C-Suite Advisory

How Business Leaders Can Start Preparing for the Holiday Season Now

business people

As we approach the “season of spending,” evaluate your business processes to meet consumer expectations and protect your business from the inevitable supplier issues. The holiday shopping season is the biggest revenue-generating occasion of the year that can simultaneously boost sales revenue and build your brand reputation. If you aren’t prepared well in advance, your business is going to suffer in the long run.

Holiday preparation is already in full swing for businesses. And with the varying trends in spending and impending/ongoing supply chain issues, businesses must get ahead of the game.

COVID-19 exacerbated spending last year, with total retail expenditures growing 16.1% in 2021 — the biggest retail surge seen in more than 20 years. And early statistics are showing that we can expect this increase to rise steadily this holiday season.

Let’s discuss what steps businesses, retailers, and eCommerce leaders can take to prepare for the peak holiday season — because it is never too early to set your company up for success.

  1. Review the Website Experience
    More and more consumers are going online to make their purchases — avoiding obnoxious lines and getting a full digital view of their options from home. Nothing screams convenience more than online shopping.

    Everyone is looking for ways to lessen the stress this holiday season, and consumers need a streamlined online process that prioritizes their experience. According to Baymard Institute research on abandoned carts, an estimated 17% of lost online purchases are due to a complicated checkout process. Even something as simple as a requirement to create an account made 24% of consumers abandon their purchase altogether.

    Consider eliminating unnecessary steps, incorporating visually appealing design, and adding progress reports to show consumers where they are in the checkout process. Following this with ongoing updates and communication is a great way to show consumers your commitment to their online shopping experience.

    Kadro president and CEO Rick Johnson is an advocate of diversifying purchase options as a way to amplify your website. Kadro is a software engineering firm that focuses on delivering scalable, game-changing eCommerce solutions on multiple platforms.

    “Striving to add more options and convenience during the checkout process is a theme repeated this year as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson says. “Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) and Same Day Delivery are both key features for retailers, making it easier for customers to optimize the process for receiving their product. These features require the right technology to have accurate and timely inventory across their distribution and retail channels. In addition, split payments and alternative buy-on-credit solutions are rising in popularity with consumers.

    “A big effort across all our clients is being prepared for higher eCommerce traffic than last year. A consistent effort has been placed on both back-end infrastructure upsizing and overall website performance to ensure that their eCommerce sites will perform during the holiday rush.”

  2. Revamp the Sign-Up Process
    Consumers are actively looking for the next trend for the upcoming holiday season. However, shoppers no longer want to be “accidentally” signed up for potentially gimmicky offers. They want complete control over the information they receive.

    Businesses need to revamp their subscription processes to evaluate every aspect of their consumer and what works best to bring them into the fold voluntarily.

    “Shoppers will be looking to discover new brands during the holidays, so now is the perfect time to begin optimizing your subscription process. What works with your audience? Are you incentivizing the process? Have you tried gamifying the sign-up?” asks Steve Hutt, senior merchant success manager at Shopify. “Do popovers drive more sign-ups with your audience? There are a lot of different strategies you can test in the lead-up to the holiday season. By taking the time to try some different tactics, you’ll be able to maximize your list growth during this period of heavy traffic.”

    What tactics might work best for your audience? Consider giving them a reason to sign up with compelling yet straightforward copy. Reinforce the deal with freebies and offers. Make it quick and easy with one-step applications, and try to require as little information to sign up as necessary. Sometimes less is more. These simple tactics go a long way toward maximizing the company’s reach and increasing consumer satisfaction.

  3. Diversify the Supplier Chain
    One lesson businesses have learned post-pandemic is the importance of the pivot. With supply demands remaining high across industries, diversifying suppliers is essential to stay competitive. It’s smart business to have vetted backup suppliers to prepare for the demanding holiday season. By doing this, you assure your consumers that they can count on you.

    “A common supply chain risk area is heavy reliance on a single supplier. This is known as concentration risk and can leave you with few or zero options if your key supplier can’t meet your needs,” says Gary Drenik, CEO of Prosper Business Development. “Having several vetted backup suppliers ready to go puts you in a better position to keep up with demand throughout peak season. 

“Diversifying your supplier base can also help create a more competitive supplier landscape. Retailers should monitor their suppliers’ capacity, and that means accurate forecasting backed up by ongoing communication and action. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it time — in the retail world, circumstances can change quickly, and retailers must be ready to pivot.”

Written by Rhett Power.
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Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.