Build Flexibility in Your Supply Chain. Consumers are demanding free shipping and faster delivery, but retailers are struggling to balance the growth in online sales with peak surcharges and volume constraints imposed by national carriers. Diversifying your carrier mix can help you build resilience and optionality within your supply chain. Retailers can increase capacity and flexibility by adding regional carriers, improve their margins with lower costs, and enhance the customer experience with faster delivery options by adding regional carriers to their carrier mix.
Preparing for peak season doesn’t just happen in the weeks before the holidays. 2021 will be another busy holiday shopping season and planning early and prioritizing your strategy are crucial. By taking action now, your retail business should be equipped to handle high volumes and meet consumer expectations.