For Retailers, It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year! While the holiday season is - as Andy Williams croons - full of parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow, retailers like yourself will be more concerned with keeping their operations running smoothly with the inevitable increase of festive orders.

Like many of our customers you have probably been preparing for this upcoming holiday season for a while and you have also probably read a number of articles about what to expect this year.

Instead of drowning you with the same repetitive data points over and over again, we are going to be taking a fresher, more interactive approach to keeping you sane this winter. This is why we are launching our inaugural Holiday Series!

Each week from now until Black Friday, we will be publishing guides, tips and tricks, how-to videos, and actionable items to help you get the most out of your operations this holiday season.

To kick things off, let’s talk about what kind of holiday season is likely to be in store for us.

What to Expect

It’s no secret that 2017 was an amazing year for eCommerce and growth. Lifestyle brands and social media influencers took over and drove sales like we’ve never seen before. So what do we think winter 2018 is going to be like? Based on the growth of our customers, as well as our involvement in the industry, we expect another great year for eCommerce and retail.

Our Point of View

Like many analysts and fellow colleagues, we agree that the 2018 festive period should be able to at least match - if not exceed - 2017’s record sales. Our economy is strong, employment is low, and disposable income is solid.

Reinforcing this, Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s US economic forecaster, said, “The anticipated growth in holiday sales is likely because of solid disposable personal income growth, which we expect will be in the 5 to 5.4 percent range. That is above last year’s 4.7 percent,”

“A strong labor market should also aid retail spending, along with elevated consumer confidence and a stable personal savings rate of around 7 percent,” he added.

It Can’t All be Rainbows and Sunshine… Right?

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” —  Benjamin Franklin

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves, Ben.

While everyone is expecting and predicting a strong holiday season, there are a few things that could derail our expectations, such as import tariffs. The continuing increase in import tariffs on Chinese goods can have a real impact on our retailers and eCommerce businesses that import from China.

Consumers are constantly looking for good deals and products at a reasonable price. However, if prices begin to rise on goods that were normally cheaper, our typical consumers may wait and hold off until things cool down a little.

Another important thing to consider at this stage is Amazon and their effect on eCommerce. While eCommerce as a whole is growing, it’s not growing as fast as Amazon. Amazon now accounts for *half *of all online sales. That’s right, a 50% market share of all online sales!

Let’s just pause for a moment and acknowledge how insane that actually is!

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So, it’s important to plan accordingly and not jump too quickly one side or the other because of an outlier skewing the results.

What to do Now?

Joel Bines, Managing Director of alixpartners, said, “We’re advising our clients to be optimistic, yes, but also to remember that optimism is not a strategy — that detailed planning and then flawless execution should be front and center this holiday season.”

Like Benjamin Franklin, Joel has said it perfectly!

Retailers can and should be optimistic about retail sales, but the best course of action is to make sure you are delivering the best experience possible for your customers. That’s what we are aiming towards in this series – giving retailers the tools and necessary steps to deliver the best shopping experience ever.

We live in a time of the Amazon Effect and Shopify. The Amazon Effect has changed the mindset of consumers. Customers expect quick shipping times and fast resolvement of their issues, all at a very competitive price. Few have done more for the eCommerce merchant platform than Shopify. Shopify has changed the way Retailers sell and present themselves to their customers. They’ve focused their efforts on a unified customer experience from a quick first load experience to an easy and quick checkout.

Aside from a non-mobile friendly experience, one of the main things that results in high cart abandonment is when the user is forced to add information. If you are a Shopify user, you can make this process simpler with Shopify Pay, Shopify’s solution to the famous 1-Click buy button.

Want to know more about Shopify?

We wrote a great book on Shopify and how to get the most out of it. Check it out!

What’s Next?

Before you start checking your list twice, take a deep breath, drink some milk and have a cookie. We’re going to give you everything you need to get your operations roaring like a chestnut on an open fire, and orders on the UPS Express faster than you can say Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

Check out the next installment of our series, focusing on your Operational Holiday Checklist.

Or if you want to see what your operations can look like at close to 100% efficiency, sign up for a free success plan tailored to your business. Here, our retail experts dive deeply into your operations and show you how you can improve – all 100% free, with no strings attached. Call it an early Christmas present!

Set yourself up for success

Have one of our retail experts create a custom succcess plan with detailed insight into your operations, process, and what efficient selling on Shopify looks like. This plan is not tied to RetailOps, this is just our way of giving back to the retailing community.

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